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Print Assessment Centre Secrets Revealed: What Are the Case Study Exercises?

Initially reserved for management interviews in consulting firms, case study exercises are gaining popularity in all industries. They are a quick way of determining a candidate’s problem solving and strategic thinking skills based on a (usually) fictitious context that is presented in background documents such as e-mails, statistical charts, article clippings or any other kind of material. These exercises form an integral component of assessment centres and most management oriented interviews.
 
Assessment Center Secrets Revealed: What Are the Case Study Exercises?Initially reserved for management interviews in consulting firms, case study exercises are gaining popularity in all industries. They are a quick way of determining a candidate’s problem solving and strategic thinking skills based on a (usually) fictitious context that is presented in background documents such as e-mails, statistical charts, article clippings or any other kind of material. These exercises form an integral component of assessment centers and most management oriented interviews.
 
By using a combination of case study exercises, along with traditional interviewing methods, assessment centers are able to evaluate if a candidate is suitable for the job they are interviewing for. Case study exercises are popularly used in consulting firms where candidates from all kinds of business backgrounds are assessed on a specific exercise.
 
What Case Study Exercises Include
 
These exercises follow a fairly simple format. Candidates are presented with a hypothetical business problem and are given time to prepare themselves, after which they participate in a discussion with experienced professionals who are employed with the company. These interviewers make notes about a candidate’s abilities to think creatively, find solutions that are beneficial to the organization, and approach the problem in a meticulous manner. 
 
The types of problems candidates need to solve depend on the role they are interviewing for and their professional qualifications.
 
Academic Qualifications
 
Academic qualifications, while relevant, are not considered when evaluating candidates for case study exercises, therefore when assessing them for management or business consulting roles they may obviously come from any academic background.
 
Companies That Use Case Study Exercises
 
Case study exercises are popular in the consulting, banking, professional services, tax and related sectors but are increasingly being used by assessment centers since they provide a greater insight into a candidate’s skill set.
 
Before the process starts, speak with your recruiter and find out about the interview stages. This will help you in preparing yourself for any aptitude tests or psychometric tests as well.
 
Preparing for Case Study Tests
 
Because the nature of assessment test depends entirely on the company and the role you are interviewing for, it is always worth familiarising yourself with the terminology, jargon and overall ‘language’ of the company and industry whose vacancy you are applying for. The best is to browse relevant websites’ annual reports, glossary, press releases and other materials that include such written materials. It is also helpful to read about the company itself, what they do, what kind of projects they handle, who their clients are and what is the nature of work so you can provide great references in the case study if the context and material warrants it.
 
This type of preparation will help the candidate to have a fruitful discussion later in the assessment centers or with the interviewer after the case study exercises, as well as showing that they are serious about doing well during the job test.
 
Tips for Doing Better
 
For the case study, make sure that you are fully aware of how much time will be allocated for the task. Make sure that you split this into units as follows:
 
  • 5% of the total time should be spent on reading the instructions and questions very carefully so as to avoid starting an essay or written answer that may not correspond to the expectations
  • 15% of the total time should be spent on an initial quick read-through of the background materials so you become familiar with the context, key issues, facts, data and others – make sure to take notes while reading!
  • 60% of the total time should be spent on drafting your answer while of course referencing each document, checking on the facts, finding further information and argumentation and supplying your essay with lots of great arguments
  • 20% of the time should be spent on reading through your case study answer, correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes, factual check of all information you inserted and a final proof-reading of the entire paper to make sure it is top quality.
With the above approach in mind, you will certainly score very well for the case study exercise!
 
 
 

raf 25 Sep 2013

Hi,

Good article,

I realise it may have been a while ago but I was wondering if you can suggest a structure for the answer if it has to be a presentation. I.e 1) intro 2) general issue 3) options 4) recomendation

Thanks

Raf

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