What are Case Studies at Assessment Centres and how do I do well?

Case Studies during recruitment selection – useful tips

Case studies are used by many graduate employers as part of their recruitment process. They may form part of an assessment centre, interview or on-line selection tool. Here are some useful tips to help you be prepared to tackle whatever comes your way.

  1. Clarify the process

While you can’t get hold of the content of the case study in advance, it’s a good idea to remove some of the mystery by being clear about the process.

  • Is the case study an individual exercise, or will you be working on it with a group of other potential recruits?
  • How long will you be given?
  • Will it be paper-based or on screen?
  • How will you be asked to feed back your thoughts (e.g. presentation and or written report, group discussion etc)?

Sometimes employers will let you know the above as part of their recruitment communications. In other cases, you may find it helpful to drop an email to the HR representative to get come answers.

  1. What’s it all for?

The objectives of case studies are typically to give you the opportunity to showcase your ability to:

  • Deal with data in different formats (e.g. numerical, graphical, reports, informal memos)
  • Perform under pressure and to a deadline
  • Analyse information
  • Use critical reasoning
  • Prioritise
  • Make a decision
  • Communicate the reasons for your decision
  • Handle objections
  • Present (in writing and or/in person) your analysis and recommendations
  • Other specific objectives for the role/industry

Check the objectives for the case study and keep them in the front of your mind as you work. Remember there is usually more than one objective, so balance your approach. E.g. allow yourself enough time to analyse the information AND to communicate your findings really well.

  1. Is there a ‘right’ answer to the case study?

Generally, NO. Successful candidates will be those who use the information given to come to conclusions using clear and well-reasoned arguments.

Conflicting viewpoints and incomplete data are often part of the scenario you are given. So it’s more about a ‘right enough’ answer and doing a great job of arriving at (and communicating) that. Do, however look out for intentional inaccuracies and distractions in the material you are given, since getting caught out by these could damage your recommendations.

Our next post will be a case study dissected, so you can see an example worked out…

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