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Depending on the job position, case study exercises may be used by some companies to assess the capabilities of a candidate and determine how well they will perform after being selected. A case study exercise is one of many exercises employed in an assessment centre. The individuals participating in the exercise may be put in a simulated situation that they might face in real life on the job. Their response to the exercise will help determine the way they will behave while confronting the same problems in reality. Thus, analysis of this behaviour can help in evaluating if the candidate’s skill set is suited for the job.
In a case study exercise, the candidates are usually required to make decisions based on a set of information supplied to them. This information may relate to some aspect of the profession and may include financial reports, market studies or competition analysis. The exercise may be allotted to potential employees individually or they may participate as a group. Candidates may be asked to propose a plan of action based on their decision as a written report or a presentation. A group of assessors usually score the performance of the candidates.
Case study exercises usually help evaluate how a candidate analyzes information, the logical approach behind their decision-making process and the way they tackle difficult situations. They may help exhibit creativity, intuitiveness and out of box thinking of the candidates. The scenarios presented to the candidates in case study exercises are usually based on a few core subjects, including:
Besides these, some other scenarios may be simulated depending on the specific skills required for the job and the industry in which the candidate wishes to enter.
The performance of a candidate in a case study exercise will have a major role in their selection. Though the exercises can be complicated, a few tips can help the candidates master the same.
The point of perspective while analyzing the information is the main force in driving the decision-making process. For example, in a law firm’s case study exercise, a decision that has been taken by a prosecutor will be different from the one taken by a defendant. It is of utmost importance that a person keeps in mind the role they are assigned while deciding on the right plan of action. In the case of a group case study exercise, the candidate should consider the individuals associated with their role in the given scenario and reflect on the interaction and impact they may have in the analysis of the given situation and the decision-making process. If an individual is a client’s role is also a part of the environment, the same should be factored into the perspective.
Case study exercises may help evaluate the analytical abilities of the individuals and the candidates may be supplied with information related to multiple aspects of the role. The same should be analyzed by the candidate to determine which information should be kept and which should be discarded. There may be multiple conflicting issues to be addressed in a case study simulation, and recognition and prioritization of the consequential ones out of these are necessary.
A case study exercise may be timed to test the deadline meeting and stress management capabilities of the candidate. In such a scenario, the candidate should plan their approach to solving the case study based on the time available. Time conservation should be a priority and only relevant information should be analyzed while irrelevant one should be discarded. The focus should be on finding the most probable solution and trying to justify an unfavourable solution to be avoided.
Before arriving at a final decision, all possible solutions should be considered. Each of these should be analyzed for their feasibility, the time they will require to be implemented, the costs associated with them and their effectiveness at solving the problem. Irrelevant or unfeasible solutions may be marked off one by one depending on the role the candidate is having and the objective they are aiming to fulfil. In some cases, there may be no correct solution and multiple approaches may seem possible for solving the same set of problems. The solution and its implementation should have a solid foundation to be proposed and a plan of action should be implemented.
In a case study exercise, the candidate may be asked to present their analysis and findings. While presenting the same, the presenter should communicate the logic and motivation behind their decision, and justify the same. The candidate may be subjected to questioning by the assessors to probe their confidence and decision-making ability. The candidate needs to remain calm and assertive while responding, using a clear voice with audible pitch, hand gestures and expressions. If the candidate is a part of a group case study exercise, they should participate actively without trying to dominate the proceedings. They should share their viewpoints and lend valuable input to enable the group to arrive at a decision.
Practising mock case study exercises regularly can help a candidate ace the same when appearing in an assessment centre. There are multiple case study exercise examples available online as well as by some institutes to help the candidates prepare for assessment centres. Utilizing the same can familiarize a candidate with the case study exercise.
Finally, gathering information regarding the organization, job profile and any data that might be presented in the case study as well as the possible simulation exercise roles can help the candidate be aware of the possible scenarios beforehand. This may enable them to practice the case study exercise and be well-prepared for it.
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The data science team found that candidates increased their scoring accuracy through practice and went into their assessments more confident. Remember, you need to practice to make sure you familiarize yourself with the test formats, work on your accuracy and experience performing under time pressure.