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How to approach a case study

An employer or recruiter will usually notify you in advance if you are required to complete a case study exercise. This will involve analysis of data and information provided by the company which you will be asked to analyse before presenting your findings.

Case studies usually take the format of a set of documents containing data and information which relates to either a hypothetical or actual situation involving the business. You will be given a set amount of time to perform the analysis and will then be asked to feed back to the interviewer either in a written report or verbally in person.

If you are required to provide written recommendations, make sure you use correct grammar and punctuation, even if you are struggling for time. It’s important that you communicate your thought process and ideas clearly. If you’re asked to present your findings verbally, make sure you take the interviewer through your thought processes step-by-step and justify each point.

You can practise for case studies by researching existing business reports from the company or similar businesses within the same industry. This way you will get a feel for the kinds of trends to look out for during the real thing. Do as much research as you can into the organisation, its products and markets, its competitors and the industry in which they operate.

When given the case study information, ensure you read the instructions and documents carefully and fully understand what is required of you. Read the whole document through once before beginning and once you have started keep you eye on the time.

Keep in mind that case study exercises are designed to assess the following:

  • planning and analysis skills
  • organisation and time management skills
  • problem-solving abilities
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • your thought processes and approach to tasks
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