What is a business case study

Case study: How to solve case studies in the assessment

More and more applicants are expected to give a specific job Case study to solve. For example, in the context of an assessment center, questions are asked about what approaches a candidate has for certain challenges in the company. Some applicants may feel overwhelmed by such a task, because they do not know the details of the company they are applying to, of course. However, that's usually less of a concern. How to Prepare for a Case Study ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is a case study?

In the course of study, the case study stands for empirical researchas used primarily in the social sciences, psychology and medicine. The aim here is to look at a case from several perspectives, to recognize peculiarities and - if possible - to solve it.

In addition, the case study (English = case study) a typical Method of personnel selection, which the following will deal with. Applicants are confronted with her when, for example, they spend a day in the assessment center instead of a classic job interview.

The candidate is presented with one or more cases, which are often based on everyday work. Sometimes the case study needs to be in individual work solved and then presented, for example, in a conversation with a HR manager.

It is also possible that an interviewer - for example as a customer - takes part in the case study and gives the applicant further information on how to solve the case study during the interview. It can also be a case study within a group to be edited.

Like almost all tasks, this is Time for a case study is short measured.

There are two types of case studies:

  • Short cases

    If the applicant receives short cases, several short problems often have to be solved one after the other. Usually the result is then presented in a presentation. In the case of short cases, the main focus is on problem solving.

  • Long case study

    For a long case study, the applicant is given ample informational material. This should help to solve the problem. A long case study is more likely to be used to review specialist knowledge, so it is usually submitted in writing.

What is the purpose of a case study?

For the HR manager, all of this is about one thing: How does the applicant cope with the situation? Does he manage it within the given time complex issues to concentrate on the most important things so that he can work out a solution?

Seen in this way, the case study is not dissimilar to the post basket exercise, which is also often part of assessment centers. Here, too, you first have to get an overview and quickly separate the important from the unimportant. Ultimately, it comes down to the question of whether the candidate is in everyday life withstand similar situations can.

Applicants should keep in mind: Nobody can solve such case studies 100 percent. This is partly due to the type (see below), and partly to the fact that it different approaches can give. From a company perspective, the decisive factor is whether your approach is similar to that of the company or whether it represents a promising solution to existing challenges.

The Focus on the different types case studies may vary. What they all have in common is that the following competencies of the applicant are tested:

  • Analytical ability
  • Comprehension
  • Resilience
  • Expertise
  • information gathering
  • Ability to concentrate
  • logical thinking skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • structured approach
  • entrepreneurial thinking

Special feature: case study in a group

The above properties are universally valid. If you are expected to solve a case study with other applicants, there are new requirements. In addition to being able to grasp things quickly and the ability to reduce complex interrelationships, you need to be much more powerful Demonstrate social skills.

What is needed now is a healthy mix Teamwork, assertiveness and cooperation skills: No HR manager will like to see you dominate other applicants in the group. The opposite, however, in which you dispassionately wave through all the suggestions of other team members without checking any points of criticism, should also not work.

What types of case studies are there?

Stress resistance matters for the applicant because you have to under time pressure solve the tasks. Also required: the ability to think outside the box. This competence is often described in job advertisements with the Anglicism “think out of the box”.

The case study is used in the area Consulting, IT, sales, but also engineers and project managers should expect case studies.

Basically all kinds of topics are possible - including those without direct company reference, especially with the brain teasers. For the business cases (German = business scenario), case studies with topics from the area of ​​leadership, vacation planning or the development of marketing strategies are most likely to be chosen.

  • Assessment tasks

    Targeted preparation for this type of case study is hardly feasible. Estimation tasks are also known as market size estimates or Fermi questions. This includes questions like:

    • How difficult is Berlin?
    • How many chocolates fit in a mini?
    • How many houses are there in Germany?
    • How many bikes are there in Copenhagen?


    Answering these questions exactly is almost impossible. That is not what these tasks are about. It is much more important to be able to estimate what the solution might be despite the poor information available. You can do this by approaching the goal with your general knowledge and realistic assumptions. What is required here is an experienced use of numbers and the ability to consider important influencing factors.

  • Brain teaser

    Even if brain teasers as a case study can basically be presented to every applicant in aptitude tests or in the assessment center: This task is particularly popular with investment banks and management consultancies.

    Brain teasers require logical thinking and a careful approach. The nasty thing about these tasks: The answer that seems obvious at first glance is often not the right solution. Therefore, you should allow yourself enough time for these tasks and examine them carefully for any pitfalls. A typical brain teaser is:

    You are in a rowboat on a small pond and have dropped anchor. When you catch up with him - does the water level rise or fall or does it even stay the same?

    For the solution, you should break the task down into individual parts. If something is unclear, ask. Ask for a pen and paper to take notes. When it comes to brain teasers, what counts is your ability to analyze and express yourself during the subsequent presentation.

  • Business cases

    Most likely, a case study will consist of a business case. These case studies come closest to everyday professional life, because they are based on possible company challenges. The applicant is often given a task in which the economic consequences of a company must be analyzed and justified.

    The following case studies are popular in business cases:

    • Launch of a new product: How can new markets be found? Can the new product be brought onto the market at a profit?
    • Profitability in the company: How can profits be increased, losses contained, what are the reasons for losses?
    • Behavior towards competitors (competitive response): Evaluation of the market data. What could a concept for behavior towards competition look like?
    • Change in the market environment: What influence do technical innovations and political upheavals have?
    • Mergers and Acquisitions: What can the framework conditions for a merger / takeover look like? What effects can be expected on your own company?

How-To Tips: How to Solve the Case Study

Preparing for case studies is difficult given the opportunities for Almost limitless tasks are. The tasks presented here can therefore only provide an insight into the nature of such case studies.

It is therefore not worthwhile to memorize the solutions to supposedly common tasks, as firstly completely different tasks can be set in the assessment center itself. Second is important to you under real conditions are still able to think and act.

Depending on the applicant and, above all, the position to be filled, the tasks can vary accordingly: Executives with many years of professional experience will very likely be presented with different tasks in the area of ​​business cases than, for example, applicants for a trainee position.

Therefore the following tips:

Before the assessment center

  • Find out more about the company.

    How is it set up, who are the competitors, what numbers can you find out? This background information will be helpful to you in business cases.

  • Practice the basic arithmetic.

    The basic arithmetic operations should be correct so that you do not waste valuable time on unnecessary brooding when doing arithmetic in writing.

  • Go to selection day well rested.

    Plan so that you will arrive relaxed and rested at your potential employer the next day. This also includes enough time to travel to the company.

During the assessment center

  • Read the case study carefully.

    Did you understand the task? Are you facing the right problem? To ensure this, you should break down the task into several sub-aspects. Before you are on the wrong track, you'd better ask questions - some case studies are intentionally kept open so that you can only solve the task with a cleared question.

  • Divide the time correctly.

    Make a schedule and be sure to use it as a guide. You shouldn't spend more than 20 percent of your time dealing with the above question. The remaining time should be devoted to solving the case study. It is important not to get lost in the details, but to take care of the big picture first.

  • Keep calm.

    Be open to the task, even if some things sound strange at the beginning. If you feel very nervous, you can reduce stress with breathing exercises. It is important that you avoid panic - this creates tunnel vision and the view for the right solution is blocked.

  • Work with tools.

    Depending on the type of task, it can be useful to work with certain tools for strategy analysis. These models are called frameworks in business administration.

  • Document the solution.

    Make notes and bullet points, do the math in writing. This makes your solutions easier for HR managers to understand and at the end of the case study you will still know how you came up with which thoughts.

Example of a case study with a solution

You work in a marketing agency. Your customer is a Craft businesswho offers tailor-made solutions for windows and doors. Unfortunately, orders have been falling lately, although there has been only positive feedback in the past. As a first measure, your customer has had new business cards printed and flyers distributed in the pedestrian zone. That was already a year ago. He is hoping for new ideas from you. How do you proceed?

Possible solution:

You get samples of the flyer and business card. You ask whether there is an internet presence. You will receive the information that there is actually a website; a Google search for "window construction" would only find it after scrolling through the hits on the fourth page several times.

This is followed by the following considerations:

  • How is the site structured?
  • Do the logo on the business card and flyer match the website?
  • Is the site user-friendly and clear?
  • Are the contact options clearly recognizable and the directions understandable?
  • Are prices for the products findable and transparent?
  • Is there a responsive design for research on smartphones?
  • How fast does the page load?
  • Is there an SSL encryption?
  • Is there a blog that offers tips on caring for window frames and glass, for example?
  • Information about different materials?
  • Are the texts written SEO-optimized? Are they well structured overall?
  • Are you working with too few / too many images?

Depending on what information you receive, you will develop your further course of action. Ideally: Would it turn out to be exactly these things when you asked completely out of date website of the customer have not been considered because they have not been maintained for ten years, you have enough room for improvement.

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