Case Study / Case Study Interview
(also see case study questions)
Case study questions are used to test candidates' analytical skills, creativity and problem solving ability. They are also used to test candidates understanding of basic commercial principles and ability to interpret data from tables and charts. They can also be used to give candidates a sense of the type of work they will be doing at a firm. Often case study exercises can be linked in with group exercises, written and e-tray exercises at assessment centres.
Typically, a case study will consist of a business scenario that is presented to the candidate on one or several pages. The business scenario will often consist of a situation involving a client's business, and you will have to comment on what advice you would give the client in their current situation. Normally you will be given some time to study the information provided, and then discuss the case study as part of your interview.
Interviewers will be looking for:
- Your ability to reason logically.
- Your ability to justify your points clearly.
- Your ability to understand basic commercial principles.
- A sense of your strengths and weaknesses.
Answers do not require any specific knowledge. Most questions can be answered with common sense. Any information that is required for answering the case study questions will be provided.
In certain circumstances, interviewers may offer little or no background information with their questions. This puts added pressure on candidates, forcing them to work out a solution based on their own knowledge, or an analysis of the limited information available. This does not in general apply to candidates applying for accounting to the Big 4, and is relatively rare these days.
Strategy for the Case Study
- Use the preparation time effectively.
- Underline noteworthy sections in the text. This will help you work quicker and more accurately.
- You will normally be permitted to make notes and take these to the interview. Identify the key issues, and then prioritise them by importance so that you discuss the most pertinent issues first.
- When in the interview, stay focused on the case study, and do not get sidetracked into talking about the real-world industry unless asked to do so.
- Speak clearly. Remember they are assessing you analytical and reasoning skills.
- The interviewer will deliberately reason with you to force you to justify and defend your answers. Be prepared to justify all your main points.
- Remember, there are no right answers; consider all lines of argument however present one as your chosen opinion, mentioning why you discredited the other possibilities.
Now see case study questions.