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Case Study Assessment - Learn How to Pass

A case study assessment is a popular tool used in assessment centres for evaluating candidates by presenting them with complex and previously unknown scenarios . After analyzing the information and identifying the most relevant parts, candidates answer questions that provide the employer with insights regarding important aspects of the candidate's knowledge, cognitive abilities, and personal attributes. 

Like other tests, preparing for the case study assessment can make a huge difference to your score. On this page we will review useful information that can help you arrive at your case study assessment better prepared and maximize your chances to pass and land the job you're after. 

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What is a Case Study Assessment

A case study assessment is a test in which candidates are presented with a scenario related to the position or the company's wider operations, followed by several questions that are designed to measure specific abilities. Through the candidate's answers, employers gain insight into their ability to handle tasks similar to those they might be responsible for in the future, thus indicating their problem solving abilities and compatibility with the job description. 

Typically, a case study assessment introduces a series documents such as reports and data from recent market research, which may relate to hypothetical or real-life situations. You are asked to analyze the case at hand, make business decisions, and/or give a brief verbal or written report of your recommendations. You may be asked to complete the case study as an individual exercise or as part of a group, which allows assessors to evaluate your teamwork.

The Two Main Types of Case Study Assessment

An assessment center case study will typically belong to one of two main categories:

Subject-related Case Study Assessment

In this type of case study assessment, specific and professional knowledge of the subject is required. In cases of candidates applying for a position in which industry knowledge is essential, the content of the case study will be directly relevant to that role . In these cases, candidates are required to use their existing knowledge and experience to identify key information from the brief.

For instance, project managers may be asked to plan for the release of a new product, which incorporates scheduling, budgeting and resourcing.

General Case Study Assessment

These case studies are designed for a broad audience of candidates who are tested for various positions. Answering the case study questions does not require any specific prior knowledge , and most questions can be answered with common sense. Any information that is required for answering the case study questions is provided by the assessor, whether orally or through additional documentation.

These case studies are much more popular as they can be completed by a large number of candidates applying for a wide array of positions.

What the Case Study Assessment Measures

The advantage of the assessment center case study is that it measures a number of elements simultaneously, giving the employer a picture which combines soft skills with cognitive abilities and even personality attributes. Through your answers, the employer can learn about your:

  • Judgement and understanding of the situation at hand
  • Thoroughness of analysis
  • Logical presentation of ideas
  • Practicality of the proposed solutions
  • Creativity and innovation in problem solving
  • Presentation abilities & communication skills
  • Ability to answer off the cuff comments
  • Commercial awareness
  • Organizational skills
  • Decisiveness

Which Types of Companies Use Assessment Centre Case Studies

  • The first type of assessment centre case study exercise is those for various positions in finance, banking , audit, marketing, IT, and others. These case studies are based on a large file of documents such as company reports you must quickly read and analyze. They may be completed as part of an assessment day or given at the employer's office as part of the interview. 
  • Another type of case study assessment you can find in assessment centres is for consultancy and business management companies. The scenario is usually described by the interviewer or is limited to a few pages. Generally, the task revolves around mathematical problems, estimation questions and strategic thinking. The candidate is expected to ask the assessor for more details in order to understand the problems at hand.  Learn more about these tests here .

Leading companies that Use Assessment Centre Case Studies:

  • EY (Ernst & Young)

Popular Assessment Center Case Study Topics

Case studies can be about virtually anything - however there are some topics or that appear more frequently than others. Below is a list of ideas you may encounter in your case study assessment:

  • Strategic decisions in global or local business contexts.
  • Expansion of departments, acquisition of new companies or products.
  • Entrance into new fields of development and product lines.
  • Exploring new markets.
  • Reconstructing organizational trees.
  • Creating advertising campaigns.
  • Competition analysis

Tips for Approaching Your Case Study Assessment

  • Immerse yourself in the case study -  try to imagine you really are in the scenario, and put yourself in the shoes of the decision maker and those he needs to report to. 
  • Time management -  as you will have a lot of data and documents to make sense of in a short period of time, your time management skills are being put to the test here. The key to success is learning how to identify key points and prioritize relevant information while ignoring the irrelevant, giving you the ability to work efficiently on the actual assessment day.
  • There is more than one ‘correct’ answer - a case study assessment usually has more than one right answer, and as long as you can logically justify your recommendations and they stand up to questioning by the assessor, your analysis can be regarded in a positive light.
  • Don't get lost in the nuances of a particular industry you are presented with in the case studies. Focus instead on tackling common challenges faced by most businesses. 
  • Client focus - all companies want to keep their clientele happy. If there is a client in the case study, put plenty of emphasis on them and their needs.
  • Be confident but not arrogant. When presenting, try to convey an air of knowledge and authority - without appearing overconfident or arrogant.
  • Practice your presentation skills with friends or family to reduce the pressure at the actual assessment centre. 

Common Questions in the Assessment Center Case Study

There are two main types of questions that can be asked by the assessors in an assessment center case study.

Quantitative questions involve basic mathematical operations, using of the four basic operations, percentages and ratios. Qualitative questions will relate to strategic decisions, future projections, and market analysis. Popular questions would be:

  • What penetration strategy do you find suitable for the market in question?
  • What are the changes that company Y must go through if it seeks the preservation of existing markets?
  • What are the approximate annual developmental costs of company X?

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Case Study Exercise At Assessment Centres

A case study exercise is a practical assessment commonly used in the latter stages of recruitment for graduate jobs. One of several activities undertaken at an assessment centre , this particular type of exercise allows employers to see your skills in action in a work-based context.

What is a case study exercise?

A case study exercise consists of a hypothetical scenario, similar to something you’d expect to encounter in daily working life. You’ll be tasked with examining information, drawing conclusions, and proposing business-based solutions for the situation at hand.

Information is typically presented in the form of fictional documentation: for example, market research findings, company reports, or details on a potential new venture. In some cases, it will be verbally communicated by the assessor.

You may also have additional or updated information drip-fed to you throughout the exercise.

You could be asked to work as an individual, but it’s more common to tackle a case study exercise as part of a group, since this shows a wider array of skills like teamwork and joint decision-making.

In both cases you’ll have a set amount of time to analyse the scenario and supporting information before presenting your findings, either through a written report or a presentation to an assessment panel. Here, you’ll need to explain your process and justify all decisions made.

Historically, assessment centres have been attended in person, but as more companies look to adopt virtual techniques, you may take part in a remote case study exercise. Depending on the employer and their platform of choice, this could be via pre-recorded content or a video conferencing tool that allows you to work alongside other candidates.

case study exercise assessment centre

What competencies does a case study exercise assess?

There are multiple skills under assessment throughout a case study exercise. The most common are:

Problem solving

In itself, this involves various skills, like analytical thinking , creativity and innovation. How you approach your case study exercise will show employers how you’re likely to implement problem-solving skills in the work environment.

Show these at every stage of the process. If working in a group, be sure to make a contribution and be active in discussions, since assessors will be watching how you interact.

If working solo, explain your process to show problem solving in action.

Communication

How you present findings and communicate ideas is a major part of a case study exercise, as are other communication skills like effective listening.

Regardless of whether you present as an individual or a group, make sure you explain how you came to your conclusions, the evidence they’re based on and why you see them as effective.

Commercial awareness and business acumen

Assessors will be looking for a broader understanding of the industry in which the company operates and knowledge of best practice for growth.

Standout candidates will approach their case study with a business-first perspective, able to demonstrate how every decision made is rooted in organisational goals.

Decision making

At the heart of every case study exercise, there are key decisions to be made. Typically, there’s no right or wrong answer here, provided you can justify your decisions and back them up evidentially.

Along with problem solving, this is one of the top skills assessors are looking for, so don’t be hesitant. Make your decisions and stick to them.

Group exercises show assessors how well you work as part of a team, so make sure you’re actively involved, attentive and fair. Never dominate a discussion or press for your own agenda.

Approach all ideas equally and assess their pros and cons to arrive at the best solution.

What are the different types of case study exercise?

Depending on the role for which you’ve applied, you’ll either be presented with a general case study exercise or one related to a specific subject.

Subject-related case studies are used for roles where industry-specific knowledge is a prerequisite, and will be very much akin to the type of responsibilities you’ll be given if hired by the organisation.

For example, if applying for a role in mergers and acquisitions, you may be asked to assess the feasibility of a buy-out based on financial performance and market conditions.

General case studies are used to assess a wider pool of applicants for different positions. They do not require specific expertise, but rather rely on common sense and key competencies. All the information needed to complete the exercise will be made available to you.

Common topics covered in case study exercises include:

  • The creation of new marketing campaigns
  • Expansion through company or product acquisition
  • Organisational change in terms of business structure
  • Product or service diversification and entering new markets
  • Strategic decision-making based on hypothetical influencing factors

Tips for performing well in case study exercises

1. process all the information.

Take time to fully understand the scenario and the objectives of the exercise, identify relevant information and highlight key points for analysis, or discussion if working as part of a team. This will help structure your approach in a logical manner.

2. Work collaboratively

In a group exercise , teamwork is vital. Assign roles based on individual skill sets. For example, if you’re a confident leader you may head up the exercise.

If you’re more of a listener, you may volunteer to keep notes. Avoid conflict by ensuring all points of view are heard and decisions made together.

3. Manage your time

Organisational skills and your ability to prioritise are both being evaluated, and since you have a set duration in which to complete the exercise, good time management is key.

Remember you also need to prepare a strong presentation, so allow plenty of scope for this.

Make an assertive decision

There’s no right answer to a case study exercise, but any conclusions you do draw should be evidenced-based and justifiable. Put forward solutions that you firmly believe in and can back up with solid reasoning.

5. Present your findings clearly

A case study exercise isn’t just about the decisions you make, but also how you articulate them. State your recommendations and then provide the background to your findings with clear, concise language and a confident presentation style.

If presenting as a group, assign specific sections to each person to avoid confusion.

How to prepare for a case study exercise

It’s unlikely you’ll know the nature of your case study exercise before your assessment day, but there are ways to prepare in advance. For a guide on the type of scenario you may face, review the job description or recruitment pack and look for key responsibilities.

You should also research the hiring organisation in full. Look into its company culture, read any recent press releases and refer to its social media to get a feel for both its day-to-day activities and wider achievements. Reading business news will also give you a good understanding of current issues relevant to the industry.

To improve your skills, carry out some practice case study exercises and present your findings to family or friends. This will get you used to the process and give you greater confidence on assessment centre day.

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Assessment Centre Case Studies Practice & Tips – 2024

Aptitude Written Exams

Case studies are a central part of the exercises making up most assessment centres . Employers use them to provide valuable insight into the applicants. They provide a way to assess a graduate or job-seeker’s capability and their potential performance after selection. To do this, the assessment centre presents the candidate with a simulated situation that might be faced on the actual job and waits to see how the candidate will respond. The information assessors collect proves invaluable to companies as they work through the screening and hiring process with the candidates who are most likely to perform well in the job opening.

What Is a Case Study Exercise?

Case studies are simulation exercises that put a candidate into situations they might actually see while on the job. The exercises can be done as a group or individually. Which it is will depend on the employer and the assessment centre. The case studies typically provide information that includes financial reports, market studies, or competition analysis and other information that may relate to any aspect of the profession. It may also provide other company reports, consultant’s reports, new product research results, and more. This makes the exercise similar in some ways to an in-tray exercise though the documents are longer for a case study.

Key Features of Case Studies

The exercise can be presented at the end either in written report format or as a presentation, depending on the preference of those running the exam. The assessors then evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyze information with a logical approach to decision making and their aptitude for tackling difficult situations. From there, they score performance.

Case study exercises often are based on a few core topics. Some of these include:

  • Finding the feasibility and profitability for the introduction of a new product or service
  • Merger, acquisition, or joint venture related managerial decisions
  • Annual report evaluation and profitability and loss analysis
  • Task prioritization and problem-solving with a given deadline

Many times, the case study’s theme or scenario provides the stage for other assessment centre exercises, so paying attention to what the scenario is and the information provided about it can prove helpful in further exercises. If this is the case, the problem-solving case study is likely to show up as one of the first few exercises you do after re-taking the necessary psychometric aptitude assessments for score confirmation.

Competencies Required for Case Studies

The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are:

  • Analytical thinking and assimilation of information
  • Commercial awareness and Innovation
  • Organization
  • Decisiveness and Judgment

The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions. The assessors will look at both the decision reached and the logical justification for the recommendations. Because of this, the test is not designed to have one ‘correct’ answer. Instead, it is concerned with the approach to solving the issue as much as it is with the solution.

This is the point in the assessment and pre-hiring process where candidates should show the recruiters what they can do. Usually, the exercise lasts around forty minutes. Employers may use either fictional examples or, in some cases, even real live projects with the sensitive information replaced for fictional information.

Due to the nature of the exercise, job-seekers and graduates taking this type of assessment should possess several key skills. They must be able to interpret large quantities of data from multiple sources and in varying formats, use analytical and strategic analysis to solve problems, formulate and commit to a decision, demonstrate commercial and entrepreneurial insight on a problem, and use oral communication skills to discuss the decisions made and the reasoning behind them. Without these key abilities, case exercises may prove challenging for individuals.

How to Prepare for Case Study Exercises?

With the large amount of information presented on assessment centre case studies and the many things to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start. Particularly for those participating in a graduate assessment centre case studies with no prior experience with assessment centres, the case study may seem daunting.

However, it is possible to prepare with some case study practice and by reviewing assessment case study examples similar to the ones that will be given in your assessment centre. These tips for preparation and practice as well the day of will help those facing a case study assessment to do so with confidence.

Case Studies: Tips for Success

Review the advice below as you begin to prepare for the assessment centre:

  • If it is a group exercise , show the recruiters you can work with the team.
  • For a group exercise, determine what roles individuals in the scenario are associated with and how they may interact with your or impact the analysis and decision-making process.
  • Determine what information needs to be kept and what should be discarded as early on as possible.
  • Manage time carefully and plan your approach based on the time available to you.
  • Consider all possible solutions and analyze them carefully before choosing a decision.
  • When finished, ensure that you have a solid foundation for the proposal and a plan of action to implement for your chosen solution.
  • Make sure you communicate that foundation and the logic behind your decision.
  • When presenting as a group, actively participate but avoid dominating the conversation or situation.
  • Gather information on the organization, job profile, and any other data that could be in the case study to be prepared before assessment day if possible.
  • If you do not need to present for a group exercise, consider nominating yourself as someone who can respond to questions.
  • Practice structuring and delivering presentations in a case study format before testing.

If you follow the advice above and put in enough time practising and preparing to feel confident, you should be able to ace this portion of your assessment centre. Remember that the solution is not the most important thing about this exercise. How you work with others and the reasoning behind your answer is. So, use the time you have wisely and do not overlook anything as you work to come to a good solution. As you do this, relax and use this as a chance to show the recruiters that you really know what you said you did during the interview stage . That is what this exam is about.

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Case Study Exercises are commonly used in assessment centres, and often are unique to each company.

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  • What is a Case Study exercise

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How do case study exercises work.

Updated: 08 September 2022

Assessment Centre Exercises:

  • Analysis Exercise
  • Role Play Exercise
  • Group Exercise
  • Presentation Exercise

During an assessment day, it is common that you need to undertake a case study exercise . These exercises place candidates in real-life situations where they are tasked with solving problems faced by professionals in the real world. A case study typically involves being given various documents containing different information, either detailing a problem or situation that needs dealing with and requiring the candidate to resolve the issue at hand by formulating a plan. The problems or situation in the case study will be similar if not identical to problems encountered in the role itself. Candidates are also provided with background information to the elements of the case study, whether these be details of fictitious companies or sales figures, or other. The resolutions or solutions provided by the candidate regarding the problems are part of the assessment centre performance rating.

Why are case study exercises used?

Case study exercises are proficient predictors of role performance as they will resemble the work being done on the job. Therefore, case study exercises typically tilt highly on an assessment centre rating for candidates. Likewise, if a presentation exercise is required after the case study, based on details brought up during the case study, then your case study rating will likely impact your presentation exercise rating. Equally, this may manifest into the role play exercise which will do a similar thing to the presentation exercise – carrying on the case study situation. It is also entirely possible for the case study to be continued in a group exercise – which evaluate a candidate’s ability to work in a team. Given all this, you will need to perform well in the case study exercise to ensure a high rating.

What will the case study exercise be like?

As mentioned, the case study exercise you will be asked to perform will be similar to the type of work you will have to do in the role you are applying for.

The case study exercise may be purchased off the self from a test provider who specialize in the test style. This will mean that it won't be fully specific to the company you are applying to, but will be related to the role. Likewise, it can be designed bespoke if the organization requires specific role assessment. It's likely the larger and harder to get into the company is, the more tailored their exercises will be.

How can I prepare for the case study exercise?

Analysing technical documents and company reports may be helpful practice in preparation for a case study exercise. This will give a chance to familiarize yourself with the types of information typically found in these documents, and thus the case study exercise. Practicing case study exercises will also act as great preparation and they will provide a great insight into how they work and how they are to be handled. This will also prevent any unnecessary unknowns you could have before taking a case study exercise, as you will have already experienced how they work in practice.

We have an assessment centre pack which contains an example of the exercises you could face.

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Who are Next CIty Lawyer?

We are a team of qualified lawyers from US, Magic Circle and Silver Circle law firms law firms.  We publish articles like this one every fortnight to give you the inside scoop on how to secure your training contract.

With years of experience analysing and reviewing documents for some of the world's most sophisticated clients, we've channeled the same level of care and attention into curating our database of successful applications to world's best commercial law firms.

Introduction to training contract assessment centres

Law firm assessment centres are daunting events, but they are the final hurdle that you need to clear to secure a vacation scheme or training contract.  

This article explains how to prepare for the two most common assessment centre exercises at commercial law firms.  We will cover:

  • Competency / motivational interviews which focus on whether you have the right skills and attitude to succeed on your training contract
  • Commercial case studies which test your ability to think logically and deal with common commercial topics

You may encounter additional tests which form part of the recruitment process at your assessment centre (e.g. group exercises, written exercises, psychometric tests or negotiation exercises). We plan to release other articles covering common topics like how to succeed in group exercises at assessment days shortly.

Competency / Motivational Interview

This interview is by far the most common kind of assessment you will face at law firm assessment centres. Although they vary in time, length and structure, most candidates will have to answer competency and motivational interview questions.

  • Competency questions focus on your skills. These questions are open-ended (e.g. ‘tell me about a time when…’) and then state a situation or a particular skill. For example, ‘tell me about a time when you demonstrated good teamwork’.
  • Motivational questions are questions which relate to your motivations or commitment towards a career in commercial law or the law firm you are interviewing at. Such questions may be phrased as follows: ‘why do you want to pursue a career in commercial law?’, or ‘why do you want to train at [ insert firm here ]?’.

Many candidates find these kinds of questions challenging. They are personal in nature and require preparation in advance.  It’s unlikely that you can improvise an answer of sufficient quality on the spot. The aim is prepare so effectively that your answer ticks all of the boxes on your interviewer’s marking scheme while sounding completely natural.

Preparation

It's worth over-indexing on preparation before your assessment day.

The first step is to prepare a table of competency/motivational questions: write down typical questions on the left-hand side and leave space for your answers in the right-hand column.  

You should write out your answers in full. However, we would suggest putting a word limit of 400 words per answer. The average person speaks at approximately 150 words per minute. This means that a 400 word answer would take you just over 2.5 minutes to get through. It’s important to speak at a pace that is easy to follow, so a 2.5 minute answer should take about three minutes to deliver at interview.

By writing out your answers, you are able to formulate a strong, logical structure and provide yourself with a safety net should your mind suddenly go blank in the interview.

For illustrative purposes only, it may look something like this:

Example of format to use when preparing answers for interview

Naturally, your table will have far more rows that the one above. We would recommend that you prepare answers for the following basic competencies:

  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Organisation and time management
  • Communication skills (including examples of dealing with difficult people/persuasion/negotiation)
  • Entrepreneurship/innovation
  • Determination/motivation
  • Dealing with a set-back/failure
  • Adaptability/flexibility

After you have prepared your answers, you may then want to transition to flashcards. Write the question on one side, and a bullet point version of your answer on the other side. Mix up the cards and test yourself on them until you can confidently answer the questions with responses that range from one to three minutes long.

Application

When you are in the real interview, it is unlikely that it will be a robotic question-and-answer process. Your interviewer is likely to adopt a conversational tone and expect that you do the same.  Notwithstanding your thorough preparation, it is important that you deliver your answers in a natural manner

Once you know your answers off by heart, you should take some small liberties with the script you have prepared. This will allow your tone to be more natural and appear more spontaneous. This is an old actors’ trick: you must know your lines so well that you are able to act as though that they are coming to your head in the moment, just like the character in the scene would have happen to them.

Some interviewers will ask you direct questions, whilst some will amend the questions, which will force you to change your answer in the moment. However, so long as you have done your preparation, you need not worry – you already have the answers in your head.  All you need to do is shuffle the content around to provide an appropriate response.

For example, your interviewer may ask you ‘tell me about a time when you have demonstrated strong organisational skills’. You may give your response, and the interviewer replies with, ‘that is great – but what about when that does not work out? How do you deal with that?’. This question is technically a follow-up question about your organisational skills but alludes to your ability to deal with set-backs and failure.

Consequently, you should answer with a response that transitions from your organisational answer to your set-backs answer. Again, if you have done your preparation, this will come naturally as you will not be trying to quickly make up a retort on the spot.

Case Study / Presentation Exercise

Pen on paper with the words "tackling case studies"

One of the most challenging assessments that candidates face at assessment centres is the case study/presentation exercise. This assessment is a test of your comprehension skills, commercial awareness and your application of technical knowledge.  It differs to group exercises because it's usually 1-1, rather than alongside other candidates.

The exercise will usually involve you receiving a bundle of documents to review over the course of 30-45 minutes. You will probably receive some prompts and questions within the documents and, at the end of the allotted time, you will relay your findings to a partner over the course of a 5-15 minute presentation.

Like mock exam papers, the best way to prepare for a case study is to carry out practice tests before your assessment day.  The NCL practice case study is our own custom case study that covers many of the areas that law firms will assess you on.  By itself, though, that’s not enough – you need feedback on improvement points and visibility of what the best answers involve.  Our case study therefore includes step-by-step commentary with a model answer and an explanation of the concepts employed.

Other than the NCL case study, there are some other ways to supplement your knowledge. Crucially, you should be looking to build your technical knowledge. By technical knowledge we mean your financial, commercial, and legal knowledge. This includes topics like:

  • Acquisition structure (sale purchase or asset purchase).
  • Acquisition financing (debt or equity).
  • Representations, warranties and indemnities.

Alongside this, you will also need to have broader commercial acumen. You will be expected to analyse a situation and consider whether it makes good commercial sense. For example, you may be asked whether your client, an e-commerce business, should acquire a high-street retailer who only has bricks-and-mortar stores. If your client only wants to expand its online presence, the acquisition seems like a bad idea. Furthermore, bring in your knowledge of current affairs: the pandemic has accelerated the decline of the high-street. Hence, even if your client wants to have a physical presence, you may want to advise them on the risks of pursuing that objective.

Building your commercial awareness and technical knowledge is a staightforward but time-consuming process.  We recommend the following actions:

  • Listen to the Financial Times News Briefing podcast every morning. It's about 10 minutes long and gives an excellent summary of the most important commercial news stories
  • Read the Financial Times or the Economist's business section as much as possible
  • Read the same legal press that the law firm partners read. Legal Business is particularly insightful
  • Watch one hour of Bloomberg TV a day (it is free for one hour each day). This is more advanced but will give you an excellent insight into financial matters and provide you with some top-level analysis
  • Read some basic introductory books on commercial concepts (e.g. Stoakes’ ‘All you need to know about the City’)
  • Use Investopedia to look up concepts you do not understand and to build some deeper knowledge
  • Take online courses on commercial concepts (like private equity) on platforms like Coursera or edX

Once you have amassed a decent amount of knowledge, it is vital that you put it to the test in a practice case study/presentation exercise.  Testing yourself against a practice case study exercise is the best way to know whether you at the appropriate level to succeed or if more work is required.

After you have used the practice case study materials, you will be able to identify gaps in your knowledge and thoroughly prepared for the actual assessment. Then, all that remains is to do the real thing!

This article has summarised the two main kinds of assessment you are likely to face at a law firm assessment centre. The first is the competency/motivational interview. To prepare for this, we recommend drafting a question-and-answer table, writing flashcards, and rehearsing answers.

The second assessment is the case study/presentation exercise. To prepare for this, we strongly recommend getting a hold of our practice case study exercise and practicing. We also recommend, in tandem, building your commercial awareness and technical knowledge by reading, listening, and watching a variety of media that is designed to educate you on a broad range of commercial and financial concepts.

Get your copy of case study/presentation assessment here .  Remember, unlike others, our case study exercise comes with a detailed commentary which walks you through the exercise, provides model answers, and explains the relevant commercial concepts.

We hope you found this article useful – if you did, please share it with other candidates who might find it helpful!

So, what next?

If you are ready to move from research to action, you should look at our application database BEFORE you put pen to paper on your applications. You wouldn't walk into an exam hall without carefully reviewing past papers.  It's exactly the same with applications to law firms. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

Most candidates read a few well-intentioned but obvious articles on how to apply to law firms.  Most candidates then spend a couple of hours writing an application before optimistically submitting it.  But most candidates don't even get an interview.  Every year, thousands of candidates are part of the 90% that are rejected at first round.

Join us as part of the successful 10% instead. Let us give you an unfair advantage: through our comprehensive analysis of successful applications to every major law firm, our qualified lawyers will break down the ingredients of a phenomenal application.  We will help you beat the odds, secure your interview and then avoid final-round failure at your assessment centre.

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The Full Guide to Investment Banking Assessment Centers

Investment Banking Assessment Centers

If you're new here, please click here to get my FREE 57-page investment banking recruiting guide - plus, get weekly updates so that you can break into investment banking . Thanks for visiting!

Over time, investment banking recruiting has become more impersonal with developments like HireVue interviews , online tests, and recruiters conducting the initial screens .

People often complain about how it’s impossible to make a “good first impression” in a pre-recorded video or when speaking to a hapless recruiter.

Ironically, though, the most personal part of the recruiting process – the assessment center – also generates many complaints.

If you’re about to attend an investment banking assessment center, you can look forward to a fun-filled day of activities, case studies, group exercises, and even more interviews and verbal/math/logical tests.

When everything moved online for a few years, people predicted the end of assessment centers, but they adapted and survived – and I think they’ll become even more important in the future:

What is an Assessment Center, and When Should You Expect One?

Investment Banking Assessment Center Definition: The assessment center (AC) is the final step in the IB recruiting process in places like Hong Kong, London, and other parts of EMEA ; it requires you to complete online tests, case studies, group exercises, and specialized tasks in addition to standard interviews.

An AC is broader than the typical Superday in the U.S. since you complete a wide range of tasks beyond standard 30-minute interviews.

At some banks and groups in the U.S., candidates memorize obscure technical questions, and interviewers ask about these topics and dig in until they find something the interviewee can’t answer.

But this behavior is less common in any region that uses ACs.

You’re better off developing a broader set of skills , such as how to work in a group, prioritize emails, and give a simple presentation, rather than memorizing technical details.

In regions like London and Hong Kong , ACs are used for investment banking , sales & trading , and other areas at banks and consulting firms.

I will focus on the investment banking AC here to avoid turning this article into a novella (for S&T tips, see the article on rates trading ).

Banks mostly use assessment centers to recruit university and Master’s students for internships and full-time roles, so you’re much less likely to attend one if you’re a lateral hire or you’re at the MBA level .

ACs sometimes come up when you apply for off-cycle internships , but it depends on your timing and how many others apply at the same time.

OK, But Why Do Investment Banking Assessment Centers Exist?

Banks use ACs to make sure that candidates are competent and qualified in real life – not just on paper.

When you apply for IB roles in a place like London, you must submit an online application, go through an initial interview or HireVue, submit competency questions, and complete online tests.

These eliminate a certain percentage of applicants, but plenty of people cheat on these tests, take them in pairs, or use tools like ChatGPT to do the work for them.

But even beyond these problems, these tests are inherently limited because they have little correlation with on-the-job performance.

Traditional investment banking interviews are also deceptive because some people are great at BSing their way through a 30-minute discussion, even if they’re terrible at the job.

But it’s much harder to deceive your way through an assessment center because:

  • You must be there in-person , so it’s easy to tell if you’re cheating (and even if it’s “virtual,” you’re still doing everything in front of other people).
  • You must work with other humans for at least part of the AC, which means you can succeed only if you work in a team.
  • Finally, you must complete tasks similar to the ones in banking – the fact that you memorized the WACC formula means nothing if you can’t use the concepts to advise a client.

The best way to assess someone is to give them a 10-12-week internship and see how they perform, but that is expensive and impractical for thousands of applicants.

So, ACs act as a bit of a compromise:

Investment Banking Assessment Center Pyramid

If you’re wondering why assessment centers are universal in London but not in the U.S., I am not 100% certain.

My guess is that banks want to standardize the process and properly compare applicants since students there come from many different countries, educational systems, etc.

This is less of a problem in the U.S. because most applicants have attended university in the country, so there are fewer “cross-cultural communication” issues.

What to Expect in an IB Assessment Center

The structure, timing, tasks, and number of candidates vary by bank, but you might expect something like this:

  • Number of Candidates: A few dozen in a single day (maybe 30 – 40 total).
  • Universities: Expect heavy representation from the top U.K. and European target schools (Oxbridge, LSE, Bocconi, IE, HEC, etc.) along with a few students from semi-targets and non-targets.
  • Offer Rate: Around the same as a Superday; expect something in the 20 – 40% range.
  • Total Time Required: Around 4 – 6 hours (excluding transportation time).
  • Interviews: Expect 2 – 3 interviews for 60 – 90 minutes total.
  • Online Tests: They may ask you to take or re-take one or more of the earlier tests, which could consume another ~30 minutes.
  • Other Tasks: They might ask you to complete something specialized, like an in-tray exercise (see below), which could take another ~30 minutes.
  • (Group) Case Study: Expect a solo or group case study that might take 45 – 60 minutes. If they give you both a solo and a group case study, this will be more like 90 – 120 minutes.
  • Social/Networking: Finally, there may be a networking panel or “social event,” such as a group lunch, which will take another 30 – 60 minutes.

Before you go through any of this, one simple tip is to arrive as early as possible , even if it means camping out at a coffee shop nearby.

If you’re even a few minutes late, you might be eliminated before the festivities begin!

Some of the AC tasks above are simple, while others require more explanation:

IB Assessment Centers, Part 1: Interviews

There are no huge differences here, but expect interviewers to do more cross-checking to verify that you’re telling a consistent story – since they can easily compare notes.

You’re also more likely to speak to senior bankers than in the first rounds.

You might also want to do some firm-specific research (e.g., look up a few recent deals), especially if you only have 2-3 ACs rather than 10 or 15.

Honestly, though, if you are prepared with your story , fit/behavioral questions , and decent technical skills, you shouldn’t kill yourself with even more prep.

IB Assessment Centers, Part 2: Re-Taking the Online Tests

It’s very easy to cheat, so banks may give you slight variations of the same tests on-site, with no internet access, to verify your scores.

The questions resemble the ones you might find on the GMAT or the “mental math” questions common in sales & trading interviews . Here’s an example:

Sample Assessment Center Math Question

Q: Suppose that the market value of the real estate in France increases by 10% next year. How much would it be worth?

A: There’s 540 total, so 540 * 10% = 54, and 54 * 5% = 27.

Therefore, the value of real estate in France is currently 3 * 54 + 27 = 3 * 50 + 3 * 4 + 27 = 150 + 12 + 27 = 189.

10% of 189 is 18.9, so the value would increase to 189 + ~19 = ~208 next year.

These questions are not difficult, but they can be challenging to finish within the time limit (often 15 – 30 minutes per test), so you need to practice repeatedly.

Some banks, like JPM, also give “Situational Judgment Tests” (SJTs), where they describe a work situation and ask how you might respond (in multiple choice format).

IB Assessment Centers, Part 3: E-Tray / In-Tray and Other Specialized Tasks

These exercises give you 5-10 minutes to read files or information about a client or ongoing deal.

Then, you’ll start receiving “simulated emails” that you’ll need to respond to (via multiple choice questions), and you might have to explain or justify your decisions afterward.

For example, you might get an urgent client request, a VP’s request to schedule a meeting for a potential client, and the same VP who wants to know the dates of an upcoming IPO roadshow .

You must prioritize and respond to these emails using the information you gathered in the beginning and common sense (i.e., client requests matter more than internal ones).

The most common mistakes here include ignoring or overlooking information and forgetting about date and time conflicts .

In the scenario above, for example, you wouldn’t want to schedule a VP’s potential client meeting on any of the same days as the IPO roadshow.

NOTE: It appears that these exercises may be less common now (as of 2023). ACs seem to have shifted to interviews and case studies, but feel free to leave a comment and clarify this point if you’ve completed one recently.

IB Assessment Centers, Part 4: Presentations, Case Studies, and Group Exercises

If you’ve already done well enough to make it to the AC, you can probably handle everything above with ease – but the case studies are a different story.

The two main variants here are solo exercises and group exercises .

If it’s a solo exercise, they might give you 30 – 60 minutes to do something like:

  • Read information about a company and draft a profile in PowerPoint .
  • Complete a modeling test , such as a simple merger model , the Enterprise Value bridge calculation , valuation multiples, or credit stats and ratios in different scenarios.
  • Complete a pencil-and-paper test for the tasks above to test your understanding and arithmetic skills.
  • Read about a company and draft a report , similar to an equity research report , describing its key risks, opportunities, and current valuation.
  • Read about several target companies and recommend the best acquisition for the larger company you are advising.

You should not expect a detailed financial modeling test or other Excel interview test ; these short case studies usually involve “back of the envelope” math.

The 3-statement model and LBO modeling test on this site are highly unlikely, as they’re too complex and require too much time to check.

If you want example of solo case studies, please see:

  • This assessment center case study based on a simple merger model .
  • A few sample “company profile” slides in different formats .
  • This qualitative M&A case study, inspired by an assessment center .

The group exercise , which might last 45 – 60 minutes, is more likely to involve advising a client or potential client:

  • Of target companies A, B, and C, which one should Company X acquire?
  • Should Company Y raise debt or equity to expand into a new region?
  • Of acquisition offers D, E, and F, which one should Company Z accept?
  • Should our bank onboard Company Q as a client? Why or why not?
  • Which M&A process should Company W follow if it wants to sell? Targeted or broad, and should it sell to a strategic or a financial sponsor ?

As with the solo exercises, complex Excel work and financial models are unlikely.

The “answer” and its reasoning are also straightforward in most cases.

If you want to see an example, look at this debt vs. equity case and the logic – any test you get in real life would have even simpler numbers.

The best advice is to be structured, boring, and simple ; people do poorly when they fail to state the answer upfront or make it overly complicated.

Since the numbers and logic are simple, the real test is evaluating how well you work in a team. Some tips include:

  • Strike a balance between being quiet and talkative. For example, aim to contribute one targeted comment or question every 3-4 minutes, but never speak for 3 minutes straight.
  • Volunteer for the “boring tasks,” such as keeping time, taking notes, and assembling the final presentation, since you want to come across like a team player.
  • Avoid interrupting others or being negative, even if they say something incredibly stupid or ridiculous.
  • Bring others into the discussion, especially team members who have been quiet.
  • Use everyone’s first names as much as possible to show your attention to detail and personal touch.
  • In the final presentation , make sure everyone has at least some speaking role, even if it’s short.

There is no great way to practice these group exercises, but there are some tricks for improving (see the bottom section of this article).

What Happens After the Assessment Center?

As with the Superday, you’ll generally hear back quickly if you’ve won an offer, but it can sometimes take a few weeks; all you can do in the meantime is follow up occasionally.

If you have your interviewers’ contact details, it’s worth sending a few quick, personalized “thank you” messages.

Finally, you should also write down as much as you can remember about the exercises, interviews, and case studies at the AC immediately after you finish , so you have it as a reference for your next one.

How to Practice and Prepare for Investment Banking Assessment Centers

Assuming you’ve legitimately prepared for the initial interviews, you shouldn’t “need” much additional work. Dozens of articles on this site have tips, and you can get even more details in the IB Interview Guide .

For the online tests , we recommend JobTestPrep and the packages they offer for the verbal, math, logic, personality, and other tests (yes, this is an affiliate link, so I earn a small amount if you buy something through it).

For the case studies and group presentations , I recommend the following:

  • Complete 3-4 solo practice case studies on company profiles, acquisition recommendations, debt vs. equity, and evaluations of recent deals. It’s worth spending 10 – 15 hours on this, but I don’t think you need to spend 40+ hours on it.
  • There are several examples of AC-style case studies in the Interview Guide, but you can also create your own case studies based on news and recent deals.

For example, if you see that Company X recently raised debt or issued equity, download the company’s most recent annual report, give yourself 60 minutes, and write a quick evaluation of whether this was the right decision.

  • Speed and simplicity are crucial. It’s much better to be 50% correct and 100% finished rather than 100% correct and 50% finished.

For the group dynamics, one option is to join a student investment club or case competition and go through the required teamwork there.

The best way to practice, though, is to keep doing assessment centers until you see the same scenarios repeatedly.

By the end, you’ll wonder why they seemed scary – as they become repetitive rather than intimidating.

assessment centre case study presentation

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street . In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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Deliver a presentation that's worthy of a graduate job

targetjobs editorial team

Last updated: 25 Jan 2023, 13:39

If the thought of speaking in front of a mixed group of candidates and assessors fills you with dread, follow our pointers for a perfect presentation.

An audience watching a presentation

Most assessors tell us that candidates who are asked to give a presentation as part of an interview or assessment centre do well – it is typically the exercise that they are strongest at. Many students, however, tell us that this is the exercise that they are most nervous about. So, in this article, we:

  • explain the type of presentations you may be given
  • advise you on the essential preparation required to create one
  • give you our top tips on how to present in an impactful, professional way

And your specialist subject is… presentation topics for graduates

You’ll be given one of two types of presentation at an assessment centre, whether it is held in person or virtually :

  • An individual presentation that you prepare in advance. You will be given a brief for this, which will tell you what it should be about and how long it should be. You could be asked to prepare something about you, for example a hobby or interest that you are passionate about or about your dissertation/final-year project. Alternatively, you might be set a ‘business problem’ related to the sector and required to present your solution.
  • An individual or group presentation that you’ll be set on the day. This is usually given as an add-on to a case study exercise , in which you are asked to present your conclusions or recommendations from the case study to the assessors and other candidates.

At a job interview (no matter whether it is held over a video platform or in person) you will be given option 1 and will usually only be presenting to your interviewers.

If you have a choice of topics, choose a subject you know or understand well. Don't go for something you are less familiar with because you think it will be more impressive. It is better to present confidently on a simple topic with which you feel comfortable.

Embrace your inner-Sherlock Holmes… how to prepare for presentations

Before we look at structure, confident speaking and dealing with visual aids, the biggest tip we can give you is to find out as much as you can about what's required before the day. To give yourself the best chance, find out the following:

  • the subject you will be talking on: this is usually provided in the brief, but do check if you are unsure about the scope.
  • the length of the presentation and whether this includes time for questions.
  • (if the assessment day or interview is held in person) the facilities and visual aids available or the equipment you will need: whether you need to bring a laptop, whether you will have wifi access etc.
  • (if the assessment day or interview is held virtually) what platform you will be using, how to share a presentation on it, whether you should email your presentation to the recruiter in advance etc.
  • who you will be speaking to and their level of knowledge and expertise in the subject. This will help you pitch your talk at the right level. If you are presenting the results to a case study, the assessors often play the role of a client or board of directors and you should tailor your content appropriately.

Then start with your presentation's structure... make it memorable

Giving your presentation a good structure will make you feel less nervous on the day. A structure is helpful to the audience too. It helps them know where they are and what's to come.

Give your presentation a beginning, middle and an end. At the beginning, welcome your audience and set the scene: let your audience know what you will cover.

If you have five-minutes your middle section will take about three of them. That's enough for two or three main points.

Don't try to cram in too much detail: a few points, well made, is best. You might want to break it into three memorable points you want your audience to take away with them. Remember what it feels like to listen to a speaker. Too much information and you begin to switch off. Prune your talk to the essentials.

The end should be a summary of what you have covered. Invite questions from the audience and when that's finished, thank them for their attention.

Get the insights and skills you need to shape your career journey with Pathways. Informed by years of conversations with recruiters, this course will give you the best tips and resources, allowing you to feel more at ease presenting to others.

The fundamentals of presenting well

The visual aids… how much is too much?

How many slides or pieces of paper should you have? This entirely depends on the topic and length of the presentation, how much information you put on each slide and how many slides you need to make your point well. As a general rule of thumb, however, your presentation should be book-ended by:

  • a title slide
  • an introductory slide outlining what you will cover
  • a final ‘thank you and any questions?’ slide.

In between, you probably only need one or two slides per main point you are making (so between two and six for a five-minute presentation). You can use more if it would better illustrate your points, but remember the need to keep to time.

If you are asked to prepare a presentation in advance and you are given the choice about whether to create visual aids, always do so. It will make your presentation more memorable to the audience.

The visual aids... pretty makes an impact

Be ruthless with the content: your entire talk shouldn’t be crammed onto slides or flip chart paper. Rather, they are to summarise those memorable take-home points we mentioned earlier. A clear heading and a couple of bullet points is plenty. Consider using simple diagrams, charts or graphs to illustrate your points. Keep the design style straightforward and professional (no Comic Sans).

Step into the spotlight… body language and voice tricks

Most of the message of your talk will be transmitted by how you say it. Some of the points below will be most useful for in-person assessment centres, while others will also relate to those that are held virtually. You can still maintain confident body language and control your tone of voice while speaking into your laptop, for instance.

  • A welcoming smile is good for both you and the audience.
  • Less experienced presenters have a tendency to speed up as they talk: try to speak clearly and at a measured pace. If you feel yourself start to rush, pause and get yourself back on track.
  • Emphasise the really important points of your presentation by dropping your tone of voice at the end of statements. It’s what linguists call a ‘late dipping tone’ and sounds authoritative. A famous late dipper was Winston Churchill, which is why other politicians try to mimic him.
  • Think about how and if you will move during your presentation. Keep hand gestures smooth, try not to fidget and keep your head up so that you don't talk to the floor.
  • Don't talk to visual aids: when you feel nervous, this is very easy to do! Keep your eye contact on the audience.
  • Try to engage with your whole audience by presenting to everyone on the panel.

Record yourself practising your presentation so that you can analyse your body language and tone of voice.

Step into the spotlight... don't start until you are ready

If you're nervous, your body will scream at you to begin and get it over with. What tends to happen next is that you start when neither you nor the audience is ready. Take your time. Before you say anything, pause, take a couple of calm, deep breaths and look around the audience (if the assessment centre is virtual, you may see them on your screen). When they are settled and ready, you can begin.

Practice is essential for an effective presentation

Practising a presentation is really cringe-worthy, but you must do it.

  • Practise your presentation out loud, so that you are comfortable speaking from memory with only the need for the brief prompts on screen or on index cards.
  • Practise your presentation out loud so that you feel comfortable with the timing and speaking at a measured pace (it is a cardinal sin to miss time a presentation and run over).
  • Practise your presentation out loud so that you feel comfortable projecting your voice.

Try to anticipate the type of questions you might get from your audience and think about how you will respond to these. Do a final dress rehearsal the day before so that you are happy that everything works well together.

You might find it helpful to practise for presentations and other types of assessments.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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Assessment Center Case Studies Practice & Tips – 2024

Aptitude Written Exams

Case studies are a central part of the exercises making up most assessment centers . Employers use them to provide valuable insight into the applicants. They provide a way to assess a graduate or job-seeker’s capability and their potential performance after selection. To do this, the assessment center presents the candidate with a simulated situation that might be faced on the actual job and waits to see how the candidate will respond. The information assessors collect proves invaluable to companies as they work through the screening and hiring process with the candidates who are most likely to perform well in the job opening.

What Is a Case Study Exercise?

Case studies are simulation exercises that put a candidate into situations they might actually see while on the job. The exercises can be done as a group or individually. Which it is will depend on the employer and the assessment center. The case studies typically provide information that includes financial reports, market studies, or competition analysis and other information that may relate to any aspect of the profession. It may also provide other company reports, consultant’s reports, new product research results, and more. This makes the exercise similar in some ways to an in-tray exercise though the documents are longer for a case study.

Key Features of Case Studies

The exercise can be presented at the end either in written report format or as a presentation, depending on the preference of those running the exam. The assessors then evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyze information with a logical approach to decision making and their aptitude for tackling difficult situations. From there, they score performance.

Case study exercises often are based on a few core topics. Some of these include:

  • Finding the feasibility and profitability for the introduction of a new product or service
  • Merger, acquisition, or joint venture related managerial decisions
  • Annual report evaluation and profitability and loss analysis
  • Task prioritization and problem-solving with a given deadline

Many times, the case study’s theme or scenario provides the stage for other assessment center exercises, so paying attention to what the scenario is and the information provided about it can prove helpful in further exercises. If this is the case, the problem-solving case study is likely to show up as one of the first few exercises you do after re-taking the necessary psychometric aptitude assessments for score confirmation.

Competencies Required for Case Studies

The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are:

  • Analytical thinking and assimilation of information
  • Commercial awareness and Innovation
  • Organization
  • Decisiveness and Judgment

The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions. The assessors will look at both the decision reached and the logical justification for the recommendations. Because of this, the test is not designed to have one ‘correct’ answer. Instead, it is concerned with the approach to solving the issue as much as it is with the solution.

This is the point in the assessment and pre-hiring process where candidates should show the recruiters what they can do. Usually, the exercise lasts around forty minutes. Employers may use either fictional examples or, in some cases, even real live projects with the sensitive information replaced for fictional information.

Due to the nature of the exercise, job-seekers and graduates taking this type of assessment should possess several key skills. They must be able to interpret large quantities of data from multiple sources and in varying formats, use analytical and strategic analysis to solve problems, formulate and commit to a decision, demonstrate commercial and entrepreneurial insight on a problem, and use oral communication skills to discuss the decisions made and the reasoning behind them. Without these key abilities, case exercises may prove challenging for individuals.

How to Prepare for Case Study Exercises?

With the large amount of information presented on assessment center case studies and the many things to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start. Particularly for those participating in a graduate assessment center case studies with no prior experience with assessment centers, the case study may seem daunting.

However, it is possible to prepare with some case study practice and by reviewing assessment case study examples similar to the ones that will be given in your assessment center. These tips for preparation and practice as well the day of will help those facing a case study assessment to do so with confidence.

Case Studies: Tips for Success

Review the advice below as you begin to prepare for the assessment center:

  • If it is a group exercise , show the recruiters you can work with the team.
  • For a group exercise, determine what roles individuals in the scenario are associated with and how they may interact with your or impact the analysis and decision-making process.
  • Determine what information needs to be kept and what should be discarded as early on as possible.
  • Manage time carefully and plan your approach based on the time available to you.
  • Consider all possible solutions and analyze them carefully before choosing a decision.
  • When finished, ensure that you have a solid foundation for the proposal and a plan of action to implement for your chosen solution.
  • Make sure you communicate that foundation and the logic behind your decision.
  • When presenting as a group, actively participate but avoid dominating the conversation or situation.
  • Gather information on the organization, job profile, and any other data that could be in the case study to be prepared before assessment center day if possible.
  • If you do not need to present for a group exercise, consider nominating yourself as someone who can respond to questions.
  • Practice structuring and delivering presentations in a case study format before testing.

If you follow the advice above and put in enough time practicing and preparing to feel confident, you should be able to ace this portion of your assessment center. Remember that the solution is not the most important thing about this exercise. How you work with others and the reasoning behind your answer is. So, use the time you have wisely and do not overlook anything as you work to come to a good solution. As you do this, relax and use this as a chance to show the recruiters that you really know what you said you did during the interview stage . That is what this exam is about.

Assessment Center

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Assessment centres

Ruairi Kavanagh

Last updated: 21 Dec 2023, 10:40

How to prepare for a graduate assessment centre; examples of assessment centre exercises, tests and case studies.

Lesson

Second interviews and assessment centres allow recruiters and job applicants a more in-depth look at whether they suit each other. Assessment centres involve assembling in one place several candidates who are applying for the same position and putting them through a variety of different tests.

How employers use assessment centres

Assessment centres make it easier for candidates to showcase a range of skills and competences than they would be able to demonstrate in an interview alone. Exercises and tasks are designed to mirror those needed in the job, so they are measuring you directly against the skills you would need to do the job well. This is why some employers feel they are a fairer way to select graduates than traditional interviews.

You are not in direct competition with the other candidates – you are all being assessed against the employer’s criteria, not against each other. In fact, it’s important to show that you can work in a team and co-operate with others.

Some assessment centres will include meals and refreshments and while this acts as a pleasant social introduction to the firm, be aware that the recruiters will notice candidates' behaviour and form preliminary impressions of people.

What to expect from assessment centres

Assessment centres can last from half a day to three days. A typical one-day assessment centre would start with a welcome to the company followed by introductions and an ice-breaker. This might be followed by individual and group exercises. During lunch you might be able to mingle with current graduate employees, with interviews taking place in the afternoon.

The programme of events can incorporate some or all of the following:

  • Group exercises
  • Individual exercises
  • Panel interviews
  • Social events
  • Written exercises or case studies
  • Aptitude tests, psychometric tests or personality tests.

Assessment centre group exercises

A group of six to eight people may be given a task to do under observation by the selectors. Group exercises are designed to assess how you communicate and your ability to accommodate the needs, views and skills of others in order to achieve a goal. Listen carefully to the instructions and focus on helping the group to complete the task.

Your aim should be to make a constructive contribution. How you work together to solve the problem is usually more important than the solution.

The group is asked to deal with a scenario based on a real-life business situation, and to present its findings.

Tip: Show recruiters you can work together. They won’t be looking for the ‘right’ conclusion but the steps you took to reach it.

Get the insights and skills you need to shape your career journey with Pathways. Gain a strong grounding in the various ways you can prepare for an assessment centre, so you can give yourself the best chance of success.

How to prepare for an assessment centre

Discussion group

The group is given a topic, often a recent news story, to discuss.

Tip: Listen to other group members as well as speaking up. Prepare by reading a quality newspaper in the weeks before the assessment centre.

Leaderless task

Each member of the group is given an individual briefing document. As a group you must come up with a decision acceptable to everyone within a time limit.

Tip: No-one in the group is the designated leader so you’ll need to work together to find a solution. Recruiters will be interested in whether you’re comfortable working with differing views and able to broker a compromise.

Assessment centre individual exercises

These are designed to mirror tasks you would be doing on the job.

In-tray exercise:

You are presented with a series of letters or emails varying in degrees of importance and given about 30–60 minutes to tackle it.

They are looking for: decision making, time management, how you work under pressure.

Tips: Quickly read through everything. Identify requests needing immediate action; those you can delegate; and those you can delay. Be prepared to justify your priorities and actions to the assessors. Pace yourself; work quickly and accurately.

Case study:

You will be given a business scenario and asked to imagine they are giving advice to a client or colleague on the basis of the evidence. You may have to make a presentation explaining your findings. This may be either a group or an individual exercise. They are looking for: analysis, problem solving, business acumen.

Tip: Practise by carrying out some basic research. Find out the kind of real-life business decisions the company has to make. Read the business pages of newspapers to get a feel for current issues. See if your careers service runs workshops on preparing for case study exercises.

Presentation:

You will be asked to prepare this in advance: you will be told the subject and length of the presentation and the visual aids available (eg flipcharts, presentation software or a laptop).

They are looking for: communication ability, confidence, thinking quickly on your feet.

  • Plan the content: If you have a free choice, choose a subject you know or understand well. Break your presentation into three memorable points and give it a good structure – starting with an introduction and ending with a summary and an invitation for questions. Visual aids must be visual: don’t include too much text.
  • Think about your delivery: Less experienced presenters tend to speed up as they talk, so be aware of this and pause if necessary to get back on track. Vary your tone of your voice; minimise your movements; engage with everyone present by looking at each person from time to time.
  • Get plenty of practice: Practise out loud, so that you are comfortable speaking from memory with brief prompts on screen or on index cards. Get used to the timing and speaking at a measured pace. A final dress rehearsal the day before will help your confidence.

Assessment centre tips

  • Get as much information as you can about the tests beforehand.
  • Listen carefully; pace yourself; work quickly and accurately.
  • Be yourself – don’t act a part. If you’ve had to change your behaviour or personality radically to fit in then it could be a sign that this employer is not for you.

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Learn more about preparing for assessment centres.

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Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers ({YEAR} Guide)

Why Do Employers Use Case Studies at Assessment Centers?

What to expect from a case study exercise, how to prepare for the case study exercise in 2024, how to approach a group exercise, how to approach a presentation, case study exercises at assessment centers (2024 guide).

Updated November 21, 2023

Fi Phillips

Should you be invited to be tested at an assessment center as part of an employer's recruitment process, one of the exercises you may face is a case study .

A case study exercise presents you with a scenario similar to what you would experience in the job you have applied for.

It will generally be accompanied by documents, emails or other forms of information.

You are asked to make business decisions based on the data you have been provided with, either alone or as part of a group of candidates.

A case study enables employers to assess your skill-base and likely performance in the job, providing them with a more rounded view of the type of employee you would be and the value you would bring to the company.

Commonly used in the finance, banking, legal and business management industries, the main advantage to employers of using case study exercises is to see candidates in action, demonstrating the skills they would be expected to use at work.

The skills assessed when participating in a case study exercise will vary depending on the employer, the industry and the job applied for, but may include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Stress tolerance
  • The ability to assimilate information quickly and effectively
  • Organisational skills
  • Situational judgment
  • Commercial awareness
  • Time management
  • Team working
  • Knowledge pertinent to the industry or job, for example, marketing skills

Despite the skills that the employer is actively assessing, such as those mentioned above, success in a case study exercise relies on your ability to:

  • Interpret and analyze the information provided
  • Reach a decision
  • Use commercial awareness
  • Manage your time
  • Communicate well

Practice Case Study Exercises with JobTestPrep

There are generally two types of case study exercise that you may face as part of a selection process:

  • Subject-related case studies pertinent to the job you are applying for and the related industry
  • General case studies that assess your overall aptitude and skills

The actual scenario of the case study exercise you face will vary, but examples of typical case studies include:

  • Expanding a team or department
  • Deciding whether an acquisition or merger is advisable
  • Investigating whether to begin a new product line
  • Re-organisation of management structure
  • The creation of an advertising campaign
  • Responding to negative publicity
  • Choosing from three business proposals
  • Developing a social media presence

Prepare for Case Study Exercises with JobTestPrep

For example: You are presented with the scenario of an IT company that went through an expensive re-brand one year ago. At that time, the company moved to bigger premises in a better area, and two new teams of developers were recruited to work with two new clients. The IT company has recently lost one of those clients and is facing increasing costs as the rent is raised for their premises. The company's directors have concluded that they must make one of the following changes: Make staff redundancies and offer the chance to several employees to change to part-time hours Move to less expensive premises in a less desirable area Combine a move to a flexible working business model where employees work part of the week from home and desk-share in the office along with a physical move to smaller premises in the same area where the IT company is currently based

You are asked to advise the directors on which change would provide the greatest benefit.

Here is another example:

A multi-national environmental testing organization buys out an oil-testing laboratory. A gap test is carried out on whether: The oil-testing lab should be brought in line with the rest of the organization concerning its processes, customer interface, and testing procedures The oil-testing lab should be closed down and its clients absorbed into the rest of the organization The oil-testing lab should be allowed to continue as it is, but new processes put in place between it and the larger organization

You are asked to consider the findings of the gap test and suggest the best course of action.

Just as you would prepare before a job interview, it is always in your best interests to prepare before facing a case study exercise at an assessment center.

Step 1 . Do the Research

There is a whole range of research you can look into to prepare yourself for the case study exercise:

  • The job description and any other literature or documents forwarded to you
  • The employer's website and social media
  • Industry related news stories and developments

Any of the above should provide you with a better understanding of the job you have applied for, the industry you will work within, and the culture and values of the employer.

Step 2 . Use Practice Case Studies

Practicing case study exercises in the run-up to the assessment day is one of the best ways you can prepare for the real thing.

Unless the employer provides sample case studies on their website or as part of their recruitment pack, you will not know the exact format that the exercise will take; however, you can build familiarity with the overall process of a case study through practice.

You can find plenty of practice case study exercises online. Most of these come at a cost, but you may also be able to find free sample case studies too.

For case study resources at a cost, have a look at JobTestPrep .

For two free sample case study exercises, you might like to visit Bain & Company's website .

Scroll down to the Associate Consultant Case Library. Europa also offers an extensive and detailed sample case study .

Step 3 . Timed Practice

Once you have sourced one or more practice case studies, take the opportunity to practice to a time limit.

The case study may come with a time limit, or the employer may have already told you how long you will have to complete the real case study exercise on the day.

Alternatively, set your reasonable time limit.

Timed practice will improve your response time and explain exactly how much time you should allocate to each stage of the case study process.

Step 4 . Improve Your Reading Comprehension

One skill that is key to handle a case study exercise successfully is your reading comprehension, that is, your ability to understand written information, interpret it and describe it in your own words.

In the context of a case study, this skill will help you to assimilate the information provided to you quickly, analyze it and ultimately reach a decision.

In the run-up to your assessment day, put aside time to improve your reading comprehension by reading a wide variety of material and picking out the key points of each passage.

You might find it especially helpful to read professional journals and news articles related to the job you have applied for and the related industry.

Try to improve the speed at which you can read but still retain information too. This will prove helpful during the real case study exercise.

Step 5 . Practice Mental Math

The case study exercise may include prices, area measurements, staff numbers, salaries and other numeric values.

It is important that you can complete basic mental math calculations, such as multiplication and percentages.

Practice your mental math using puzzle books, online math resources and math problems that you create yourself.

You can find plenty of online business math resources, for example:

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham Math and Business Guide
  • Money Instructor
  • Open Textbook Library
If you need to prepare for a number of different employment tests and want to outsmart the competition, choose a Premium Membership from JobTestPrep . You will get access to three PrepPacks of your choice, from a database that covers all the major test providers and employers and tailored profession packs.

Get a Premium Package Now

How To Prepare for Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers

Top Tips for Approaching Case Study Exercises

Now that you have prepared yourself, you can further improve your chances of a successful outcome by following our top tips on approaching case study exercises on the day.

Read the Information Carefully

Read all of the information provided as part of your case study exercise to understand what is being asked of you fully.

Quickly identify the key points in the task and the overall decision you have been asked to make, for example:

  • Has the exercise provided you with a choice of outcomes you must decide between, or must you create the outcome yourself?
  • What information do you need to make your decision?
  • Are there calculations involved in the task?
  • What character are you playing in the task (for example, HR manager or business consultant) and what are that character's motivations?
  • Who is your character presenting their response to? Company directors, client or HR department?

Prioritize the Information

Prioritize the information by importance.

Which pieces of information are most pertinent to the task, and what key data do they provide?

Can any of the information be dismissed? Does any of the information contradict or sit in conflict with others?

Divide Up the Tasks and Allocate Time

You will generally be asked to come to a conclusion or advise a course of action regarding your case study exercise; however, you may have to carry out several tasks to arrive at this result.

Once you have read through the information, plan out what tasks the exercise will entail and allocate time for each one.

Do Not Be Distracted by Finding the Only 'Right' Answer

Where you are provided with several outcomes, and you must decide on one, do not assume that anyone's outcome is the only right answer to give.

It may be that any of the outcomes could be correct if you can sufficiently support your decision from the information provided.

Keep the Objective in Focus

  • What does the task ask you to do?
  • Must you choose between three business acquisitions?
  • Are you providing advice on whether or not to invest?
  • Are you putting together a plan for a staff redundancy situation?

Keep the objective of the case study exercise in mind at all times.

Support Your Decision With Evidence

The conclusion you come to may seem obvious to you, but you must be able to support your decision with evidence.

Why would it be better for the company to invest in property overstock? What is the benefit to the company of entering a new market?

It is not sufficient to know which outcome would be the best. As in the real-life business world, you must be able to support your claims.

If you are assessed as part of a group, you must arrive at a conclusion as a team and bear in mind your strengths.

For example, do you have a good eye for detail and would therefore be suited to the analytical part of the task?

Arrive at a list of tasks together and then assign the tasks to different members of the group.

Please make sure you contribute to the group discussions but do not dominate them.

Group assessments are generally used by employers who place value on leadership, teamwork and communication skills.

If you are asked to present your findings or conclusion as part of a case study exercise, bear in mind to whom the task has asked you to make that presentation.

For example, a business client or a marketing manager.

Make sure that you can fully support the reasons that you came to your conclusion.

If you are presenting as a group, make sure that each group member has their role to play in the presentation and that everyone knows why the group came to that conclusion.

Act professionally to suit the job you have applied for. Be polite, confident and well-spoken.

Case study exercises are just one of the many methods that employers use to assess job applicants, and as with any other aspect of the selection process, they require a degree of consideration and preparation.

The best way to improve your chances of a successful outcome and reduce exam tension is to research the job and the industry, practice case study exercises and improve your skills.

You might also be interested in these other Psychometric Success articles:

Assessment Centres – A Guide for 2024

Or explore the Aptitude Tests / Test Types sections.

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Assessment

How To Prepare For Your Assessment Centre? – A Helpful Guide

You’ve been invited to attend an assessment centre day or perhaps days.

Congratulations! You have reached the final stage of the recruitment process and are on the verge of securing that coveted job.

But you are nervous. Well, so are most of the other invitees because suddenly, applicants are being asked to leave their comfort zones. You will meet up with fellow applicants and competitors for the job and participate in a series of exercises that can make-or-break career prospects.

There is help at hand, though. Read on to learn how to prepare for an assessment centre.

Table of Contents

What Exercises Will I have To Do at the Assessment Centre?

Depending on the job you have applied for and the length of time you spend at the assessment centre, you can expect to do some or all of the following:

  • Group exercises
  • Case study exercise
  • In-tray exercises
  • Make a presentation

How Should I Prepare?

Do your research on the company you are being assessed for. Most companies have an idea of the type of person who is a good fit for their team. You can usually find this on their website.

Keep in mind that at the centre, assessors will be viewing your performance and general demeanour while doing the exercises. This will give them an idea of how well you will fit into the workforce and how well you are likely to perform your duties.

A reputable job test preparation company can fill you in on all that you need to know about the assessment centre and help you prepare for the exercises.

We recommend using Job Test Prep leaders in preparing applicants for their assessment centre days.

They provide specific test prep packs for assessment centre days, as well as tailored resources for many companies. Discover reliable information on the exercises and practice materials where you can hone your abilities. Practice materials are based on the real assessment day exercises and ensure that no unpleasant surprises await you on the day.

Use your test prep pack as the backbone of your preparation.

Assessment Centre Exercises

Continue reading for an outline of what the exercises involve.

Business people gather for the meeting

The group exercise will see you placed in a group of six to ten of your fellow applicants and being given details of a work-related issue that needs to be resolved. The purpose of the exercise is to judge your teamwork skills, leadership and communication skills and your ability to get to the root of a problem.

The problem you will be asked to resolve will relate to the type of job you have applied for. Make a point of doing your research on the company and any issues they might have to deal with in your chosen role before the assessment day.

Having been given details of the issue, you and your team will discuss the situation and agree on solutions to present at the end of the exercise. Assessors will be on standby to notice if people are making valuable contributions to the discussion and also to see if applicants work well in a team.

Issues to be conscious of in the group exercise:

  • Make sure you express your ideas clearly and logically.
  • Remember that listening is a vital part of good communication.
  • Avoid any temptation to override others’ suggestions. A good leader wins respect by being aware of others’ viewpoints.

What is a case study exercise?

The case study exercise assesses a whole range of skills that may be required in your ideal job. In this exercise, expect assessors to focus on your:

  • Ability to deal with large quantities of information
  • Ability to analyse complex issues
  • Ability to make decisions

You and your group will be presented with information, and you will be required to work on it and come up with conclusions. Information may be company reports or even a report on a new product. You and/or your team will be required to deliver your findings and recommendations at the end of the time spent working on the information.

This might take the form of a presentation if the exercise has been a group one or a one-on-one discussion if the exercise was an individual one.

Role-play exercises

Do not be misled! The roleplay has little to do with your acting abilities but a lot to do with your likely behaviour in the workplace. Slightly similar to a Situational Judgement Test, you will display how you would react to workplace situations but will do it by physically playing the part.

For this exercise, you can expect to be partnered with an assessor or somebody in a managerial position.

Some examples of situations you can be expected to take place in include dealing with an irate customer or an inefficient colleague. You may be the person calming the customer or the person dealing with a colleague not pulling their weight.

Assessors regarding the role play will be able to form opinions on how you deal with difficult situations and if the behaviour you exhibit is up to company standards.

As with the other exercises, a careful review of company policy will be necessary to carry out the role play to the recruiters’ satisfaction.

In-Tray Exercise

The in-tray exercise allows the assessors to evaluate your efficiency and time management skills as well as your ability to prioritise tasks.

The exercise simulates a workplace scenario and allows recruiters to decide if you have the skills required to carry out your work in an efficient and timely manner.

You will be presented with an in-tray of emails to answer, tasks to be dealt with, documents to review and required to make decisions on actions to be taken.

  • You may have to decide if a document in your tray requires your attention or if it is something you could delegate to a colleague, and if so, which colleague.
  • Can you postpone dealing with a document or should you deal with it immediately?
  • Is there a specific order in which tasks need to be done?

For an example of what this test looks like, try the following free sample in-tray exercise from Job Test Prep.

Making a presentation

A lot of assessment centres will require you to make a presentation on a topic. You may be given the topic prior to the day itself or may be presented with it at the start of the day.

The presentation is a test of your communication abilities. It will also give the recruiters an indication of how well you can organise and present information. If the topic for discussion, or brief, is presented prior to the assessment day, ensure you do your research, particularly in relation to the role you want to play within the company.

If you are presented with the brief on the actual day, you will be given a limited amount of time to scan documents for information.

Sometimes you may also be required to answer questions on your presentation.

In the presentation, assessors will be evaluating your skills at selecting the relevant information and organising it as well as looking at your verbal delivery. For somebody who is new to public speaking, the presentation can be one of the more daunting of the assessment day exercises.

To prepare for this, select topics you may have to talk about, learn to identify the most relevant information and most importantly, train yourself to organise it into a cohesive form for delivery.

Then make the presentation to friends and family and encourage them to comment on your performance. With practice, you will become more confident about your ability to make a presentation.

What Will Recruiters be Looking For on Assessment Day?

The recruiters’ primary objective with all the exercises is to find the people best suited for the position being offered. This does not mean that you have to excel at all the exercises, as your overall performance is what is being assessed.

To succeed at assessment day:

  • Arrive well-rested and with fifteen or more minutes to spare.
  • Prepare to be alert throughout the day. A late-night or consumption of alcohol prior to an assessment day is a no-no.
  • Be aware that you are being observed throughout the day, but then so is everybody else. Don’t let the ongoing scrutiny dampen your confidence or enthusiasm but at the same time, maintain a polite and friendly demeanour.
  • Some exercises will not go as you want them to. Don’t dwell on it. Instead, focus on the next exercise you have to do.
  • There will be social moments during the day. Use lunch and coffee breaks as moments to talk to your fellow competitors. But avoid the temptation of comparing yourself to others. Your own performance is your primary concern for the day.
  • You will be conscious of being under scrutiny but do not hide your personality. Remember, even recruiters have human feelings and, like all humans, do enjoy seeing some individuality.
  • Finally, keep reminding yourself you have reached this point thanks to some skill or talent you showed through the recruitment process… Otherwise, you would not be at the centre!

If you have been invited to spend a day at an assessment centre , you will find all the resources you need to prepare for it here .

Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.

Sarah Duncan

Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.

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How to Prepare for an Assessment Centre

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A resource guide to the assessment centre. This guide will help you learn how to prepare for an assessment centre. This first chapter will cover the assessment centre essentials.

Page contents:

What are assessment centres, assessment centre basics, one-day assessment centre example.

  • Virtual assessment centre

Key takeaways

Chapter 1: assessment centre essentials.

This free guide to assessment centres is an authoritative manual on how assessment centres work and what knowledge candidates should take into the assessment centre with them. Nerves and unfamiliarity are the biggest culprits of underperformance. Most candidates come out of their first assessment centre thinking "I wish I knew that before". This guide aims to dispel myths and share the experience of assessment centre experts.

Free PDF guide to Assessment Centres

Experts have compiled in-depth knowledge of Assessment Centres. Lots of useful information on what to expect at an assessment centre, and how to prepare yourself for the big day.

Assessment centres are a series of exercises commonly used by employers to test a variety of skills which are not assessable from traditional interviews. An assessment centre usually lasts a whole day but can last anything from half a day up to several days of testing and assessments.

You will normally be invited to an assessment centre only after you have passed initial screening by the employer, for example an application form and an online aptitude test. The assessment centre is usually the final hurdle in the recruitment process, and is where the employer really puts the candidate through their paces. Designing and running an assessment centre take a lot of resource and time from the employer, so they put through only short-listed candidates who they think have a real chance of being right for the job.

Going to an assessment centre? Want to know what to expect and what the assessors are looking for? This free guide has been written with the help of assessment centre designers and graduate employers. Get stuck in!

An assessment centre is not a place in itself; it is a name given to a series of exercises . The exercises can take place at the employer's offices (if they have the space and facilities) or at a testing centre run by qualified assessors, or any conference space where candidates and assessors can get together.

In the good (or bad) old days, a CV and an interview were enough to get you a job. But employers discovered that this wasn't always the most effective way of selecting the right candidate because they missed negative traits and didn't credit some positive skills. Employers have turned to using assessment centres as a second-round selection stage because interviews alone are very subjective and open to bias. The assessment centre aims to unearth the candidate's true potential to perform well in the job. This means the employer gets a well-matched employee, and the candidate gets assessed fairly on their true merits.

The reason your potential employer has invited you to attend an assessment centre is that assessment centres have a proven track record of finding the most suitable candidates for the job. Assessment centres are not going to go away any time soon, so get used to them! They will be attended by a group of other candidates (typically between 5 and 10), all of whom are being assessed. The day you attend is likely to be one of many the employer is running. It is important to remember that the assessment centre is just a way of finding candidates suitable for a role; you are not in competition with the other candidates at the assessment centre. If every candidate ticks all the right boxes, the employer will hire all of them. If none of the candidates meet the necessary standard, the employer will hire none of them.

Almost all employers are happy to provide you with feedback after the assessment centre. Sometimes the assessors also ask your opinion of the day to help them with designing future assessments.

The assessment centre will usually be run by the human resource department of the organisation to which you are applying. There might also be managers of the company, to provide technical input and more probing panel interview questions. Larger organisations might also have occupational psychologists on the review panel to provide professional insight into candidates' behaviours. For role play exercises the assessors often bring in professional actors to play the part of an awkward customer or dissatisfied client. These actors are very good at adopting a role and because they create a realistic scenario, candidates often find it easier to behave in the way they would in real life. Ultimately, the employer is using an assessment centre to simulate the kind of situations you might encounter in the job, and measure how well you deal with them.

Common components of an assessment centre:

  • Presentation by the employer
  • Group exercises (for example case studies and presentations)
  • Individual exercises (for example cognitive ability tests and psychometric tests )
  • Interview (technical or competency)
  • Role play and simulation exercises

How am I scored at an assessment centre?

Throughout the assessment centre you will be examined on a score sheet filled in by an assessor. Usually one assessor is assigned to each candidate on each exercise, and then they rotate through the day. At the end of the day the assessors discuss their opinions with each other to decide on scores. Each candidate at the assessment centre will be examined against their individual score sheet and you will not get to see your scores; the assessors often complete it when you are out of the room. The score sheet will be matched to the set of competencies the employer is looking for.

What skills are they looking for

Here is a list of the common competencies employers will be looking for:

  • Communication
  • Customer focus
  • Influencing
  • Problem solving
  • Achieving results

The original job description is a good place to look for finding out what competencies the employer is scoring you against during the assessment centre. Find out what they are and have these in the back of your mind throughout the day.

Skills employers are typically assessing at the assessment centre are: communication skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, negotiation skills and your 'fit' for the organisation. Obviously each assessment centre will be looking for a slightly different skill set depending on the job role. Don't be put off by the scoring system, it's something which you should be aware of but not afraid of.

It is essential that you have an idea of what competencies the employer is looking for before you attend the assessment centre, so you know what they are looking for. A good way to find out what values or competencies the employer is looking for is to check on their website or the original job posting. If you really want to make sure, try asking the company's HR department, although they might not tell you explicitly.

Essential Elements of Assessment Centres:

  • Predefined competencies (skills) against which you will be assessed.
  • Realistic simulation of the skills required for the role.
  • Fair and unbiased assessment. For example pooling of data from different assessors.
  • Standardised recording of behaviour, for example score sheets and video.

Research the company's competitors and how the company sits within the marketplace. What services does the company provide that others don't? Also something you should be doing before assessment centres and interviews anyway, is familiarise yourself with your CV and make sure you can talk about things it says you have done.

With your invitation to attend an assessment centre you will be given details of the day and an overview of what to expect. This will include an itinerary, joining instructions, address etc. The employer conducting the assessment centre will have put a lot of thought into the type of exercises they want to use and the exercises will probably be unique to them. The bespoke nature of assessment centres means there is no set template they follow, however below is an example of a typical one-day assessment centre.

  • 10:00 Arrive, collect name badges, coffee
  • 10:15 Introductions and presentation by the employer
  • 10:45 Verbal and numerical reasoning tests
  • 11:45 Personality questionnaire
  • 12:30 Lunch with managers and current employees
  • 13:30 Technical interview
  • 14:30 Refreshments
  • 14:45 Individual task: In-Tray exercise
  • 16:00 Group task: Case study exercise
  • 17:00 Debriefing and payment of travel expenses
  • 17:30 Depart

Whilst the informal activities such as lunch and refreshments are not directly scored, you should use these as a good opportunity to socialise with other candidates and the current employees you will likely meet. This will relax you for the afternoon's more interactive activities and the initiative will not go unnoticed by the assessors.

As you can see, the day is jam-packed. As much as your performance in each exercise, the employer wants to see how you perform under a heavy workload, as this will simulate a busy day in the real job.

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Virtual assessment centres

Virtual assessment centres are a relatively new way of evaluating job candidates using video conferencing and other online tools. They aim to simulate an in-person assessment centre, allowing employers to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job role by evaluating a range of skills and abilities whilst communicating online.

Virtual assessment centres typically involve a range of activities, such as case studies, group exercises, presentations, and individual interviews. They can be conducted in real-time or asynchronously, depending on the requirements of the employer.

How do they differ to in-person assessment centres?

Compared to in-person assessment centres, virtual assessment centres have some key differences.

  • Candidates will not be physically present in a specific location, but will instead participate from their own home or office . This means that they may need to set up a suitable environment, such as a quiet and well-lit room, with a reliable internet connection and any necessary software.
  • Virtual assessment centres may lack some of the personal interactions that candidates may experience in an in-person setting . This can include things like meeting current employees, touring the workplace, and socialising with other candidates. However, virtual assessment centres can still provide valuable opportunities to network and interact with others, particularly during group activities and online discussions.

How to prepare for a virtual assessment centre

To prepare for a virtual assessment centre, candidates should do some research on the company and the job role. They should also familiarise themselves with the technology and software that will be used during the assessment centre. Candidates should ensure they have a reliable internet connection and a suitable space where they can participate in the assessment centre without distractions.

It is also important to practice and develop relevant skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. Candidates can do this by practicing case studies, group exercises, and presentations, and seeking feedback from others.

Overall, virtual assessment centres provide a flexible and convenient way for employers to evaluate job candidates. Candidates who prepare adequately and demonstrate the relevant skills and abilities are more likely to succeed in a virtual assessment centre and progress to the next stage of the recruitment process.

An assessment centre is a group of exercises a candidate must complete to assess various skills.

Key points for candidates to keep in mind to pass assessment centres:

  • The assessment centre process typically includes multiple assessment methods such as group exercises, in-tray exercises, presentations, psychometric tests, and interviews.
  • Candidates should research the company and the role they are applying for before attending the assessment centre, as well as reviewing the skills and qualities required for the role.
  • Communication skills, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork are essential skills to demonstrate during the assessment centre.
  • Candidates should remain calm, confident and positive throughout the assessment, and avoid being too competitive or aggressive.
  • Practicing assessment centre exercises can help candidates prepare for the assessment and improve their performance on the day.
  • During group exercises, candidates should actively listen, communicate effectively, and balance being assertive and collaborative.

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Virtual Assessments

On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know about our Virtual Assessment Centre.

We’ve designed our Virtual Assessments to help us find out as much as we can about you, your skills and abilities, and your experience. But there’s a lot to know (and prepare) before the day to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

So, we asked some of our team to share some tips and advice to help you make the most of the experience. From getting prepared, to understanding what we’re looking for, to being your best in presentations, role plays and interviews.

We asked some of our team to share their tips and advice to help you make the most of the experience, and you can hear what they had to say here…

About the virtual assessment centre, how to prepare, group exercise, case study presentation, and you can find out more about what to expect after the virtual assessment below....

What happens next?

We’ll be in touch soon after your Assessment Centre to give you detailed feedback on your performance. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the day, and about your assessment.

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Your interview will be on a 1-1 basis via a Google Meet call. We’ll ask you questions about why you think a Morrisons Graduate or Degree Apprenticeship is right for you, and we’ll talk about your background and other experiences, both in and out of work.

Do your homework

Before the day, think about why you’re passionate about joining Morrisons. We want you to demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of our ways of working and what we stand for as a business. Take a look at the rest of our website, follow our social media feeds, and visit our stores. You should be aiming to show your interviewer that you’re serious about being part of our business.

Make a good first impression

Virtual interviews bring their own challenges, but as with face to face interviews, it’s important to make a good impression in those first few seconds. So, be on time, smile confidently, introduce yourself clearly, and try to stay relaxed.

Use the STAR technique

Using the STAR method (Situation/Task/Action/Results) to answer your interview questions is a great idea. It will help you tell an easy-to-follow and factual story with each answer, that begins with a clear purpose and ends with a well defined resolution. Don’t forget that you’re here to demonstrate why you’re the best choice for the role.

Bring lots of examples

We’ll ask you questions based on the things you’ve done in the past, so it’s a good idea to think about lots of examples of previous successful experiences in education or in work. As before, you’re here to show us why we should choose you, so your examples should be geared towards this and you should tailor them to fit the question.

More tips for making your interview a success…

One of the most successful interview techniques is to build rapport with your interviewer - and this even works with virtual interviews. So, think about your body language - use your hands, but don’t overdo it, avoid fiddling with jewellery, don’t slouch in your chair, and maintain eye contact. Remember to try to control your nerves too - staying calm will help you answer questions confidently. And listen carefully but don’t forget that you can pause to think before answering, and even come back to questions later if you need to.

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Before your role play exercise, we’ll send you a brief that contains all the information you’ll need to be able to take part effectively. You’ll then have a short time to prepare, before joining the role play situation via a Google Meet call.

Read the brief carefully

Your role play exercise will replicate a real-life situation at Morrisons, and you should take the time to fully understand the brief without rushing. Above all, you should know what role we’ll expect you to play, along with the roles that others are playing, too.

Prepare some open questions

Remember that most role play exercises don’t give everything away in the brief, and some details are often left out on purpose to give the exercise space to develop, and to encourage you to think on your feet. So, try to uncover information that isn’t included in the brief by asking open questions (that don’t have a yes or no answer). For example, you could start your questions with: “Tell me about…”, or “Can you expand on…”, or “Could you talk to me about…”.

Have a structure in mind… but be flexible

We’ll expect you to have a clear plan, but you should also be ready to let the exercise unfold and flow naturally - just like a real conversation. This is often the sign of a successful role play exercise. So, don’t be too rigid in how you approach it as things could change at a moment’s notice. And remember we’re here to find out how you react to unexpected circumstances, so your assessor could drop a curveball into the exercise at any time.

Don’t overdo your notes

Making notes is important and can help you a lot, but don’t forget that too many notes can have the opposite effect and be confusing. A good rule of thumb is to have just one piece of paper for your notes, and you should also organise your notes into bullet points for easy reference.

More tips for making your role play a success…

You’ll only have a short time to prepare, so try to do this as efficiently as possible. We’re looking for an ability to stay relaxed during the exercise and we’ll expect you to be confident and natural throughout. And the last thing to bear in mind is that the assessment will begin as soon as you enter the exercise!

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Case study presentation

One of your virtual sessions will be a case study presentation. We’ll share some information and data with you and give you time to review and analyse before asking you to prepare a short presentation on your findings. 

You’ll join a Google Meet call along with an assessor for your case study presentation, and we’ll want to hear about why you made your choices and the data you used to make them. We’ll also ask questions about your approach and rationale, too.

Think about structure

Before your case study presentation, there’ll be a planning stage which will give you the opportunity to think about the structure of your presentation. What should you consider? Should you talk about financing, or regulations, or how to engage employees or other stakeholders? What about marketing? Or customer needs? The best place to start is to put some rough headings together, and the rest should flow from there.

Plan your presentation well

Your case study presentation will be a 1-1 discussion with an assessor, but you will have time to prepare. Remember, there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to planning your exercise. What’s most important is that you decide on your stance or position, before developing your presentation and use powerful supporting evidence around it.

Demonstrate a strong commercial awareness

As you give your case study presentation, we’ll be trying to find out how well you understand how our markets impact us, and what our key aspirations are in those markets. That means knowing what’s going on right now in food retail, and how that has driven the choices you’ve made while planning your presentation.

Be confident

Try to keep you poise during your presentation - we know it’s a tough challenge to complete, and we don’t expect you to be right 100% of the time. One way to do this is to communicate clearly, and it’s a good idea to spend time on your introduction and ending so you can start and finish strongly. And remember to keep smiling as this goes a long way towards building rapport with your assessor.

More tips for making your case study presentation a success…

Don’t panic if you think there’s too much to read in terms of supporting materials - it’s better to have a good overview of everything, rather than an in-depth understanding of part of it. The most important thing is to make sure you understand what you need to do to complete the task itself - and if you need to pause to think about an answer, that’s ok. And as always, try to enjoy the experience - successful candidates often tell us that they thought these exercises were fun.

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During the day, you’ll take part in a group exercise. We use these to make sure you’re able to work effectively as part of a team and you’ll take part with 4-6 other candidates. 

Before it begins, we’ll share a brief with you and you’ll have time on your own to prepare. When we’re ready to start, you’ll join a Google Meet call with your assessor and other candidates, and then it will be up to you to make an impact.

We want to see effective communication skills

During the day, you’ll take part in a group exercise, and we’ll be looking for an ability to listen to everyone’s opinion and respond to what they have to say. We’ll also expect you to be able to share your ideas clearly and confidently too, and give everyone else the chance to have their say without dominating the discussion.

Show us you have an ability to spot great ideas… and build on them

Your group exercise will give you the opportunity to contribute your own ideas while building on others’, and we want to see and hear you using positive language to promote them. It’s all about thinking outside of the box and suggesting new and innovative ideas. And you’ll also need to take a democratic approach to making decisions on which ideas are the best, too.

We’re looking for a commitment to being part of our team

You should be prepared to work as part of a team during the exercise, and that means being able to engage with and talk to everyone in your group. Remember to ask everyone for opinions, encourage others to take part, and make sure everyone is able to take a turn in getting their points across.

We want to know if you have a good understanding of the brief

You should think about how you’ll demonstrate that you understand what we need - we may ask you to summarise your understanding before we get started. So, don’t be afraid to listen to what others think and ask questions if you need to - it’s important that everyone’s on the same page.

We want you to be able to keep everyone on track

Remember, you’ll be working as part of a team, so we’ll be looking to you to stay positive and help keep everyone moving. Motivational language will make a big impact here, so try saying things like “well done everyone”, “that was brilliant”, and “we’re nearly there… let’s get this finished”. It’s also partly about keeping an eye on time effectively too, and we might even ask you to be the person who manages timekeeping for the whole session - so be ready for that.

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Getting prepared

Throughout the day, you’ll complete a range of virtual exercises including a group exercise, a case study presentation, a formal interview and a role play exercise (depending on the scheme). And, you’ll have the chance to meet with lots of different people from across our business.

You can expect a busy day, which means you’ll have a lot to prepare. You’ll be able to do much of your preparation before the day, but there will also be opportunities to prepare for individual exercises before they begin.

The following videos can help you make sure you’re ready for the day.

Know what will happen - and when

No two Assessment Centres are the same, so we’ll be in touch before yours begins to make sure you’re up to speed with what will happen on the day.

Assessment Centres on different days often have different start times, but we’ll send you a Google Meet invite for each session you need to attend. There’ll also be an introduction at the beginning of the day so you know what to expect and what you’ll need.

Find the right space

It’s important to find a quiet space for all of your sessions, and you should make sure the wifi signal is strong there, too. We recommend somewhere quiet with no distractions - especially behind you - as these could distract you and your assessor.

Make sure you have everything you need

We’ll be in touch to let you know what you’ll need for the day, and you should make sure you have everything we suggest close to hand. The kind of things that might be useful include a pen, paper, calculator, and some water or something else to drink.

Dress to impress

Even though this is a virtual assessment, it’s still important to make a good first impression. So, treat it like a face-to-face interview, and think about what you’d wear to one of those - a smart top or shirt is essential.

More tips for being prepared…

We recommend clicking on your invite links before your sessions to make sure they work, and double checking that both the microphone and camera on your computer are ok. You should also think about ways to keep track of time and maybe even set an alarm to let you know when time us up while you’re preparing for your assessment exercises.

And finally, remember to relax and enjoy the experience as much as you can - working at Morrisons is fun, and we want your assessment to be the same.

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About the Assessment Centre

We believe our Graduates are our future leaders, so we’ve designed our Virtual Assessments to help us find out as much as we can about you, your skills and abilities, and your experience.

On the day, you can expect to take part in a group exercise, a case study presentation, a formal interview and a role play exercise (depending on the scheme). But we’ll give you a call before your assessment to go through the details and make sure you have all the information you need about what will happen - and when.

We hold all our virtual assessments via Google Meet and we’ll send you an invite for each separate session. And our assessors could be Senior Managers, members of our Leadership Team, or a combination of both.

Click through to check out our videos now to find out what you need to do to get prepared, and to discover what to expect during each session…

assessment centre case study presentation

How to prepare for an Investment Banking Assessment Centre

assessment centre case study presentation

For all those people with assessment centres coming up, this post is for you.

I’ll be covering the following:

  • What you can expect and how to map out your own preparation
  • How to tackle case studies
  • How to approach presentations
  • Dealing with ‘stress interviews’
  • Tips for group discussions
  • Brushing up on your knowledge of the company to avoid getting caught out
  • Some bonus tips on the benefits of relaxing before an interview, and keeping things in balance when reflecting.

Also, I have now created a LinkedIn page for InternGamePlan so feel free to give that a follow.

Introduction

Assessment Centres are the final hurdle before receiving an internship offer and as well as being an extension to the first interview rounds, there are other components to prepare for, such as case studies, presentations and group discussions.

By the way, this is the first requested post of the site and it would be great to hear your own requests and/or feedback on the site using this form .

What to expect and mapping out prep

I’ll be focusing on the final four components below, and have linked previous posts sharing tips on the other components.

You’ll need to distribute your time between:

Interview question components

  • Introductory/motivational questions
  • Behavioural
  • Commercial awareness (including deal)
  • Brain-teasers (including market sizing)
  • Curveball questions

AC-specific components

  • Case study skills preparation
  • Presentation Skills
  • Group discussions preparation
  • Digging deeper into knowledge about the firm

Sometimes firms can add psychometric tests whether numerical, verbal or situational, but this is less common as these are usually covered earlier on. Also, for graduate schemes, Excel modelling is a more common hurdle than just having a presentation, but these are far less common for internship applications.

How should you split your time between these components?

More time should be spent on firm-specific components although the first assessment centre will naturally require more investment into the general components.

As well as the components listed above, reaching out to others in the year above that have previously done the assessment centre is a brilliant way to gauge an overview of what you can expect and know what to prioritise since this will vary from firm to firm. As always, practising with another person and carrying out mock interviews (best with people going through the same process) is a great technique to harness.

As a final note, since many assessment centres are resuming to an in-person structure, never be late. You need to have an enormous margin of safety with timing. You’re either on time or late. Waiting in the nearest Pret two hours before your assessment centre sets you up to be on time.

If you’re someone that usually likes to be on the dot with timing, like me, you need to go against your tendencies and book a train early enough so that even if that train fails, there are two other trains you could take.

Case studies

Before going into the common forms case studies can take, the key is to follow a consistent, clear structure (if you’ve read the Pyramid Principle, you know that the book is centred around structure and more specifically, a top-down form of communication). Here is a useful structure that is similar to the deal cookie-cutter method, but more detailed:

  • Firstly, state your introduction alongside your recommendation – make this super clear from the start.
  • Secondly , form three points or paragraphs (if written) explaining your three reasons for your recommendation. Include evidence and statistics from the case study materials and a lot of the analysis will be comparative i.e. why the alternative options were not chosen.
  • Finally, state your conclusion and reinforce the recommendation – now including some of the key themes of the three reasons (don’t just repeat the introduction).

Different types of case studies

The first categorisation is whether the case study is a take-home exercise you do before the assessment centre or an on-the-spot case study, but the skills massively overlap and having more time can be a great liability, especially considering you’ll be applying to various other places and balancing university work at the same time.

The second categorisation is what type of question is asked I think most case studies fall under the following three which all centre around you making a judgement on a company being advised:

[1] A company looking to obtain more funds.

As with all these questions, you’ll have a company profile explaining the characteristics of the firm and their general financial health plus how much they’re looking to raise.

You’re then likely to be given a variety of debt and equity options and must decide which one is the best. The debt financing options might be broken down into a bank loan, private placement, or public bond as three examples. There is a useful part in the basic LBO section of the 400 questions guide that I’ve mentioned previously, which talks about the difference between high yield and bank debt. Although not essential, understanding such differences can be useful context.

[2] A company looking to acquire another company.

Usually, you’ll be given three options which you need to select from. A lot of the analysis will be laying out the characteristics you’re judging against and explaining why one firm prevails over all the rest. This exercise mimics the later stages of acquisition research, where a team may have whittled down the list to the final five targets that have shown interest.

[3] A company looking at options for growth.

Although similar to the previous two questions, the growth question would probably be based on broader strategies such as whether the company should raise funds to fund an expansion abroad (which could involve the first type of question), or whether the company should acquire another company (may still involve raising funds).

Use the first few minutes to take a 30k ft view to lay a strong foundation for answering the question.

In my opinion, it’s all about the 30k ft view: prioritising and planning your time has a much bigger impact than merely pouring over the granularities of the details they give you. The first five minutes are critical for marshalling your resources, taking stock of the task and digesting the titles, subheadings, reading the question twice and taking broad strokes at tackling the exercise.

Build a competitive advantage for yourself through reading the Pyramid Principle & 80/20 rule.

Another critical hack is harnessing clear communication skills and there’s no better book for this than the Pyramid Principle, written by the first female MBA professional hire Mckinsey made back in 1963. I’ll be reviewing the Pyramid Principle in a future post since I believe it to be one of the most powerful books on improving a skill at the heart of most jobs: communication.

Another key book for tackling such time-pressured exercises is the 80/20 principle by Richard Koch, who started at the Boston Consulting Group and went on to create L.E.K Consulting in 1983. There may be distracting elements in the case study, and not all information will be of equal importance, so drilling into your head that 20% of what you do leads to 80% of the results should train your mind to prevent you from getting stuck in the weeds and help you search for the most pertinent points.

When forming your final points of analysis, it goes without saying that you should talk slowly and choose your points judiciously. Do not overload the interviewer with the case study exercise and remember that the interviewer will need to take thorough notes on this part of the interview, so talking too fast makes their lives difficult.

Presentations

As with case studies, I plan on doing a separate post on this, but the key points outlined here should be enough for an assessment centre – shortcuts and other hacks to creating presentations become more useful when preparing for the internship itself.

Presentations can come in different forms and in my opinion, are a more useful exercise for assessment centres since they strongly emulate what you’ll be doing on the role.

Here are some examples of how presentations can come up:

  • Company profile/investment pitch
  • Evaluating an acquisition opportunity for a company
  • Valuing a company
  • Your opinion on a large M&A deal in the news
  • Opinion on where the market is heading in the future
  • Analysis of the company you’re interviewing at

[1] Quadrant structure

They may give you the option to choose from various structures for example if you’re producing a company investment profile. The best way to condense a lot of information in investment banking is through using the quadrant structure – not used for everything, but used very frequently. Many people looking at the slide will argue that there is too much information condensed and that presentations should be more talking and less text, but having slightly more detail on slides is common in the industry.

[2] Icons on your slide

Noun Project is one of the best sources for icons, which can provide a professional, visually captivating touch to your presentation and only takes several minutes to paste in.

Although you’ll only have about an hour for on-the-spot presentations, including a graph can really set you apart. That may mean a stock chart for an investor profile if the company is public, or using a table to display all the company’s financials.

[4] Top-down communication

As outlined in the Pyramid Principle, it is far more effective to lay out your key points and then inductively explain them below. This applies to larger presentations where you see the main title or subtitle explaining the key takeaway of the presentation and then each box or section explaining that overall point.

Common problems

[1] Not enough structure. Outlining the structure before you even think about fleshing out each slide or the 1-slide summary is one of the most important steps to take in preventing this issue.

[2] Overcomplicating things – not sticking to simple arguments. For longer, take-home exercises, over-complicating it and spending hours upon hours making the presentation is a sure way to fall victim to the 80/20 principle, rather than harnessing the rule to your advantage. You’ll have too much to say in the interview and risk boring the interviewers with details that weren’t necessary otherwise.

[3] Not giving a definitive response to the overall question if the presentation is evaluating a potential acquisition target, or on whether an investor should invest.

As a final tip, for larger presentations where you’re more likely to be put on the spot, say you don’t know if you don’t know. NO WAFFLE. Say I think the answer is xyz, but I am not certain, so I’ll research the answer and get back to you.

Not getting thrown off by stress interviews

Stress interviews are something you should be aware of and are at risk of getting, although not a formal category such as when the bank tells you ‘this is a technical interview’. They are where the person on the other side of the table disagrees with everything you say and tries to reduce you to lacking confidence and questioning your own knowledge. Such interviews are aimed at mimicking a difficult client and how you would handle such a situation; they can get more intense, for example, I’ve heard stories of the interviewer getting a paper and writing failed next to the candidate’s name, picking up the phone, or ripping up paper in front of them – all testing whether you can keep your cool in the face of a difficult, confusing situation.

Personally, I think it illogical for a firm to give such harsh interviews considering it is a two-way process and they should be convincing the interviewee this place is worth working for, but either way, they do happen and will continue to happen, so here are some tips:

  • Most people don’t realise when they get one so be aware.
  • They are not just about staying nice and polite, but also keeping your head screwed on, keeping confident in your own abilities and not rushing.
  • Although stress interviews come on a spectrum, with some far less severe and some very severe, speaking too fast is a tendency I always found myself steering towards and this is a serious weakness: remember that speaking too fast makes it seem like you’re not worth the interviewer’s time and if you act like that, they’ll get that impression.

To finish off your preparation, here is an overview of tips for tackling group discussions, strengthening your knowledge of the company, as well as bonus tips such as the paradox of relaxing before an assessment centre and being balanced in how you reflect afterwards.

Group Discussions

Although group discussions are something you can prepare in an interview study group if you have one, I believe the key is drilling in your head the principles to follow since the many variables make it harder to prepare for such an exercise than you would for a 1-on-1 interview.

Key principles:

  • Timekeeping is key so be the timekeeper if no one else jumps in
  • Walk the tightrope of not being too loud/dominating the discussion and not being too quiet
  • Be thoughtful – don’t feel rushed to speak first unless you have something valuable to say
  • Include others that are being quiet – the dominating people are probably keeping them quiet
  • Build on what others say, as this is not a solo game

Knowledge about the Company

You may have opted to create a firm profile before submitting your application or digging deep into what differentiates the company, especially if this is a large bank with a large number of pages on their website and an annual report for you to digest.

However, you should prepare to be grilled a bit further in the assessment centre. I have been asked in the past what the market capitalisation of the bank is, how many different teams and sector specialisms there are, as well as the firm values. So be sure to cover the ground with the following stats (although not limited to this):

  • Share price
  • Firm values (check for recently added ones)
  • Names of the different sector teams/specialisms at the bank – this is more relevant for boutiques, especially ones with a stronger industry focus
  • Name of founder, CEO and head of Investment Banking if applicable
  • Headquarters
  • Revenue and EBITDA if a public bank

The paradox of relaxation

If you’ve signed up the InternGamePlan newsletter and you’ve read through this whole post, I’m fairly confident you’re the type of person that doesn’t go to an assessment centre underprepared, so perhaps even more important than any singular component of the advice above is what you do that 12 or 24hours before the AC. The answer of what you do in that time is don’t burnout, relax, and drill in the core principles that will prevent you from tripping up on the simple, yet consequential things.

A useful exercise in any pursuit is to ask yourself “How do I completely mess this up”. The way to mess up your prep before the assessment centre is to think “I’m going to try and work like an investment banker and grind as hard as I can up to an hour before”. No, you’re playing a different game to the role, you’re trying to secure a role. I’m not just talking about having a good rest but treating yourself a bit. Of course you should prepare diligently and lay out the final components you need to drill in, but equally important you need to recharge your batteries to the full and be yourself. To be yourself means to loosen your shoulders, not to tense up and get anxious, which over-preparing can risk.

Burnout is likely to hit you, especially when you’re balancing university tests and application season, but you don’t want to irrationally induce burnout before an assessment. There will be many people that disagree with my thinking here, but I am confident it will do more benefit than harm because as I said, the people reading this far will not be those that have underprepared, they will be those that err on the side of caution and most likely over-prepare – a trap I would commonly fall into.

Keeping things in balance when reflecting

As a final note, reflect. After that AC, write down as many questions as you can remember, not just to help others in the future, but also to prepare for your next AC, because much worse than making a serious error is making it twice.

But in that reflection, keep things in balance. I learned this the hard way. In one interview, maybe you thought you weren’t conversational enough and needed to loosen up, only to find that in the next AC you loosened up too much. Loosening up too much and being too conversational has its own dangers, such as not giving the interviewer a chance to get onto the tick-box technical questions because there’s a 25-minute time limit to the interview.

Unfortunately for many of us, interviews and assessment centres aren’t the science we want them to be – they’re also an art.

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CMS Assessment Centre

  • Thread starter MZ
  • Start date Jan 15, 2021

Esteemed Member

  • Jan 15, 2021

Hey everyone! I've had a lot of messages asking about the CMS assessment centre over the past month so I figured I'd make a thread and put all the information in one place so everyone can have access to it since more AC invites seem to be going out at the moment. For reference, I had my AC in mid-December (I was fast-tracked after their First Steps programme) and got the vac scheme offer about a day later. The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise: For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions. All the information you need is in the document they give you (you don't need any prior knowledge), so you just need to read/skim through it all carefully and make sure you pick up on all the key points (most of these will be quite obvious in the document so don't worry too much about missing anything major). My advice is just to make sure you leave enough time to structure your presentation in a clear and concise manner so you can be sure that you're answering all parts of the question (and so you don't end up rambling or jumping from one point to another during your presentation). One way you could do this is to have a cutoff point for yourself to finish reading so you don't run out of time trying to analyse every single sentence (which is probably what I would have done). After the case study, I had a partner interview where I presented my case study findings in the first 10 minutes, then the partner asked me some questions about my presentation. For this stage, my advice is just to make sure that if you mention something in your presentation, you know enough about it to answer any follow-up questions about it. For example, if you briefly mention Brexit, be prepared to answer any question about other impacts it may have or what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit in this case study (obviously the no-deal part doesn't apply anymore, but you get the point). The questions didn't seem designed to trip me up and seemed more geared towards giving me an opportunity to expand on some of my earlier points and show my knowledge. The rest of the interview was mostly competency questions (I didn't get any why CMS questions but can't speak for other people's interviews) and one or two basic situational judgment questions. The interview was quite relaxed and flowed more like a natural conversation, so I wasn't asked any difficult follow-up questions or specific commercial questions at any point. For the group exercise, your group is given a task/question at the beginning of the exercise and then you have 30 minutes to prepare a 10-minute presentation with your group answering that question. The task itself was quite simple and didn't require much prior knowledge, since the point of the exercise is mainly to see how you work with others rather than to test your knowledge. This part of the AC was pretty straightforward, my only advice (even though it's super basic) is to just remember that the assessors are in the breakout room with you to watch how you interact with others, so make sure you're being a positive influence and encouraging others throughout the exercise, while still contributing some of your own ideas/thoughts. I'd also say keep an eye on the time because it can be very easy to get carried away with your discussion and not leave enough time to prepare your parts for the presentation. That's pretty much it! This was my first assessment centre so I was very nervous and intimidated going into it, but it went by really quickly and I actually ended up enjoying it, so try not to stress over it too much (although I know that's easier said than done)! I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions!  

Simba281

Star Member

Thank you so much for this!!  

MZ said: Hey everyone! I've had a lot of messages asking about the CMS assessment centre over the past month so I figured I'd make a thread and put all the information in one place so everyone can have access to it since more AC invites seem to be going out at the moment. For reference, I had my AC in mid-December (I was fast-tracked after their First Steps programme) and got the vac scheme offer about a day later. The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise: For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions. All the information you need is in the document they give you (you don't need any prior knowledge), so you just need to read/skim through it all carefully and make sure you pick up on all the key points (most of these will be quite obvious in the document so don't worry too much about missing anything major). My advice is just to make sure you leave enough time to structure your presentation in a clear and concise manner so you can be sure that you're answering all parts of the question (and so you don't end up rambling or jumping from one point to another during your presentation). One way you could do this is to have a cutoff point for yourself to finish reading so you don't run out of time trying to analyse every single sentence (which is probably what I would have done). After the case study, I had a partner interview where I presented my case study findings in the first 10 minutes, then the partner asked me some questions about my presentation. For this stage, my advice is just to make sure that if you mention something in your presentation, you know enough about it to answer any follow-up questions about it. For example, if you briefly mention Brexit, be prepared to answer any question about other impacts it may have or what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit in this case study (obviously the no-deal part doesn't apply anymore, but you get the point). The questions didn't seem designed to trip me up and seemed more geared towards giving me an opportunity to expand on some of my earlier points and show my knowledge. The rest of the interview was mostly competency questions (I didn't get any why CMS questions but can't speak for other people's interviews) and one or two basic situational judgment questions. The interview was quite relaxed and flowed more like a natural conversation, so I wasn't asked any difficult follow-up questions or specific commercial questions at any point. For the group exercise, your group is given a task/question at the beginning of the exercise and then you have 30 minutes to prepare a 10-minute presentation with your group answering that question. The task itself was quite simple and didn't require much prior knowledge, since the point of the exercise is mainly to see how you work with others rather than to test your knowledge. This part of the AC was pretty straightforward, my only advice (even though it's super basic) is to just remember that the assessors are in the breakout room with you to watch how you interact with others, so make sure you're being a positive influence and encouraging others throughout the exercise, while still contributing some of your own ideas/thoughts. I'd also say keep an eye on the time because it can be very easy to get carried away with your discussion and not leave enough time to prepare your parts for the presentation. That's pretty much it! This was my first assessment centre so I was very nervous and intimidated going into it, but it went by really quickly and I actually ended up enjoying it, so try not to stress over it too much (although I know that's easier said than done)! I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions! Click to expand...
  • Jan 16, 2021
rianna2810 said: Thank you so much for this!! Click to expand...
Jade C said: I also attended an AC in December after being fast-tracked through First Steps and happy to answer any questions that people have- I received a VS offer Just thought I'd share some of my experience too! I defintely agree with the point to make sure you know the reason behind why you mention something like MZ's example of Brexit. I mentioned an issue that would be flagged/practice area that would be involved and the partner interviewing me then confirmed he was a partner in that area and wanted to know more about why I thought that. Luckily he was impressed enough with my answer I genuinely found the interview so much better than I thought. The partners who interviewed me were both lovely, they really put me at ease and were super friendly and engaging! I'd also recommend that you have a couple questions prepared that you may have for them. The case study was difficult virtually as you can't highlight or anything on the document but I found that bullet points and sub-headings were the best way I could note down the information I needed to form my presentation! I had a slight panic when we received a 5 minute time warning and noting bullet points of what I wanted to talk about really helped me get everything down that I needed on time! Content wise I found it much better than anticipated and the issues did stand out. I can also confirm that I didn't have any 'why CMS' or commercial questions but the partners did say they were choosing questions from a cheat sheet so you just never know- although they did specify it was a competency interview, but I just like to try and be prepared for anything that might crop up! I found the group task the hardest as with it being online it was hard not to try and speak over each other or get social ques from people, tech delays etc. I agree with MZ that keeping a track of time is super important as it was really easy to get carried away! I also managed to use some background commercial knowledge for this part of the AC to justify why I thought certain things that were relevant to the task! However, I would say that when bringing in other knowledge, make sure that it is relevant to the task you have been set and what they have asked of you. Good luck everybody Click to expand...

Legendary Member

  • Jan 17, 2021

Thanks MZ and Jade C! Can I ask how did you present your presentation in the individual interview? Did you just provide a overview of the case and main issues to the interviewer and did you have to provide a written response?  

Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller

Thanks for this advice MZ and Jade C, super helpful! I was wondering if you had any tips on how to prepare for the case study? (its my first one) Congrats on getting the VS!  

  • Jan 18, 2021
Lisa Lowe said: Thanks MZ and Jade C! Can I ask how did you present your presentation in the individual interview? Did you just provide a overview of the case and main issues to the interviewer and did you have to provide a written response? Click to expand...
Simrankm said: Thanks for this advice MZ and Jade C, super helpful! I was wondering if you had any tips on how to prepare for the case study? (its my first one) Congrats on getting the VS! Click to expand...

Distinguished Member

Thank you so much! This advice is brilliant and so clear to follow. Thank you for sharing!  

s10 said: Thank you so much! This advice is brilliant and so clear to follow. Thank you for sharing! Click to expand...
  • Jan 21, 2021

Just out of curiosity, does the AC solely consist of candidates applying to the same office as you?  

SBrin said: Just out of curiosity, does the AC solely consist of candidates applying to the same office as you? Click to expand...
Jade C said: My AC had a variety of applicants who had applied to different offices- although this was a fast-tracked AC from the First Steps Scheme and all the offices were Scottish so I couldn't say for sure if general AC's differ! Good luck Click to expand...

Does anyone know what percent of Academy participants secure a TC with CMS?  

Lisa Lowe said: Does anyone know what percent of Academy participants secure a TC with CMS? Click to expand...
castrooo said: At one of the CMS events I attended grad rec said 90% I do wonder if there is an assessment during the academy, though! Click to expand...
  • Jan 22, 2021
Lisa Lowe said: I was thinking that! What more is there to assess after written app, critical thinking test, video interview, partner interview, case study, group exercise and a three week placement?! 🤪 Click to expand...
  • Jan 23, 2021
MZ said: Thank you!! I'm really glad I could help! Click to expand...
s10 said: I must say thank you again! I got the Academy!! Found this thread incredibly helpful in preparing Click to expand...

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IMAGES

  1. Assessment Center Case Study : A Detailed Guide

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  5. Merger Model: Assessment Centre Case Study

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VIDEO

  1. CASE STUDY_PRESENTATION_GROUP 16_FRI_FEB2023

  2. Assessment Planning Presentation

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  5. Enhancing Professional Competencies: Needs Assessment, Evaluation, Research (Episode 4)

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COMMENTS

  1. Giving An Assessment Centre Presentation

    This Free Success Guide Is Split Into 3 Parts. Part 1: Create (Planning and building your presentation.) Part 2: Display (How to connect a projector, iPad etc.) Part 3: Deliver (Expert tips for actually presenting your presentation.) Take Presentation Practice Test Now.

  2. Assessment Centre Guide: Case Study Exercise

    Case study exercises are a popular tool used by employers to evaluate candidates' problem-solving skills, analytical thinking, and decision-making abilities. These exercises can be in the form of a written report, a presentation, or a group discussion, and typically involve a hypothetical business problem that requires a solution.

  3. Assessment Center Case Study : A Detailed Guide

    A case study assessment is a popular tool used in assessment centres for evaluating candidates by presenting them with complex and previously unknown scenarios.After analyzing the information and identifying the most relevant parts, candidates answer questions that provide the employer with insights regarding important aspects of the candidate's knowledge, cognitive abilities, and personal ...

  4. How To Succeed At The Assessment Centre Case Study (2024)

    Tips for performing well in case study exercises. 1. Process all the information. Take time to fully understand the scenario and the objectives of the exercise, identify relevant information and highlight key points for analysis, or discussion if working as part of a team. This will help structure your approach in a logical manner.

  5. Assessment Centre Case Studies Practice & Tips

    The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are: Analytical thinking and assimilation of information. Commercial awareness and Innovation. Organization. Decisiveness and Judgment. The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions.

  6. Assessment Centre Guide: Presentation Exercises

    A presentation exercise at an assessment centre is a task that involves a candidate giving a formal presentation to a group of assessors on a given topic. The candidate is usually provided with a brief beforehand and given a set amount of time to prepare their presentation. The presentation may be in the form of a PowerPoint or other visual ...

  7. Assessment Centre Case Study

    Assessment Centre Case Study - An Introduction by JobTestPrep. Aug 24, 2013 •. 17 likes • 83,618 views. JobTestPrep JobTestPrep. Follow. Business Technology. All the information you need about assessment centre case studies and analysis exercises, as they appear at employers' assessments. Including tips and examples from real case studies!

  8. Coping with case studies for graduate jobs

    Example assessment centre case study exercise 2. This is a similar example of a case study used for commercial and marketing graduate programmes. In this case, the groups are given a pack with details of the product range, sales figures, marketing campaigns and news clippings. The basic problem in this type of scenario is that a product range ...

  9. Case Study Exercise (Free Practice)

    Case study exercises are proficient predictors of role performance as they will resemble the work being done on the job. Therefore, case study exercises typically tilt highly on an assessment centre rating for candidates. Likewise, if a presentation exercise is required after the case study, based on details brought up during the case study ...

  10. How to Prepare for a Law Firm Assessment Centre

    One of the most challenging assessments that candidates face at assessment centres is the case study/presentation exercise. This assessment is a test of your comprehension skills, commercial awareness and your application of technical knowledge. It differs to group exercises because it's usually 1-1, rather than alongside other candidates.

  11. Investment Banking Assessment Centers: Full Guide

    IB Assessment Centers, Part 4: Presentations, Case Studies, and Group Exercises. If you've already done well enough to make it to the AC, you can probably handle everything above with ease - but the case studies are a different story. The two main variants here are solo exercises and group exercises.

  12. Deliver a presentation that's worthy of a graduate job

    Give your presentation a beginning, middle and an end. At the beginning, welcome your audience and set the scene: let your audience know what you will cover. If you have five-minutes your middle section will take about three of them. That's enough for two or three main points. Don't try to cram in too much detail: a few points, well made, is ...

  13. Assessment Center Case Studies Practice & Tips

    The key competencies that case study exercises usually assess are: Analytical thinking and assimilation of information. Commercial awareness and Innovation. Organization. Decisiveness and Judgment. The goal of the exercise is to review and analyze the given information to come up with solid business decisions.

  14. Assessment centres what to expect and how to prepare

    Plan the content: If you have a free choice, choose a subject you know or understand well. Break your presentation into three memorable points and give it a good structure - starting with an introduction and ending with a summary and an invitation for questions. Visual aids must be visual: don't include too much text.

  15. How to Prepare for Case Study Exercises at Assessment Centers

    Step 3. Timed Practice. Once you have sourced one or more practice case studies, take the opportunity to practice to a time limit. The case study may come with a time limit, or the employer may have already told you how long you will have to complete the real case study exercise on the day.

  16. How To Prepare For Assessment Centre? (2024 Guide)

    The case study exercise assesses a whole range of skills that may be required in your ideal job. In this exercise, expect assessors to focus on your: ... Making a presentation. A lot of assessment centres will require you to make a presentation on a topic. You may be given the topic prior to the day itself or may be presented with it at the ...

  17. Assessment Centre Guide

    They aim to simulate an in-person assessment centre, allowing employers to assess a candidate's suitability for a job role by evaluating a range of skills and abilities whilst communicating online. Virtual assessment centres typically involve a range of activities, such as case studies, group exercises, presentations, and individual interviews.

  18. Assessment Centre

    On the day, you can expect to take part in a group exercise, a case study presentation, a formal interview and a role play exercise (depending on the scheme). But we'll give you a call before your assessment to go through the details and make sure you have all the information you need about what will happen - and when.

  19. Definitive Guide to Law Firm Case Studies! *Monday Article Series*

    897. 2,386. Jan 18, 2021. #1. Hi all, please see below the third of my Monday Article Series! This week is my definitive guide to case studies. It's a long one - you might want to go get a coffee and settle in! Introduction. This week's Monday Article will cover how to approach law firm case studies, one of the most intimidating parts of the ...

  20. How to prepare for an Investment Banking Assessment Centre

    Also, I have now created a LinkedIn page for InternGamePlan so feel free to give that a follow.. Introduction. Assessment Centres are the final hurdle before receiving an internship offer and as well as being an extension to the first interview rounds, there are other components to prepare for, such as case studies, presentations and group discussions.

  21. CMS Assessment Centre

    The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise: For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions.