Handling Case Studies

Quick Case Study FAQ

1. What is a case study?

A case study is when you are given a potential business scenario and asked to assess it for a particular outcome. These completely vary from firm to firm, with only some firms incorporating them into interviews whilst others don’t use them.

2. What kind of case studies can I expect?

Examples of potential case studies are:

A. You are given a fact sheet on two different companies looking to merge. Write a summary/presentation assessing the merger for your firm’s partners.

B. Your firm is looking to move office. You are given a document containing different office spaces and another document detailing what the firm requires from an office, Analyse the information and create a presentation to the partners detailing which office you think is most suitable for the firm to relocate to.

Confused about how to handle these? You’ve come to the right place

Some key points to think about when you receive the information and start reading about it:

– Identify the issues that need to be addressed depending on what the brief says
– Consider what information you do and don’t have
– Outline the objectives/desirable outcomes
– Generate ideas and alternative solutions depending on the brief.

What you need to show:
– That you know how to think critically about information you are given
– That you are commercially minded/aware
– You are able to quickly pull relevant information from large pieces of text

If you are asked to write up a brief or solution to the case study in full, or to present your findings, follow this structure:

Intro
Overview of situation, identification of key issues that you are going to be addressing

Main 
Present and analyse the issues
Detail possible solution(s), and show you have weighed up the strengths, weaknesses and risk factors of your solution(s)

Conclusion 
Summarise your main findings/solutions
Identify and justify your strategy/solution that you have proposed/decided is strongest, either by comparing to the other possible solutions or providing good evidence

Unsure how to assess the scenario you have been given?

Use SWOT

STRENGTHS
WEAKNESSES
OPPORTUNITIES
THREATS

Strengths 
Examples:
– Specialist expertise 
– Reputation
– Location
– Something that adds value

Weaknesses
– Debt 
– Too many competitors, project undifferentiated from its competitors 
– Too complex
– Clashing business ideas/workplace cultures

Opportunities
– Developing/emerging market
– Mergers, joint ventures, strategic alliances
– New international market
– Market vacated by an ineffective competitor 

Threats
– New legislature, codes of compliance (eg if doing business in a new country, new jurisdiction)
– New competitor 

An effective analysis summarises and explains the information that is needed to establish realistic business strategies and milestones, and to detect holes or risks in the business plan.

Final tip: A lot of this stuff is about common sense so don’t panic if it seems like a lot of information. If you’ve studied law and/or read up for your commercial awareness you will understand the kind of things that are logical to look for if you’re presented with a case study! I always used to remember the SWOT method just in case I froze up or panicked in the moment and couldn’t remember what to look for.

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