Are You Using Case Studies In Interviews? If Not, You Should Be

“I think hiring, by nature, is an imperfect art.”¬†Or at least that’s what Jason, a commenter from Massachusetts, said in response to an article published in the New York Times earlier this year. The article is about case studies in interviews–sometimes known as case interviews–and discusses an interview technique that we think can be invaluable to any company interviewing new candidates.

The Case Study/Case Interview: An Introduction

The case interview isn’t a new concept–it’s been used by recruiters for some time, especially for consulting positions–but it often isn’t given much attention for entry-level positions.

In concept, though, case studies in interviews are pretty simple. Rather than asking typical questions like “tell us about your skills,” or “what’s a challenging situation that you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?,” case interviews focus on presenting the candidate with a very specific problem and asking him or her to solve it.

For an accounting firm, for instance, the employer could ask the candidate about a very specific auditing situation–the type of situation that the candidate may find themselves in if they were brought onto the team. The main idea of the case study in an interview is to see how a candidate thinks–which may not be as evident when asking typical interview questions.

Why Case Studies are Useful When Interviewing

Here’s where we get back to the quote that we opened with. Hiring really is an imperfect art. Unless you’re interviewing upper-level management and have the resources to spend a lot of time interviewing a candidate, there’s only so much you can learn about a candidate from a few hour-long interviews.

The case interview is a great way to get around that. After you get the basic questions out of the way (maybe in a phone or brief screening interview), you can present the case study to the candidate. You’ll get a lot of insight into how the candidate thinks–which will accordingly give you a lot of information about how they’ll fit within the company–and even if they can’t solve the problem right away, you’ll get valuable insight into the way they approach problems in front of them.

When it comes to actually executing a case interview, many companies will give candidates the opportunity to see the case study before the interview, and the interview process will be used to walk through the candidate’s reasoning for how they solved the problem, and why.

Whether you do that beforehand, or the day of, you should make sure that you give the candidate enough time to sit through and work out the problem–unless, of course, you want to learn more about their ability to react to tough situations quickly.

Making the Most of Everyone’s Time

Although hiring may be an imperfect art in many situations, interviewing techniques like case studies can help you make the most out of the limited time you have to interview and screen candidates. Once AIM Careerlink helps you find the candidates you’re looking for, you still have to go through and figure out who you want to hire.

Case study interviews are a great way to screen candidates and find people who will fit well within your company. So if you’re not already using case studies to interview your recruits, think about trying it out. The insight you’ll gain about candidates during the interview process should make that extra bit of effort well worth it in the end.

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