Assessment Centre Group Exercises: How to make a great impression

group-exercisesIf you’ve recently got through the application form for a placement or graduate job and been offered a place at an assessment centre, congratulations! Assessment centres are typically made up of an interview, presentation and a group exercise, although the activities may vary.

Discover our top tips below for the group exercise part of the assessment centre and how to make the best impression on recruiters!

What are group exercises all about?

A group exercise usually takes the form of a discussion group, typically of four to eight people. You most likely will be given a case study or topic to discuss or a problem to solve within a time limit.

In order to replicate the workplace, the recruiter may offer additional information relating to the scenario during the exercise itself to see how candidates respond to changing information and/or priorities.

Alternative approaches include a group where each member is assigned a role to play, or there may be a practical team exercise (for example the group may be asked to build something with restricted materials and teams may be in competition with one another).

Why are they used by recruiters?

Group exercises are commonly used by recruiters in order to find out how well you communicate in a group, how well you work in a team, your ability to process information in order to solve problems and even your commercial awareness.

One or more assessors watch the group interact. A leader is not appointed as the assessors want to see the different roles members of the group naturally take, for example: leader, ideas person, timekeeper, diplomat etc.

How do I impress the recruiters in a group exercise?

According to the Target Jobs, the best way to impress an employer is to “show yourself as a good team player – flexible, full of ideas but willing to listen to and help expand the ideas of others.”

There are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of doing well in a group exercise situation.

Here are our 5 top tips…

  1. Firstly, it’s important that you say something early on, as the longer you leave it, the harder it can be to make a contribution. If a candidate doesn’t join in the discussion it is difficult for the assessors to make any positive judgements about them.
  2. Second, if you feel shut out of the discussion at any stage – you can come back in fairly easily, either by complimenting someone on a view or an opinion which they’ve expressed, or by asking them to clarify something they’ve said. But avoid interrupting other participants as employers may mark you down.
  3. If one person is dominating the discussion, it may be helpful to summarise the situation at convenient opportunities. Acting as time-keeper is another way to stay involved. You will be marked positively for these kinds of contributions because they are seen as moving the group along in a supportive way.
  4. If you are leading the discussion you should aim to: introduce the topic; set down any guidelines such as encouraging only one person to speak at a time; establish and get agreement on how the group is to approach the task, curtail overbearing contributors if you can, whilst involving those on the edge of the discussion.
  5. Finally, steer the group towards a point where you can make a short summary of the discussion. Be aware of the time because you need to complete the task in the time allowed.

Want to practice your group exercise skills?

The Employability & Careers Centre will be running a number of interactive group exercise workshops in the spring semester in order to prepare you for upcoming assessment centres. Don’t miss out on these great sessions:

  • Mock Assessment Centre with IBM on Tuesday 28th February 2017, 6-7pm. Registration for this event will be added soon to the Careers Events calendar here.
  • Assessment Centre Group Work Exercise with the Employability and Careers Centre during March 2017. Dates, times and how to register will be announced soon on the Careers Events calendar here.

Best of luck!