April 25, 2024

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Example assessment centre group exercises & how to pass them

4 min read
Example assessment centre group exercises & how to pass them

The assessment centre group exercise is used to see your communication and problem-solving skills in action, and to ensure that you can work effectively in a team. You need to support the group in completing the task that has been set, whether that involves discussing a particular issue, constructing something from bits of stationery, or analysing a complex business case study and presenting your findings. The best way to impress the assessors 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.

In recent years, some recruiters have switched to running virtual or digital assessment centres and, by and large, have continued with group exercises. However, a few have chosen not to. Instead, they have found other ways to assess the skills they would have through group exercises that better suit the platform they use – for instance, by adding questions to interviews. It’s a good idea to be prepared to carry out a group exercise either way, whether as preparation to undertake one or so you know the kinds of skills the recruiter might assess elsewhere.

How to impress recruiters during a group exercise

  • You need to contribute, but not to dominate. Be assertive, but not aggressive. If you are aware that you are usually a shy person who does not speak up, do your best to participate. If you know that you can sometimes be overbearing in groups, hold that tendency in check.
  • Speak clearly and confidently. Listen and don’t interrupt. If undertaking a virtual group exercise, you could suggest using the ‘raise a hand’ function or similar so you can all take it in turn to speak. Be aware of what others in the group are contributing. Try to draw out quieter members and seek their views.
  • Be diplomatic. If one person is behaving in a dominant way, don’t shout them down, but try to make sure that everybody gets a chance to share their thoughts. You can say things such as: ‘That’s a really good point [name], but [name] hasn’t had a chance to contribute yet’ or ‘You’ve made some good points, but we haven’t yet considered X, Y and Z and I think we should before coming to a decision’. Be prepared to compromise.
  • Make use of the resources available to you. If you are in the room together, use the flipchart and pens provided; if you are communicating digitally, use the virtual whiteboard if there is one.
  • Volunteering to be notetaker or timekeeper can be a good way to impress, as it shows that you are a considerate team player who takes responsibility. The flip side of this, however, is that you need to perform those functions well and make sure that you also contribute to the overarching discussions.
  • Keep an eye on the time and stay focused on the overall objective. From time to time, summarise the group’s progress, even if you aren’t notetaker or timekeeper.
  • Remember that you are not being primarily assessed on whether you reach the ‘right’ answer (often there isn’t one), but on how you work with others. Take a look at our in-depth features on demonstrating

    communication

    and

    teamworking

    skills for more insights.

Example group exercise 1: the case study

This is probably the most common group exercise you will face at an assessment centre. In this type of exercise the group is given a set period of time to work together to respond to a case study brief, often a set of documents based on a real-life business situation. At some assessment centres the candidates may have already been interviewed about the case study brief on an individual basis. The group may be invited to present its findings as part of the exercise.

The case study scenario is likely to present the sort of challenges that you would encounter on the job and gives the assessors a chance to see how you would perform. Sometimes each candidate is given a different briefing document or role to play, and the group has to reach a conclusion despite the conflicting views of its members.

Example group exercise 2: the discussion group

A discussion group involves group members being given a topic or topics to discuss. The nature of the topics can vary but usually they involve an issue of current importance to students or something that’s been in the news recently. Sometimes they are related to the industry that the employer works in: candidates applying for construction graduate programmes may be asked how the industry could address skills shortages, for example.

You are not usually given time to prepare so it’s a good idea to read a quality newspaper or current affairs magazines/websites (such as

The Economist

) in the weeks before the assessment centre.

At the end of the discussion each candidate may be invited to comment briefly in turn on one of the group’s conclusions, so it’s vital to listen as well as to speak up.

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