What are Group Exercises at Assessment Centres?
Group Exercises usually form part of an assessment centre which normally precede the application form stage of a job selection process. In this article I will provide you with some crucial tips for passing the Group Exercise with high grades.
Group exercises are commonly used to assess the following areas:
- Your ability to relate to others;
- Your ability to work as part of a team;
- Your communication skills;
- Your motivation and commitment;
- Your values.
Many people become unnecessarily worried about Group Exercises and ﬁnd the whole experience daunting as a result. However, by preparing effectively and focusing on a number of key areas, you can increase your chances of success dramatically.
The number of people who take part in the exercise will vary, but as a general rule of thumb there are normally eight candidates and up to four assessors in the room. The exercise usually takes place around a seated table, with the assessors seated in strategically placed positions around the room so they can assess their allocated candidates.
SAMPLE GROUP EXERCISE
The exercise is around 45 minutes in duration with a 5 minute initial brieﬁng by one of the assessors. On the table in front of you, you will ﬁnd a number of sheets of paper that detail the exercise and the objectives you are to achieve. Where you sit around the table is irrelevant. The exercise normally consists of a ﬁctitious scenario and you are required, as a group, to come up with solutions to a problem or number of problems.
Before we enter into the type of scenario that you might encounter during the exercise, let’s take a look at a few important pieces of advice:
IT’S NOT A COMPETITION!
Some people make the mistake of thinking they are in competition with the other candidates when, in fact, they are not.
One of the assessment areas for the Group Exercise is the ability to work as part of a team. This will include a number of key factors, but those people who argue, are forceful, rude or aggressive will not score well. Remember you are working together to come up with a solution. Do not worry about what other people are doing but concentrate both on your performance and on the task in hand.
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PART
Those people who do not contribute during the Group Exercise will fail. You must, at the very least, take part and contribute. Most people will have something to say during the Group Exercise and it is important that you do too.
DON’T BE TOO REFLECTIVE
Whilst reﬂection is a positive attribute, there is not much time to sit back and reﬂect during the Group Exercise. The 45 minute period will go quickly and it is important that the group progresses well with the task in hand and comes up with solutions.
DON’T INTERRUPT PEOPLE OR BE DISMISSIVE
Have you ever been in a conversation with a rude, aggressive or dismissive person? Isn’t it annoying? Remember that you are being assessed on your ability to relate to others and your communication skills.
If someone is being rude, interrupts people or speaks over you, then ask them politely if they wouldn’t mind stopping. You won’t be marked down for politely asking. However, you will be marked down if you become confrontational yourself, so be careful and concentrate on the task in hand.
If you see a member of the group struggling or ﬁnding it hard to get involved, then try to help them and involve them. You can ask them probing questions such as ‘What do you think?’ or ‘Do you have any suggestions?’. This kind of approach demonstrates good communication skills and shows that you have the ability to relate to, and involve, others.
BE MOTIVATED AND POSITIVE
During the Group Exercise, try to demonstrate a level of motivation and commitment to achieving the task. This can be achieved in a number of different ways but sitting back/slouching in your chair and not looking interested is not a good way forward.
Come across as if you genuinely want to be involved and provide positive feedback to comments/suggestions that are worthy of praise. For example, if a member of the team comes up with a good solution, why not say to them ‘That’s an excellent idea, does everyone else agree?’. Alternatively, you may wish to ask the group if anyone has any suggestions or good ideas. Demonstrating good communication skills is not just about talking yourself. It’s also about listening, providing feedback and helping others too.
SAMPLE Group Exercise SCENARIO
Now, let’s take a look at a sample scenario. The type of scenario that you will encounter during the Group Exercise stage will vary from year to year and from consortium to consortium. However, it is not the scenario that is important, but rather how you perform during it that really matters. We recommend that you have about 40% of your attention on the task in hand and the remaining 60% concentrating on your performance.
You can use the following sample scenario to prepare for the real exercise. Please note that this is not the exact scenario that you will be presented with on your assessment day. However, it is a good practice aid to assist you during your preparation. Read the scenario in full before taking a look at the task you are required to achieve. Remember that you will be carrying out the exercise in a group situation during the actual assessment day.
You are a group of elected members that represent a foreign country holiday resort called Ficticia. The holiday resort relies heavily on the tourist industry as its main income and many of the inhabitants are employed through this. The country has very little ﬁnancial capital. Unfortunately, there has been a large earthquake that has destroyed the majority of the resort, leaving many people injured or missing. The majority of people who are injured are the young and old.
The resort has a large international airport with two runways. Following the earthquake, only one of the runways is available due to the damage that has been caused. The majority of roads, rail networks and transport routes have also been damaged and aid has been slow in getting to the people who need it most.
There are six options to choose from. Your task is to choose three options only, placing them in order of priority. Use the form provided to indicate which three you have chosen, stating the reasons why. You must also use the form to state the reasons why you have rejected the remaining three. You have 45 minutes in which to complete the exercise.
THE SIX OPTIONS
OPTION NUMBER 1
Accept aid from neighbouring countries that must be paid back at 20% APR.
OPTION NUMBER 2
Take 15% of all inhabitants’ savings to help pay for aid and to get the country back on its feet again.
OPTION NUMBER 3
Force all men and boys above the age of 14 to work and repair the resort’s roads and transport networks for no pay.
OPTION NUMBER 4
Wait for help to arrive.
OPTION NUMBER 5
Ask for volunteers to work for no pay to repair the second international airport runway.
OPTION NUMBER 6
Immediately get what aid there is available to the injured.
TIPS AND ADVICE FOR PASSING THE GROUP EXERCISE
During your preparation for the Group Exercise, concentrate on the key assessment areas that are listed on the ﬁrst page of this section. Remember that one of those key assessment areas is your values. You will need to demonstrate you have the required values when contributing during the Group Exercise. Think about fairness issues when making your contributions.
Whilst communicating during the Group Exercise, think about the Person Speciﬁcation in relation to this area. You should demonstrate an ability to listen to others, share, give and receive support and be able to resolve differences and ﬁnd ways forward when the need arises. In addition to this, it is important that you are able to share information and suggest new ideas.
PRODUCTS YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN
See here to learn more about how to pass assessment centre group exercises.
Remember that it is not a competition and you are there to work together as a team!