Applications / Assessment centres

How to make a good impression in a group exercise

What is a group exercise?

A group exercise is an assessed discussion that involves a small group of candidates (usually 8 to 10 people) followed by a question posed by a member of the company’s recruitment team. This could be a question related to a business scenario, a decision you have to make as a team or a practical team building exercise. It can be an enjoyable part of a recruitment process, giving you the chance to demonstrate how you perform in a team. This can either be virtual or face-to-face. Understanding the purpose behind group exercises and how to prepare for them can help you stand out. In this article, we explain what a group exercise is, list common types of group exercises and explain where group exercises are used.

Common types of group exercise – here are the most common types of group exercises that you might consider preparing for:

Case Study Specific

During a case study, candidates will be given a brief based on a realistic scenario. The assessor will then test the candidates on how they have reacted to the brief, for example, how you have presented your ideas to the team. The candidates usually have a set period of time to analyze the situation and documents. Regularly in a case study you will be given different roles to the other applicants, and you will have to try and work as a team to find a solution to the case study example given.

When applying for a leadership role, assessors may want to get an understanding on your skills and how well you can lead a team.

Tip: Consider what skills the company and interviewer will want you to demonstrate. Likely, it is real life skills you will encounter when on the job. Consider how you may demonstrate in a group discussion for example the following competencies:

  • Time-keeping
  • Active Listening
  • Problem Solving

Broader discussion

Assessors give group members a topic to discuss, either from the news or something related to the industry you are applying for. At the end of the discussion, candidates may be asked to speak up about what was discussed, or the conclusions found.

Tip: Be open minded and open to other team members ideas.

Where might you see a group exercise?

Assessment exercises continue to be very popular for big businesses. These happen face-to-face and allow assessors to observe first-hand how candidates work within a team and apply skills and knowledge to a variety of activities. Many companies also use virtual group exercises. This is where candidates will meet the assessors on an online platform and partake in the group exercise in break-out rooms. Some examples of companies using group exercises within their assessment centre are: 

  • Deloitte
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Aldi

Bear in mind, whichever company you are applying for, tasks remain very similar in what is required from you. Ensure you talk clearly and communicate effectively with the camera/group.

5 top tips to help you succeed at an assessment centre group exercise

Here are a few top tips to help make your group exercise a fun and exciting experience.

Step 1: Prepare in advance

  • Research the organization and job as you would a normal interview. Familiar yourself with the competencies they value for the role you are applying for.
  • Use the GF platform to become acquainted with the type of group exercises you could be given and how best to approach them.

Step 2: Show leadership skills

  • When showing leadership skills to the assessors, try to dictate the pace of the discussion, be confident and enthusiastic, thinking carefully about your ideas before voicing them.
  • Stay focused on the objective at all times, avoiding tangents.

Step 3: Demonstrate effective communication

  • Demonstrate active listening to others, by responding to what they say when they have finished.
  • When you express your ideas, be clear, concise and confident.

Step 4: Understand the brief

  • It is really important that you understand the brief, so you are able to contribute effectively.
  • Make sure you don’t get left behind if other people in the group understand it and move on. Before they do so, don’t be afraid to ask another candidate what he thinks about a specific topic or idea to gain more clarity.

Step 5: Motivation and time keeping

  • Keeping up motivation/morale with the team is very important
  • Be the one to manage timekeeping or ask someone else if they’d be happy to keep track.

Overall, to be successful, make sure you use the group exercise to get the most out of others and manage the team dynamic in a positive way. You can practise Group Exercises and over 100 job assessments on GF. Register with your University of Warwick email address via the Warwick Welcome pageBest of luck in your Group Exercise!

Written by Fern McCann LLB and Peter Thornton BA MA, Consultants at Graduates First in collaboration with the University of Warwick Careers Team.

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