Group Exercise

A group exercise is an extended selection procedure, usually held either on the employer's premises or in a hotel. It takes place after the first round of test and before the final selection is made. It gives employers a greater opportunity to see how candidates perform various tasks over an extended period, rather than in a single relatively short interview. A number of different assessors get to see you over a longer period of time and have the chance to see what you can do, rather than what you say you can do, in a variety of situations.

As with any selection process, thorough preparation is key to maximising the outcome of your assessment. A group exercise may be a practical group assignment or a group discussion. In all situations, assessors are looking for evidence of teamwork, problem-solving ability, planning and organising skill, and creative thinking. Remember that good team working is not always about getting your ideas taken forward, but also listening to and building upon the ideas of others too.

Here are a few tips:
  • In light of the information given, decide objectives and priorities. Make a plan and follow it.
  • Be assertive and persuasive, but also diplomatic.
  • Remember that the quality of what you have to say is more important than the quantity.
  • Make sure the group keeps to time, and help to steer things back on track if the group appears to have gone off on a tangent.
  • Keep calm, and use your sense of humour where appropriate.
  • Find a balance between advancing your own ideas and helping the group to complete the task.
  • Actively listen to what everyone has to say, using nods, smiles and eye contact.
  • Try to get the best contribution from everyone and do not assume that quiet members have nothing to contribute. Be inclusive.
Do not be distracted if one member of the group dominates the conversation, not allowing anyone else to have a say. The worst way to deal with this is to try to compete by shouting over them. A good way of dealing with the situation is to listen to their views and then suggest that other members may have input too. Even if this doesn't stop them, the assessors will have picked up on your efforts, which will reflect well on you. Examples of group exercises are:
Practical tasks
You may be asked as a group to use some materials to make something - a tower, using only straws and string or only papers and tape, for example. The assessors are usually more interested in how the group interacts than in the outcome of the task. They will also be assessing your planning and problem-solving skills and the creativity in your individual ideas. As with any group activity, get involved however silly you consider the task to be.
Discussions and role plays
You may be asked to take part in a leaderless group discussion or in an exercise where you are given a briefing pack and asked to play a particular part. The assessors are looking for your individual contribution to the team, as well as your communication and influencing skills.
You are typically asked to prepare a presentation, often based on a proposed business plan or your approach to the first 6 months in the role you are applying for. While the quality of the content is important, of more importance is the delivery of the presentation and your ability to think on your feet when fielding questions.