Group exercise

A group exercise is an assessed discussion exercise that involves a small group of candidates (usually 8-10 people), following a question posed by a member of a firm’s recruitment team. Group exercises occur frequently at graduate assessment days.

Candidates are usually given some information relating to a business scenario before the group exercise begins, with a short amount of time available to read this and make notes. You will then be asked to join the other candidates, and you will all be briefed to discuss the information provided and reach a conclusion. Normally these exercises are restricted to about 10 minutes, so it is important to work fast. A common variation is for each person in the group to be assigned an individual role and given some extra information only he/she sees, in addition to the common information.

How to Perform at Group Exercises

The group exercise will be observed by recruitment staff and the performance of each individual member will be strictly assessed and almost certainly rated in relation to a set of performance criteria or competencies such as: leadership; enthusiasm; or persuasiveness.

Crucially your assessors will be looking for evidence of:

  • Logical arguments
  • Teamwork
  • Confidence/Strength of character

It is key that:

  • You are not overbearing.
  • You are clear, concise and confident.
  • Everybody in the group has an equal opportunity to speak.
  • You make your points and if criticised, are prepared to stand up for yourself and diplomatically argue why your opinions are valid.
  • You do not sit quietly while other candidates make their points without making your own.
  • The group reaches a conclusion in the time allocated.

Be inclusive and self assess yourself about half way through the interview. You need to contribute otherwise interviewers will not be able to assess you and if you know that you are prone to being quiet - or quite dominant in a group - you may need to moderate your communication so that you include yourself and other people.

Make sure that you follow the instructions that are given to you at the start of the exercise - ensure that you link information back to the brief that you are given. Try and prioritise, watch the time (but also make sure that you are accurate). It may be sensible not to use other people's names during the exercise unless you are 100% sure that you are correct.

Try to show your understanding of the firm’s services on offer by relating these to the project (if possible). Do not make it obvious but try to "work the room", involving everyone and motivating other people.

If available, use the white board and try to establish a lead role early on. Bring other people into the discussion by passing ideas around, stay focused on the objective and make it known that you are aware of the amount of time left and that there is a deadline. If you can, try to dictate the pace of the discussion in your favour, be confident and enthusiastic and think carefully about your ideas before you voice them.

For further information, feel free to ask questions on the WikiJob forums.