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The Point – The Assesment Center Group Exercise

Before each exercise, ask yourself “What’s the point?”

The Group Exercise at assessment centres come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Regardless of “what”, they entail, it’s important you understand the “why”. These exercises are all about bringing out certain attributes, characteristics and skills. The exercise itself is not important, which is why you will hear phrases like “it doesn’t matter if you complete the exercise or not” or “there is no right or wrong answer” before you start. Ask yourself the question, “what are they trying to get out of this exercise?” Then make sure you deliver.

The Group Exercise

These vary dramatically but the key is in the name – group. These are used to evaluate how you behave in a team. Common mistakes people make are to focus on solving the task. Don’t forget, it’s not about the task!

1. Look for Opportunities to Show Leadership

If no one is speaking, be the first one to speak and suggest that everyone takes two minutes to read through the information pack. Then bring people back and either suggest a place to start or ask someone what they think. Make decisions if things are taking too long, and ask people to agree. “We only have 5 minutes left, let’s go with option X and focus on the next step”.

Picture: Wikipedia

2. Use Peoples Names

Everyone will have name badges on, and often a sign with their name in front of it. Names are personal, they quickly build rapport and they are placed everywhere for a reason! Ask people what they think, ask them if they agree to get them involved in the conversation.

3. Keep an Eye on the Time

Wear a watch. All these exercises will be time bound. You will only have a very short window to complete the task. Monitor the time and make sure the rest of the group is aware of what is going on and how much time you have left to do it in. 15 minutes can go very quickly with six different opinions contributing. Often there is a deliverable to complete, don’t spend all your time discussing the idea and forget about the end goal. Agree to draw a line to give yourself enough time to produce what you need.

So there you have it – three tips for succeeding on the day. In my experience, it’s been groups that are often progressed to the next round, rather than individuals. Four out of five in my group moved to the next stage so don’t get caught up in being competitive! Alternatively, if you have a bad group, but can demonstrate these attributes, you can still progress.

What’s been your experience of assessment days? Any tips for people in the same place? I would love to hear about them in the comments.