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Group Exercise

A group exercise involves a small group of candidates engaged in an assessed discussion

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Assessment Centre Exercises:

Free Group Exercise Download

Group exercises, sometimes called group discussions, are a common exercise used by employers. Each group exercise will vary in its detail, but the style and format tend to follow a common format. We have designed a typical style of group exercise, which you can download below. Feel free to download the exercise, print it out and sit the exercise with friends or colleagues. Please respect our copyright though; if you want to use this for anything other than personal use you will need our permission.

Download a Free Group Exercise (PDF)

Use the instructions document for taking part in the exercise. Use the candidate guidance document to get an insight into what assessors typically look for and for help with reflecting on your own performance.

How do Group exercises work?

During an assessment centre process, group exercise may be used as a selection tool. These exercises are commonly used in graduate schemes for positions that involve team work and collaboration. These groups can be from 8-16 in size, and all candidates will be provided with a relevant workplace problem or scenario which will require the whole team to work together and resolve the problem. The group may be made up of candidate who are applying for different roles. Therefore, you are not competing with each other necessarily. Group exercises depend on the content and context of the role application. Some may be solving a problem, another may play out as a mock meeting.

What does a group exercise assess?

Group exercises typically assess a candidates behavior in a group, and the overall group dynamics involved in the exercise. Typical factors assessed in a group exercise include:

  • Business acumen
  • Capacity to deal with deadlines under pressure
  • Decisiveness and critical thinking ability
  • How to compatible a candidate's skills and behavior are for the role
  • Interpersonal skills, i.e. listening skills, persuasion, diplomacy, mediation, composure, patience, etc
  • Leadership potential and influence
  • Social skills, confidence and communication skills
  • Team working ability

What you should know before taking a group exercise

It is important to remember that group exercises will be a contributing factor to the selection process, employers are unlikely to base these decisions solely on the group exercise, so don't panic if you have never done one before. Well in advance of your assessment day you will be informed if a group exercises will be part of the selection procedure, as with all other assessment tools. As a result if you are required to undertake one, you will be given time to prepare. However, due to the highly relevant insight into candidates behavior gained during group exercises, it is considered a powerful and reliable tool, which will play an important factor in the recruitment decision.

Types of group exercise

The format of the group exercise may vary considerably. We give three of the most common group exercise formats here:

  • 1. Practical tasks: Group exercises are common in the selection process. Typically, a candidate will be a given a problem to solve and together with another candidates will have to find a solution. Sometimes the tasks will not necessarily be work relevant. Yet, they will always involve team coordination and an ability to work together as a team.
  • 2. Discussion: One style of group exercise is to partake in a group discussion. Candidates will have to deal with a workplace problem and find a solution by identifying said problem, and agreeing as a group the best resolution to the issue.
  • 3. Role-play exercise: Another type of group exercise is to undergo a role play. Candidates will be provided with a certain role which they must undertake. They will be given details on that role. This group role play exercise may be a mock meeting and they must fulfill their individual role objective as well as the group objective.

General group exercise advice

These recommendations can help you succeed during your group exercise, and ensure that you impress recruiters and stand out from the crowd.

  • 1. Stay as calm as possible: Given that the role will likely involve pressure, for you to perform on the spot, it is important that you do not let nerves disrupt your performance. Of course, nerves can help sharpen your skills, but large amounts of anxiety will almost certainly not be helpful and will dissuade recruiters from hiring you. Recruiters know that these exercises can be nerve inducing, especially for graduates who are more inexperienced and less familiar with the role, so do not be too worried about being nervous. The key is to make sure it does not hinder your performance too much. Remember to take a breath, listen to your recruiter during the role play, and take your time.
  • 2. Research the role before the assessment centre: Always make sure you research the role before the role play exercise or indeed any assessment centre in general. Only by knowing the company and the key competencies being sought after will you know what is right for you and what is right for the organisation.
  • 3. Not too much, not too little: It is always good practice to ensure that an appropriate pace is kept throughout the exercise. While it may be inevitable that you have to speed up or slow down during certain sections of the role play exercise, it is not ideal. You do not wish to put yourself in a position where you feel the need to rush or slow down. Try and keep an eye on the time and pace yourself. However, do not look at the clock all the time as this will almost certainly distract you and remove you from the role play. Be careful with your timing.