Group exercises - whether you love them or hate them, if you’re attending an assessment centre there’s a high probability you'll take part in one.
They aim to test your ability to work effectively in a team, as you complete a task. We’ve come up with five key things that are important to remember and will make you stand out in the eyes of your assessors.
1. Effective communication
It's crucial to demonstrate that you are able to listen to the opinions of others. That means being able to actively listen to others and responding to what they say rather than just waiting for them to finish so you can make your point. When you're expressing your ideas be clear, concise and confident. Make your point but don’t dominate the discussion.
2. Develop on the ideas of others
Being able to listen to the ideas of others and build on them suggests you're an active listening. It's also a way of showing support and encouragement for others and their suggestions. Look to recognise the merit ideas and promote these using positive language, such as: ‘I really like that idea, and it would allow us to.....’ or ‘that definitely makes sense, and if we combine it with....’.
3. Engage and include everyone
Assessors will always be looking for your ability to manage and improve a team dynamic. Performance of a team depends largely on the effectiveness of all members so do what you can to get everyone involved. Ask the quieter members of the group for their input; address them directly using their name – ‘John, what do you think about that idea?’ Encourage everyone to take it in turn suggesting his or her opinions, and give time for them to get their point across. When everyone has put their ideas across, it’s good to suggest a democratic approach to decision-making, so everyone has a say.
4. Understand the brief
...And ensure others do too. It’s really important that you understand the brief so that you're able to contribute effectively. If you don’t understand after initially reading it through but others in the group seem to be getting it, make sure you don't get left behind.
Before the team picks up speed, suggest that each person quickly summarises his or her understanding of the brief, so you’re all on the same page. By suggesting this you can listen to what others think first and use their understanding to support your own opinions.
5. Motivation and timekeeping
Keeping up motivation/morale within the team is important. Remember to use positive language in support of others’ ideas. When you have successes within a team activity you should congratulate people; ‘well done everyone, that was brilliant, we’re halfway through, we’re going to get this finished.’
Be the one to manage timekeeping or ask someone if they would be happy to keep track. Allocate time to the tasks within the overall objective; if you’ve got an hour to complete the activity and there are four parts then plan how long to allocate to each part and keep the team on track.
Overall, to be successful in a group exercise you have to get the most out of others and manage the team dynamic in a positive way.
Remember if you’re not contributing to the group then you are not giving the assessor anything to assess, effectively handicapping yourself from scoring well.