What are Assessment Group Exercises?
Group exercises are a common part of an assessment center, and there are several different types of group exercises that might be used.
A group exercise can take place at an in-person assessment center, and they can also be used during a virtual session too.
At the assessment center, you will be put through your paces in different ways so that the recruiters can evaluate your skills and abilities in work-related situations. Group exercises usually involve groups of 8-10 people put together to work on a problem and come up with a solution.
Importance of Group Exercises in the Assessment Process
Although you are being evaluated through the whole assessment center by the hiring team, it is during the group exercise that interpersonal skills like teamwork and communication will be evaluated.
Group exercises are important because they put you in a work-related situation so that the recruitment team can see how well you work with others.
They will be interested in your communication style, your listening skills, and what teamwork or leadership skills you have.
The skills and abilities that are assessed are so important in creating a great working atmosphere and developing a positive workplace culture.
Assessment Group Exercise Examples
Below are some example group exercise tasks you might be asked to take part in. They are categorized into case studies and scenario-based tasks, problem-solving and decision-making tasks, role play and simulations, and team building and collaboration activities.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with each type of group exercise and recognize the skills being assessed for each.
Case Studies and Scenario-Based Tasks
These types of tasks are some of the most common that you will be assessed using, and they require everybody to participate to come up with a solution. It is important to remember that during this type of group exercise, it is not about getting the ‘right ‘ answer - in some cases, there might not be one - but about getting to a solution in the right way - through great teamwork.
Case Study Example 1: Market Expansion
Situation: You are a marketing manager at a successful small-medium enterprise that produces organic skincare products. Your company wants to expand its market share to a new geographic region - South Asia.
Task: Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for this expansion. Consider the unique characteristics of the target market, potential barriers to entry, competitive landscape, cultural factors, and the marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion).
Case Study Example 2: Financial Analysis
Situation: You are a financial analyst at a large corporation. Your boss has given you the recent annual reports of two competing companies in your industry and asked you to analyze their financial health.
Task: Analyze the financial reports and make a comparative assessment. Your analysis should include key financial ratios, profitability, liquidity, solvency, and operational efficiency. Based on your analysis, provide a recommendation on which company your corporation should consider for a potential merger and acquisition.
Scenario-Based Task: Conflict Resolution
Situation: Imagine you are a project manager, and two of your team members are having a disagreement about how to approach a critical aspect of the project. One member believes the team should follow the original plan, while the other member has come up with a new method that could potentially save time but carries some risks.
Task: Describe how you would handle this situation. Include how you would communicate with each team member, the steps you would take to understand the issue, how you would involve the rest of the team (if at all), and your final decision-making process.
Scenario-Based Task 2: Product Development
Imagine you are a product manager in a tech company. You have been asked to develop a new feature for the company’s app that will improve user engagement.
Task: Draft a product development plan that outlines the objectives of the new feature, the steps involved in developing and testing it, a timeline for completion, and a strategy for its launch and promotion. Also, include a plan for gathering and incorporating user feedback after the feature is launched.
Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Exercises
Problem-Solving and Decision-Making exercises are designed to assess your critical thinking, analytical skills, and your approach to solving problems and making decisions. Here’s what you can typically expect from these exercises, and what skills are being assessed:
This is often about having a topic for discussion and trying to solve a problem about it. It might be relevant to the workplace, or it might be something else completely - but whatever it is, you will be expected to work together to find a solution.
Taking a leadership role might seem like a good idea in this sort of exercise, but remember that it is just as important to be able to delegate rather than take over. You want to be confident in the ideas that you are sharing, but you also need to remember that other people have valid input that should be listened to.
Problem-Solving Task Example:
You’ve been hired as a project manager at a software development firm. After a few weeks, you realize that projects are consistently falling behind schedule. What do you do?
In your group, you might be presented with a scenario that has a few potential courses of action to take that might solve the problem. In your group, you will have to come to a reasoned decision about what the next steps should be, and you might have to present the answer to the assessor.
What is important here is making sure that you are negotiating well with everyone, and that you are actively listening to the input of other people on your team. You don’t want to consistently have the spotlight on you, but if nobody else is taking the lead then you should. Make sure that you keep an eye on the time, as these sorts of exercises can become lengthy.
Role-Plays and Simulations
In a role-play simulation, you will often work with the assessor, who will be portraying someone like a customer or a client. You might be expected to present a report to them, or try and convince them to sign up for a new proposal, for example.
In this sort of exercise, you will be expected to quickly learn some information about the company and about what they want to sell, before you speak to the ‘client’. The assessor is not just going to blindly agree to your proposal - they’ll make it a challenge, and ask some questions that are designed to get you a bit flustered. You need to be able to negotiate well here, show leadership, and work well with the rest of your team to show the client why they should buy whatever it is that you are selling.
Scenario: You are a customer service representative at Techtronics, a company that sells electronics online. A customer, Mr. Johnson, calls in, upset about receiving a damaged laptop that he ordered from your company.
Customer Script (Mr. Johnson):
Mr. Johnson: “I’m extremely upset! I was excited to receive my new laptop today, but when I opened the package, I found the laptop damaged. This is completely unacceptable. I need this laptop for my work. How are you going to fix this?”
The simulation exercise is another workplace scenario, but it might involve something like everyone in the group representing different business departments trying to make a decision about something such as a new security system.
You’ll have some data and information about the way your department works, and you’ll be expected to work through the meeting in the way you would if you were employed in that department. This is about professionalism, teamwork, and also good commercial awareness.
Team-Building and Collaboration Activities
Team building exercises tend to be the ones that are considered a bit much - but icebreakers can be about so much more than just getting to know each other. Perhaps you will be asked to introduce yourself to a stranger in the room and learn something about them that you will later share with the group.
These exercises are about confidence and self-awareness, but also about being able to leave your inhibitions at the door and immerse yourself in a new experience. It is about being able to get past that initial nervousness and pay attention to your teammates - so it is important to get past that initial cringe factor.
Many businesses favor group exercises that are related to the workplace, making them more specific and relevant evaluation scenarios - but that doesn’t mean that collaboration activities are done. You may still be asked to build the tallest tower with office supplies.
In these activities, one of the most important things is to get started. Many groups lose out here because they are so busy planning, they forget to do it. It is a collaboration activity, not a theoretical discussion, so don’t chat or plan for too long.
How are you scored?
The scoring on the group exercise depends on many factors - what the employers are looking for in a candidate, what the other applicants are like, and what activities you are doing.
To get a good idea about what the recruiters are looking for in candidates during the group exercises, you should check out the skills listed in the job description and look for clues in the core values of the business.
What skills are employers looking for?
In general, during an assessment center, employers are looking for:
- Verbal communication skills
- Active listening skills
- Being polite and inclusive
- Confidence (but not dominance)
- Actively encouraging others
- Working as a team
- Time management
- Negotiation and persuasion
- Positive mindset
These can all loosely be termed as interpersonal skills, and these are the specific soft skills that govern the way we interact and work with others. Interpersonal skills will help build and develop a positive working environment and the recruitment team will be looking for candidates who will enhance the company culture.
Tips To Prepare for Assessment Group Exercises
Group exercises can be nerve-wracking because they are unfamiliar - but there are certain things that you can do to prepare yourself and things that you can think about before you go.
Effective Communication Skills
If you want to demonstrate your communication skills, then you need to think about all the different ways that you are communicating. You want to make sure that you are contributing to the discussion, but not completely dominating it. Try to encourage other people to join in - be polite and make sure to refer to them by name because this makes you come across as thoughtful.
Active Listening and Collaboration
While you might think that your ideas are the most important, the other participants might have different viewpoints or have more information that you should listen to.
Active listening is not just staying quiet until it is your turn to speak - instead, you want to show that you are listening through non-verbal cues like eye contact and nodding, and confirm that you have understood what you have heard by repeating it back to the speaker.
Collaboration is key to a group exercise, and active listening is a big part of that.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
While you might be focusing on your teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, you will often be solving problems and making decisions - so you need to be thinking critically about all the situations that you are in.
Not all the scenarios will have a ‘right’ answer, but you need to be prepared to make the best out of the information that you have to hand.
Time Management and Organization
The group exercises have a time limit - which is normally only 20-30 minutes.
This is not a lot of time to speak to others and get to understand their point of view, especially in a complicated scenario or in a role-play - so it is important that you stay organized so that you can keep an eye on the time passing. You might want to delegate that role to a member of the team or take it on yourself.
Demonstrating Leadership Qualities
Leadership isn’t just about controlling the action - you will also need to be able to delegate roles, encourage others, negotiate, and be supportive.
Some roles need strong leaders, and the recruitment team wants to be able to see that you can take charge when needed, but also step back and let others take over.
Familiarizing Yourself with Common Exercises
The exercises above are the most common when it comes to group activities - so make sure you have a good idea of what might happen. Get familiar with what these exercises are like, so that you know what to expect and so that you can take part effectively.
Practicing with Mock Exercises
Practice makes perfect, and you can have a go at different exercise types at home by working with family and friends.