Assessment centre: group exercises

Group exercises have become a mainstay of any graduate assessment centre because they allow you to be examined on various skills at once. Here’s our handy guide on how to knock the group exercise out of the park, and how to know what the recruiters are looking for in the exercise.


Contributing without attempting to take over the discussion is a vital part of succeeding in this exercise. No one is going to hire someone that can’t participate in group discussions, but they don’t want an egomaniac who takes over the conversation either.

If you know you’re shy then make an effort to make your voice heard; if you know you tend to talk a lot, rein it in a little bit. In the same way, if you notice one person is talking a lot and some people aren’t, do your best to get everybody to engage in the conversation and share their ideas.

Time management

There’s always some sort of time constraint to these exercises, and there’s nothing worse than being underprepared because you didn’t keep an eye on the clock. Keep everyone on track if things start to get a little bit out of hand, and make sure that occasionally you all refer to exactly where you are in the solution to make sure you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Task analysis

Remember that they can ask you to do a variety of different things over the course of an assessment centre, and that no two assessment centres are the same. Even if you think that you’ve done something similar before, make sure you analyse the challenge that has been put in front of you before you launch into discussion and debate.

Have a think about what the assessors are trying to gain from you, and how they want you to respond to the stimuli that have been set for you. By taking a minute to think properly about what they’re looking for you can stop yourself going off-topic or rambling, which are huge no-nos.