These are the part within an assessment day that most candidates worry and ask questions about.

What are group assessments?

They are usually conducted with three to six people in a group, though sometimes firms will have larger groups. There are often assessors in the room who tend to makes notes on what people say within the group, rather than assessing them there and then.

In these situations, it is not advisable for participants to ask for advice from the assessors. They should greet them, but not interact any further than this.

Some firms opt to have the assessors absent from the room. Instead the candidate is filmed and assessed in a separate room. This form of assessment is well received by attendees as they tend to be more relaxed when they are not face to face with the assessors – although there are also stories of people becoming too relaxed so forgetting they are being assessed. Candidates are always told about the cameras – there are no secrets! It’s all very open and geared towards helping the prospective employees perform to the best of their abilities.

What tasks will you be asked to perform?

With regards to the content of group assessments, they can range from directly relevant to not at all. Relevant examples may be candidates being asked to read through a pile of information/research and prepare a pitch to present in their interview. The idea here is to simulate a real working environment where they would have lots of information available and limited time to prepare.

Another example is a group being asked to solve a business solution. Roles are assigned, such as the finance director, marketing director, HR director, etc, and as a ‘leadership board’ graduates must decide their corporate strategy. Examples often relate to hot topics in the market – so a sun cream company would need to account for factors such as skin cancer, and a beer company would need to discuss whether to sell strong, varied or non-alcoholic beverages. Subjects such as these are given to encourage teamwork, discussion and debate.

The less obviously relevant examples could be something as simple as using paper, scissors and tape to make a paper chain. This may appear trivial as it seemingly has no relevance to the job, but these tasks are set to see how people organise themselves, communicate, hit the deadline and work together – whilst needing no technical knowledge to complete the task.

What are recruiters looking for in group assessments?

Mainly for teamworking and communication skills. However, some firms may look for business acumen, problem solving and drive as well.

It is key to strike a balance in showing these skills in the session. Companies do not always necessarily look to employ the leader, instead anyone who shows drive, problem solving and communication skills. It is important to also add creative and constructive ideas to this. Other desired qualities are negotiation skills and proof that you can work in a group by combining to complete the task successfully.

The following are good things to do/say which may show these competencies:

Teamwork

  • ‘Does anyone have any experience of this market at all that they can bring to the team?’
  • Clarify any time constraints and team goals.
  • Suggest how to structure the group to complete the task in time.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of others and build on them.

Communication

  • Try to get quieter group members involved. Using their names is excellent as it personalises the questions and makes them more likely to contribute.
  • Clarify any points or decisions made.
  • State points clearly and concisely, using facts/evidence to validate thoughts.
  • Defend your ideas but be flexible and willing to accept when others put good arguments forward.
  • Don’t dominate the conversation.
  • Be tactful and respectful when challenging suggestions.
  • Talk and engage – if you don’t contribute very much or cannot be heard you cannot score well.

Problem solving

  • Identify the problem/factors, and try to think of wider implications.
  • Take reasonable logical steps to resolve the issue.
  • Use facts/evidence to validate arguments and solutions.
  • Ensure the chosen solution is practical.
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