15 August 2017
5 Ways to Ace Group Tasks in Assessment Centres
Congratulations for making it through to an assessment centre!
Typically, assessment centres are the final stage of the selection process regarding graduate recruiters and they’re becoming extremely popular amongst companies.
During your stay, you can expect to be tested on a variety of skills and scenarios from in-tray exercises, to psychometric tests and group activities.
The group tasks can be particularly tricky to execute as you’re expected to work with your competition and simultaneously show why you’re the best.
To help you succeed, here’s what to expect from group tasks in an assessment centre and five ways to ace them.
Common group tasks
Throughout your day, you’ll be asked to participate in several group activities. Here are some exercises to help you prepare effectively...
Remember, your first day in a new class at school, where you went round in a circle and told everyone your name and what you did on holiday?
Ice-breakers in an assessment centre are essentially the same thing, except you’ll most likely introduce yourself by completing a task as a group.
Rather than testing your skills, ice-breakers are all about relaxing candidates and creating a team bond so that you feel comfortable and are able to perform at your best throughout the day.
While at an assessment centre, you’ll also be expected to participate in a discussion-led exercise.
Typically, this is a business scenario where you’re asked to share ideas and strategies and reach a conclusion.
During this exercise, your potential employer will assess your behaviour and the group’s dynamics including team work, social skills, business acumen, leadership, compatibility, decisiveness and interpersonal skills.
You should also expect to participate in a role-play situation.
Often, candidates are given a brief detailing a situation and a particular role for them to play. For example, it might be a mock meeting where you are a client or a manager.
Your aim is to fulfil your function and objectives, to prove your ability to perform in similar situations in your new role.
How to ace your group tasks
So now you know what to expect from group tasks in an assessment centre, we’re going to reveal exactly how to ace them. Read on for our five tips.
1. Identify the skills you’ll be tested on
In order to succeed in group tasks, you need to work out what skills you’ll be tested on.
Firstly, be aware that you’ll be tested against the job’s competencies, particularly in the role play session.
Therefore, go through the job spec and pull out any essential skills and abilities required that directly relate to the role – these are likely to make an appearance.
In addition, the employer wants to make sure you’re a good fit for the company, so your assessors will keep an eye out for soft skills and business acumen required in every role.
Some of the criteria you’ll be tested on include; adaptability, communication, leadership, negotiation and teamwork.
You’ll be assessed against competency frameworks, which are likely to include skills mentioned in the job description.
As a result, it’s important to familiarise yourself with potential grading criteria beforehand to ensure you tick all the right boxes – literally!
2. Practise potential exercises
To ensure your performance on the day is a winning one, it’s worth practising potential exercises.
Regarding ice-breakers, try to think of three initial talking points, such as who you are, your background and how you feel about being at the assessment centre.
This will help you get stuck in with the conversation. In turn, it’s also worth thinking of a couple of questions to ask your fellow candidates to ensure you cement the bond.
In order to practise discussions and role-plays before the big day, you need to refer back to the job description.
Pull out a few key duties and plan different scenarios and talking points in relation to the responsibilities, as they are likely to come up.
3. Follow instructions to the tee
Much like in your initial interview, you must follow instructions precisely. If you don’t follow instructions to the tee, you’re not fulfilling the brief, suggesting you’re not the best one for the job.
Always listen carefully to your instructors, paying particular attention to what you need to do and what the result should be.
If you’re ever unsure of anything, never be afraid to ask for clarification – it may be the difference between a triumph and a fail.
4. Use your competition as leverage
Assessment centres can be particularly difficult to navigate because while you’re up against your competition, you’re also expected to work with them. As a result, how you work with the competition is key to your success.
In order to use your competition as leverage, it’s important to remain as polite and professional as possible. Avoid criticising and interrupting other candidates, because even if they’re in the wrong, you’ll come off as the bad guy.
If anything, get to know your competition and cooperate with them. Remember that even though you’re up for the same role and may have similar skill sets, everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different.
Therefore, there may be a way for you to bounce off one another, by praising and building on each other’s comments for example and working collectively.
As you’re in a group situation, you may find that some voices dominate others. If this happens to you, don’t try to undermine or interrupt, instead, intervene politely. This will paint you in a positive light and give you the best chance to showcase your abilities, too.
5. Don’t dwell on your mistakes
Working with a group of people you don’t know can be difficult, especially in an assessment situation. But whether you say the wrong thing, get completely embarrassed or instigate an awkward situation, you can’t dwell on your mistakes.
The wonderful thing about assessment centres is that you’ll be tested in a variety of situations against a range of criteria. Therefore, where you lack in one area, you can easily excel in another.
In short, own your mistakes, rise above them and focus on the next task.
While group tasks in assessment centres can be tricky, there are a variety of ways to shoot for success.
If anything, always keep in mind what you’re being tested on and remember to remain polite and professional at all times, and you’ll find that will take you a long way.
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