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How to succeed in your group exercise

Ok this is it! Your big chance to shine in a group setting. Making a good impression during this exercise can have a powerful impact on the assessors. Here are some tips to help you to succeed in the group exercise.

Arrive early

When you’re competing against a number of other candidates, it’s essential you make the most of every opportunity to stand out –and not be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Aside from being punctual and courteous, arriving ahead of schedule has another unique advantage in this situation. At a group interview, you can expect to be monitored from the moment you enter the building, so the earlier you arrive, the longer you have to impress. It also allows you to interact with other candidates in a less formal setting, showing off your social skills.

However, always bear in mind that there is such a thing as arriving too early. Getting there before the security guard won’t win you any bonus points.

Introduce yourself to everyone with genuine warmth

[Note: Ideally, this is something you should do before the group exercise.] At some point after your arrival the candidates will all be stood/sat together, most likely feeling nervous and being very quiet as they wait to begin an assessment activity.
Use this time to introduce yourself to the others. Smile at them warmly as you shake their hands. Not only does this break the ice and project a confident image, it also gets them on your side and this will help you throughout this and other exercises.

Make the effort to remember their names because…

People love it when you use their names

Remembering the other candidates’ (and assessors’) names shows you are well-mannered and attentive but it also demonstrates you have a good eye for detail and predisposes them to like you.

Try it at natural moments and combine it with a compliment for maximum points! (“What do you think Tom?”, “Great point Emma” etc)

Remember the icebreaker

Before any of the actual tasks begin, you’ll almost always be asked to provide some sort of introduction for yourself (or worse, some sort of introduction for someone else in the group). To avoid embarrassing situations, always prepare your answer beforehand. Your intro needn’t be long, provided it’s pertinent and engaging.

Remember: if you can’t think of anything particularly exciting, embellishments are allowed. Although it may be true, ‘um, I’m not sure, I’m not really that interesting...’ isn’t going to give you the start you need.

Sit up straight

Body language can make all the difference. Do it right, and you'll appear attentive and alert, showing your interviewers that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Do it wrong, however, and you’ll only look listless and lethargic (not the qualities of choice for many employers).

There’s nothing wrong with relaxing as the interview progresses and showing that you’re comfortable. But you needn’t let your attitude compromise your posture. So try and sit up straight wherever possible. Just remember to breathe occasionally...

Prepare questions

If you’ve prepared for your interview correctly, you should have carried out plenty of research about what the company does and their position within the market. Always use this to your advantage during the obligatory ‘any other questions’ portion of the interview.

However, if you genuinely can’t think of anything to bring up for discussion, don’t force it. Asking an irrelevant question just for the sake of asking one is more transparent than you may think.

If possible, take the lead

Whoever assumes the leadership role automatically gets a head start on the other competitors. Being prepared to show initiative and take responsibility in this way is viewed positively by most assessors. Don’t force it in an unnatural way – but if possible, take the lead.

Include everyone/Be inclusive

Although your leadership skills are being assessed, don’t be tempted to go overboard. One of the most important facets of leadership is the ability to ensure everyone’s opinions are heard, not just voicing your own.

If there’s an introvert in the group, getting them involved in the task and encouraging them to participate will win you major points, both with your fellow candidates and with your interviewers.

Be calm & assertive not aggressive

It can be difficult to put your personality across in a well-rounded way during the group exercise because every candidate wants to make a good impression and each candidate will have a different view of how best to achieve that. Some will be aggressive and dominating because they want to demonstrate drive, leadership or passion. Others will be overwhelmed and feel so nervous that they struggle to get a foothold in the discussion at all.

Make sure you take part, be forceful if needs be, but smile and be polite and positive at the same time. Think ‘calm and assertive’ rather than ‘aggression’.

Include others

Teamwork, co-operation and the ability to listen to others are important. Including members of the group who have previously been quiet is always a winner with the assessors.