Guide to 10 different assessment centre group exercises

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Group assessment-based interviews see candidates undertake a series of activities and exercises that help employers gauge how well they might fit into their organisation. These types of interviews help employers get a sense of their candidates' values, strengths and how well they perform in groups. Though there are variations in how organisations carry this out, they're all used to assess whole groups of candidates simultaneously. In this article, we look at what assessment centre group exercises are, with ten examples of how they're commonly used and a tips section on how you can prepare for them.

What are assessment centre group exercises?

Assessment centre group exercises are activities that assess the competencies of a candidate in real-life situations. Group exercises may help determine candidates' interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, how they work in teams and their creativity. In assessment centres, such exercises take many forms. One common type of group exercise refers to role-playing, as candidates act out a scenario with other candidates playing different roles. Another common type of group exercise is a competence game. This involves performing a task while under observation by others and then discussing what went well and what needs improvement.

Related: 7 Example Group Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)

Examples of assessment group exercises

Here's a list of ten assessment group exercises and how they're used:

1. Problem-solving exercises

Employers use problem-solving exercises in interviews to help candidates demonstrate their ability to work with others, their ability to work under pressure and how they approach solving problems. These exercises also help determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the organisation's culture and values. In this scenario, candidates receive a problem to solve individually so that they can show their strengths. After each candidate works independently on the task, they come together as a group and discuss their approaches. Here, interviewers get a sense of how candidates think through problems and communicate with others.

Related: 8 common problem-solving interview questions to understand

2. Group thinking exercises

Group thinking exercises help employers determine how well a candidate works with others and test whether they fit in with the company culture. For example, if an interviewer asks a candidate to come up with various solutions to a problem in a group with other applicants, they can demonstrate how well they work as part of a team. Group thinking exercises also give the interviewer a professional insight into your personality. This refers to whether you're a leader or follower or whether you're able to work socially and interact with colleagues.

3. Thought exercises

Group thought exercises are typically used in interviews as they encourage teamwork, collaboration and creative problem-solving in candidates. This is because such exercises are particularly helpful for teams that haven't previously worked together or for individuals who haven't had much experience working with other people. In a group thought exercise, applicants receive a problem to solve together. This provides them with an opportunity to showcase their communication skills and their ability to work well with others while also demonstrating their creativity and problem-solving abilities. This gives the interviewer insight into how they approach an issue.

Related: 7 useful brainstorming techniques and how they work

4. Role-playing exercises

Group role-playing exercises are commonly used in interviews for a number of reasons. Firstly, the group setting allows the interviewer to observe how the interviewee interacts with others. This helps them determine whether or not the interviewee might be a good fit for their team. Secondly, it allows candidates to practice teamwork, which is a desirable trait in job candidates. Thirdly, it helps candidates understand what's expected of them in the role. This is because the scenario allows them to practice certain responsibilities before they officially start the job.

5. Team-building exercises

Group team-building exercises are common in interviews for any position that requires teamwork, though they're especially effective as an interviewing technique for entry-level positions and for those where applicants are going to work as a team member. Some employers use these exercises to see how well candidates work in a group setting before hiring them. They want to know if they have effective communication skills and if they're able to delegate tasks efficiently. It's also important for them to ensure that a candidate doesn't dominate discussions or fail to take charge when necessary.

Related: 6 corporate team-building ideas (and why they're useful)

6. Mapping exercises

Group mapping exercises help interviewers evaluate a candidate's ability to work on a team and communicate with others. For this, group mapping exercises typically involve a collaborative activity, such as creating a diagram. It's sometimes difficult for an interviewer to assess whether a candidate has good communication skills just by talking with them one-on-one. To get a better idea of how they interact with others, they tend to create group settings. Therefore, group mapping exercises are ideal for monitoring candidates as they work together on a task.

7. Concept mapping exercises

Group concept mapping exercises help candidates communicate more effectively while also helping them identify areas where they can work together to solve problems. Group concept mapping is a method of thinking that focuses on creating connections between ideas rather than creating new ideas from scratch. The exercise requires the participants to work together in small teams, using sticky notes to map out their thoughts on a particular topic. This type of activity helps interviewees become familiar with working with others in a professional setting and sharing their ideas. It also encourages them to think about how their ideas connect.

8. Case study exercises

Group case study exercises used in interviews help recruiters assess the ability of candidates to work in teams and make decisions under pressure. The purpose of these exercises is to simulate real-world situations and gauge how well candidates perform their job functions while dealing with a common problem. A group case study exercise typically takes place in front of an interviewer. They start by asking questions related to the case study and expect answers from each candidate within their group. This helps interviewers determine how each candidate works in teams, how they communicate ideas and how they solve problems.

Related: How to impress at a case study interview: what to expect and tips for success

9. Storyboarding

Group storyboarding exercises are normally used in interviews to help candidates further understand the position they're applying for and to get them thinking about the type of work expected of them. This is because these types of exercises allow applicants to practise communicating their skills and experience in a variety of ways. Storyboarding also helps them think more clearly about their strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to the position they're applying for. It also helps them develop a clearer picture of what it might be like to work in such a role on a day-to-day basis.

10. Collaborative learning groups

Group collaborative learning exercises help candidates make connections with other team members, which is an important part of working in a team environment. Such exercises also help candidates learn how to communicate effectively with their team in real-time, which is important for many jobs. The most common type of group collaborative exercise is the idea-sharing exercise, where each person has to share their ideas about a given topic with the whole group. This gives candidates a chance to hear about each other's ideas and opinions on the topic.

Assessment group exercise tips

Here are some tips for tackling group exercise-based interviews at assessment centres:

Don't be afraid to ask questions

It's beneficial for candidates to ask questions during group exercises because it allows them to demonstrate their curiosity, initiative and ability to think critically. This also shows the employer that you're interested in the position and the organisation's culture while also giving you further information about the role. Asking helpful, insightful questions in an interview also gives you a chance to show how well you think under pressure.

Work as a team

Interviewers often ask candidates to work with others during an assessment task. Although this may be difficult, it's useful to ensure that you can work together as a team. This involves ensuring that each team member is clear on what the overall goal is and what they're supposed to be contributing towards it. This shows the interviewer how you're able to work in a team and lead a team with examples of delegation.

Related: How to succeed in a group exercise interview (with tips)

Listen carefully

Although it's easy to become distracted by what other people are saying or doing around you, it's good practice that each candidate listens closely and takes notes about what each person is contributing. This ensures that you don't repeat previous answers, which may come across negatively to employers. It also allows you to make points on what went well and answer what you might improve upon when you reflect on the exercise.

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