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Working with a company usually requires you to interact with your peers and colleagues, mentor and motivate your team, and also analyze and solve problems by discussing with the team members. For evaluating the job candidates for these leadership qualities, group exercises may be included in the assessment centres according to the job specifications. In a group exercise, you as a participant are presented with a problem or a situation that you should analyze and discuss together to come up with a solution. The topic is usually related to your career domain or the role you may have to fulfil when at work. While the candidates are finding a solution, the assessors may evaluate them for their communication and interpersonal skills, their analytical thinking and decision-making capabilities, and their abilities to work as a team.
Adequate preparation and strategizing may help you pass a group exercise. However, you should also remember the following factors:
In a group exercise, you will have to communicate well. Having a clear and audible pitch that is assertive, will denote your confidence and leave a positive impression on the assessors. While communicating, you should make use of gestures and facial expressions to help in getting your point across to the other participants. Instead of communicating for long durations once or twice, you should aim to give short bursts of inputs consistently.
As the assessors in a group exercise are generally silent participants who will be observing the candidates from afar and assessing them, you should be considerate of your body language and posture. A laid-back demeanour may exhibit a lack of interest and half-hearted participation. So, you must appear and feel self-assured.
You should speak when your turn will come without cutting off another participant. If another participant tries to interrupt, increase the pitch of your voice and use an assertive tone. You may even request the individual to let you finish before they answer. This will highlight your tactfulness and help you score extra points. A communicating approach that is calm and collected is usually better than an aggressive one.
In a group exercise, you may adopt multiple roles. These may include initiator, leader, communicator, closer and analyzer. You must recognize your strong areas and stick to them. If you have leadership skills, you should handle and guide the proceedings. Moreover, if you like to seize the moment early, you should take up the role of initiator. You may also focus on solving the problem at hand and give information that may help in the same if good analysis is your strong point.
Leadership skills are usually one of the primary attributes some companies look for in the candidates at a group exercise. You must take initiative and guide the proceedings if necessary. The first few minutes will be vital to take charge and seizing the vital moments is important. You can address the participants, offer to be a timekeeper or help in shaping the discussion.
Being a leader does not imply that you will have to dominate the exercise. Give everyone a chance to speak and avoid jumping in at every chance you will get, especially if you don’t have useful input. If you see another participant who is not being given a chance to speak, you may directly ask them what their opinion is regarding the problem. Doing this will establish your team engagement and motivating abilities.
Criticizing the opinion of a participant or reprimanding an individual is a behaviour that is best averted. Analyzing and discussing the positive and negative aspects of views of another participant in a friendly manner is a better approach for the same. Appreciating the valuable inputs of other participants and using their ideas to get closer to solutions are usually highly valued by assessors.
While encouraging everyone else, you must analyze the problem and give inputs. An individual that asks everyone else to do the work and doesn’t contribute himself or herself, may score low marks from the assessors. It is said that a true leader leads from the front, thus you may share your own opinion regarding the problem first at the starting of the exercise.
In a group exercise, listening actively is as important as participating in comprehending the discussion and viewpoints of various participants as well as for leaving a favourable impression on the assessors. While evaluating you, the assessors may give marks for not only when you will speak, but also when will you listen. Therefore, it is important that you not only listen but also ensure that the assessors know that you are paying attention to what is being said by using gestures, such as nodding of the head or looking in the direction of other persons while they are speaking. You may even reconfirm what they might have just said and present your viewpoint on the same to establish the fact that you are taking interest in the group activity and are not just participating for the sake of passing the test. Activities and gestures such as tapping of pen or fingers on the table or turning your back towards a person when they are speaking would reflect your disinterest in the group exercise and may lower your score points.
Solving the problem at hand in a group exercise is as important as consistent participation. Time should be balanced by you in solving the problem and communicating for exhibiting your skills. You must consider all aspects of the problem before arriving at a final decision. Before giving input, you must listen to the opinions forwarded by other participants. Listening to the contribution of other participants and analyzing the problem from their perspective may be helpful to you in arriving at a solution. Sticking to the given information is important and wandering off the topic is ill-advised. Before giving your opinion, you must think through the given problem. Out of box thinking and creative solving approaches will make you stand apart from other participants.
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