Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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Working in diverse teams

4.1 Further examples of assessment centre activities

The example you have just read about in Case study 1 is a real one from recent recruitment activity in the Open University Careers team. This is only one type of group activity. You will now look at some of the other kinds of assessment activities you could encounter.

An image of a group of adults sitting at a table at an assessment centre.
Figure 4 A group exercise at an assessment centre
  1. Case study scenario – candidates are likely to be given a briefing document or role to play. The task of the group is to reach a conclusion or consensus despite the conflicting views of the members of the team. Examples of this could include a lifeboat scenario where the ship is going to sink and the lifeboat only has room for five of the ten passengers. The task here is to decide who will enter the lifeboat using the information you have about the characters on board.
  2. Discussion group – candidates are likely to be sat in a circle and are given a topic to discuss. The nature of the topic is likely to be relevant to the job for which they are applying or something that has recently been in the news. At the end of the task, each member may have to provide feedback about their thoughts and how this might have changed through the discussion.
  3. Icebreaker – this can be a more practical activity and is a good way of seeing how a group gels. The group is likely to have to complete a specific task within a tight deadline such as building a tower from straws, paper and tape.

It is worth taking a moment to reflect on how you feel you would perform in these kinds of group activities. What kind of feelings do you anticipate you would experience? Would you enjoy the challenge and feel confident in your ability to perform well or would you be concerned about how you would come across? Remember that it is normal to find these kinds of situations uncomfortable. Remembering that everyone will be feeling the same way can be helpful.

Activity 5 What are observers looking for?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Take a moment now to consider what the observers are looking for when they are observing the performance of the group in these activities. Having an idea of how the activity will be viewed and assessed and the kind of behaviours that the observers would feel to be positive and those that they would see as negative can help both calm your nerves and make it clearer to you how you should perform.

Now watch the video below made by Barclay’s Bank, which is a discussion that the interview panel have after a group assessment activity. While watching make notes on both the postive and negative points they notice.

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Table 2 Interview panel feedback

Positive points they noticeNegative points they notice
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Table 2 (completed) Interview panel feedback

Positive points they noticeNegative points they notice
  • Able to pull an argument together
  • Volunteering to write up
  • Taking leadership of the group
  • Facilitating conversation
  • Not arrogant, domineering or dismissive
  • Consistent performance
  • Got the group to focus on end objective
  • Collaborated well with group
  • Challenged thinking of other members of the group
  • Enthusiastic
  • No evidence of being analytical with the information
  • Did not contribute enough evidence to show all the competencies
  • Lacked confidence
  • Too quiet and difficult to hear
  • Lacked personal impact
  • Did not assert self
  • Needed to slow down

Did you manage to get most of these? Were there any surprises for you in terms of what the observers were looking for? If you were involved in this activity, what do you think the observers would be saying about you?

Remember that it is important to be yourself in any group assessment activity. If you think back now to the earlier week when you considered the kind or role that you naturally play in a team you might feel reassured to know that recruiters will not be looking for one type of behaviour or personality as a team needs many different strengths to succeed.

Top tips for performing in group assessment activities

  1. Contribute but don’t dominate. Be assertive but not aggressive. Try and encourage quieter members to contribute their views.
  2. Speak clearly and confidently. Listen and don’t interrupt.
  3. Be prepared to compromise and don’t shout down someone if they are dominating the discussion.
  4. Keep an eye on the time and stay focused on the overall objective. Summarise the group’s progress at intervals throughout the activity.

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