Many of you will have been invited or will be invited to attend an assessment centre. This is very common if you apply to a graduate scheme.

One question that we get asked all the time about assessment centres is “how can I stand out during the group exercise?” You say “I am not confident enough” or “I can’t keep up with the others, they talk too fast.

Group exercises are one of the biggest challenges for international students. It is especially difficult when you have no practice or experience in doing them before.

So why do recruiters organise group exercises?

Time is precious and large employers want to save as much of it as possible. Individual face-to-face interviews can take a big chunk out of the day, especially if you have lots of suitable applicants.

During assessment centres, recruiters can see a number of candidates at once and pick out the very best.


The key to success is knowing how to tackle them. Here are some great tips to remember:

Tip #1 – It’s still an interview

A lot of people attending a group exercise fall into the trap of thinking that this type of assessment isn’t as serious or important as a face-to-face one interview. This is where they fall down!

It’s easy to let the others do the talking, don’t forget to speak up.

Aim to participate with considered, intelligent suggestions and comments. Quality over quantity, you do not have to be the loudest or most talkative person in the group.

Often, simply actively listening and asking other group members for their opinion is enough to show you are a team player.

Also, avoid interrupting others while they are speaking.


Tip #2 – Be prepared

While it’s true that a lot of group exercises will involve activities that you can’t really prepare for, you still need to do your research.

Good candidates will use what they know about the company to influence what they say and do during the exercise.

Additionally, having some experience in the form of assessment centre coaching will always be useful.

We offer assessment centre coaching as part of our coaching programmes, to find out more about it more simply fill in the form at the bottom of this post.

Sometimes the group work involves discusses a topic, including recent events in the industry, so you could prepare by reading newspapers and making sure you’re up to date.


Tip #3 – Take it seriously

We’re social creatures, that’s just how we work. So, at group exercises, you may come across people you really get along with. It’s always great to make new friends, but don’t forget that they’re also your competition. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly with them – in fact, the assessors will be looking to see how well you can interact.

However, don’t let joking around with your new best mate ruin your chances of getting the job. On the other hand, you may bump heads with certain characters; don’t rise to it, stay professional!


Tip #4 – Don’t be shy

Yes, walking into a room of strangers can make it hard to do your thing. You’re all there for the same reason, so take a deep breath and put on your game face.

Remember that they’re probably all just as nervous as you are, even if they don’t show it.

Even if you don’t feel it, it’s important to come across as confident during a group exercise. Fake it until you make it, as they say! Plus, the more confident you act, the more confident you’ll feel.


Tip #5 – Show your people skills

Being confident is important, but don’t overdo it. Some candidates try to show their confidence or leadership skills by completely taking over. This won’t do them any favours, so don’t take a leaf out of their book.

Employers want to hire people who are going to work well with their team.

Show that you are a team player by doing the following things:

  • Show you’re listening
  • Encourage the opinions of others
  • Include quieter members of the group in conversation
  • Help to delegate tasks and keep an eye on the time
  • Praise good ideas

Follow these top tips and you will be sure to stand out during group exercises!


If you are an international student in the UK looking for graduate job advice, fill out the form below and we will get in touch with you:

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