A common theme found nowadays when discussing recruitment is the assessment centre. Assessment centres are a great way of sorting out the candidates that have passed the application stage and the consequent psychometric tests.

Whether you’re doing a vacation scheme or have gone for the direct training contract application, you are very likely to encounter a number of exercises during an assessment centre, one of these being the team exercise or the group exercise.

As the name suggests, this exercise involves the candidate working alongside others to fulfil a given task. Their performance is assessed and the way in which they interact with others plays a crucial role in their overall performance.

Because for many the group exercise is a new experience, below are a number of proposals candidates should consider that are going to improve their performance during the group exercise and increase their chances of outscoring their candidates. It’s a weird feeling – you have to both work effectively as a team with your allocated group and you must also remember that, ultimately, you’re all fighting for the same prize, the training contract, so doing your best to showcase your skills and abilities is crucial.

1. Be open

Being open and communicative are great traits to possess regardless of the sector you want to work in, be it law, retail, engineering, or others. It is therefore crucial that you show the recruitment team, who will be following each and every move of yours for the duration of the exercise, that you not only possess these skills but can also use them when needed. Communicate with your group. If the task involves a debate between group members, make sure to make a valid contribution, emphasising your points and showing how your ideas contribute to the main argument.

2. Assume and stick to a role

Whilst everyone generally battles to be the team leader, it is important to remember that there are more members to a team. Don’t get this wrong, if you have strong leadership skills, like I do, go for it. Be the leader. Show that you can take charge of things, that you can delegate responsibility and lead the group to success. However, if you are the quieter type and don’t like being in the limelight, don’t stress too much. Not everyone in the team has to be the leader. Even worse, having two group members ‘’competing’’ for this position could very easily harm their and the team’s performance. There’s nothing wrong in being a working part of the team and not the leader – you can still showcase the fact that you are able to take responsibility, follow the task that you’ve been given, ask for help if needed and deliver on what you have to. Think of it this way – not everyone in a law firm is a partner, but everyone must work effectively as a team for them to succeed.

3. Use your skills

Some may believe that, due to the fact that the exercise is there to see you working in a team, only the group effort matters. Far from it. Your individual performance is also assessed and therefore it is paramount that you still ‘’sell yourself’’. Show everyone how skilled you are – if the exercise involves any niche knowledge, make sure to use it. For example, you may be given a task where you’re stranded on a deserted island and you have to take some equipment from your shore-ridden boat with you, but you can only carry so much. If you have survival skills you would know what items are more important and thus you will help the team succeed in the exercise. At the same time, you will showcase your knowledge by actively participating in the debate. Furthermore, you will be emphasising your specialist knowledge, which takes you to another level from candidates who might not have it. Same goes for an exercise where, for example, you have to build a robot from straws and playdoh. If you have great manual working skills this will help the team but most importantly it will help you. You want to look special, so use your skills.

4. Be professional

This should go without saying. The task generally wants to see you perform under pressure in a team, similar to what you’d do in the workplace. As such, you have to maintain a professional standard throughout the exercise. This includes being polite, not being aggressive and definitely not using expletives. You’ve done so much work to get where you are – it’d be a shame to ruin it all by adopting a non-professional stance. You seek to enter the legal profession and should act accordingly.

5. Be effective

In order to work efficiently within a team you have to be flexible – different people have different skills and work ethics. It is important to recognise the skills your group members have and try to use this to your advantage. The more you capitalise on these small opportunities the better the team will do in the exercise. Someone multilingual in your group with would add to the team performance? Use this. Someone gifted musically which could improve your team in one way or another? Use this. Someone experienced in coding? Use this. Individual strengths make a team better overall, so make use of everything you’ve got.

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