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Assessment Centre: Group Discussion

by Tom O'Connor on August 29th, 2013
Candidates at an assessment centre tackle a group discussion scenario

Candidates at an assessment centre tackle a group discussion scenario

We are often asked what is the best strategy for an assessment centre group discussion exercise.

This is the situation where a group of say 4 or more job candidates are given a group problem to discuss & come up with a joint solution.

The starting point is to think of the exercise pretty much in terms of a regular meeting with your own work team.

Then fix on a simple 5-step model, along the lines of:

1. Study the problem. Make sure you read the problem carefully & extract the main points and facts accurately – it could prove fatal, if you get a basic fact wrong in the subsequent discussion.

2. Make an early entry. When discussion begins, plan to make an entry relatively early – otherwise you may get boxed out & your points may get stolen by somebody else.

3. Paraphrase others. Having made your own contribution,  proceed to listen to others speak, and loop back to any of their worthwhile points when you speak again.

4. Progress a joint solution. Plan on making about 4 substantive entries in total over a 20-30 minute discussion period –  progressing toward finding a solution to the problem at hand. And, avoid wishy-washy digressions or going away on tangents, etc.

5. Summarise a consensus. On your final entry, try to summarise a consensus position for the team.

This scheme usually works a treat, unless one of your rivals pulls an interference move – such as immediately jumping to a flipchart, in an effort to dominate proceedings.

Don’t let this knock you off track, however; but rather, be alert to how you can turn it to your advantage.

Instead, move fast – to politely get him/her back in their box.

And, rake in those extra marks … for taking the initiative!

PS. For some useful tips on how to best navigate the various recruitment stages, please click on the appropriate link here:
1. interview preparation
2. panel interviews
3. assessment centres

PPS. To review case studies relating to career change and outplacement, please click here.

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