Things to keep in mind during a group exercise
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Group exercises are quite a unique type of activity that you might take part in during an assessment day and are often a great learning experience. At most stages during the application process, you will likely face challenges on your own, which is why the thought of taking part in a group exercise may seem daunting; however, that doesn’t mean that these types of activity are something to worry about.
While taking part in a formal group exercise may be something you’ve never done before, you will likely have worked as part of a team in a different situation – perhaps during a part-time job, a group presentation at university or as part of a sports team.
Group activities are a great way to improve your social skills and an enjoyable opportunity to be creative, hands on and (most importantly) yourself; they are also an invaluable learning experience.
While everybody takes something different away from them, the following post provides some helpful hints that are worth bearing in mind when participating in a group exercise.
Get involved sooner rather than later
It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to sit in a group and listen without realising that five minutes has passed and you haven’t said a word. You will probably not have too long to complete the task, so once you’ve taken that first step and shared an idea, the rest of the process will be much easier.
Faced with a constant flow of ideas and suggestions from the group, before you know it the task will be over. Getting involved as soon as possible will allow you to find your feet with the exercise, be comfortable sharing your ideas and take part from the get-go. More importantly, it will give you plenty of time to show the rest of the group what you can do.
If you aren’t sure, say so
The aim of a group exercise is not necessarily to produce a perfect answer, but to work as a team in order to come up with a collective version of the perfect answer. If you feel lost at any part or don’t quite understand what somebody is saying, politely ask them to repeat it. Being able to follow a group discussion and contribute is more worthwhile than losing the thread of a conversation and never getting it back.
Equally, if you have an idea but aren’t 100% sure whether it will work, don’t feel as though you must keep it to yourself. Chances are you’ll be able to work through it as a group and develop it further – you will never know if you don’t try. A major part of teamwork is working collaboratively and embracing everybody’s ideas.
Be mindful of those around you
As part of a team you need to remember to be aware of those around you. Being a team player brings with it the opportunity to demonstrate and develop your communication skills and adapt to a group setting.
If you sense that someone is feeling nervous and being rather quiet, find a way to include them. Consider how much you would appreciate someone introducing you into the discussion if the shoe was on the other foot.
Be conscious of how people interact with you – if someone asks you a question about something you said or tries to help you develop an idea, be sure to stay active in the conversation. Developing your knowledge of group dynamics at this stage will pay dividends in your future career.
You don’t have to be the most confident person in the room or have the most experience to be a great addition to the team; each participant brings something to the table. One of the obvious benefits of group exercises is that you’re not alone; however, each team member is unique and a significant part of the process is simply being yourself.