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What is a group discussion exercise? Why are group discussion exercises used by employers? How to pass group exercises? If these are questions on your mind, then this is the guide for you.

In this article, our experts dive into all you need to know about group exercises at assessment centers. Discover what to expect from these exercises, which employers use them and the top tips you can use to prepare for group discussion assessments.

Our website provides practice assessment centre exercises that can be used to prepare for a group discussion assessment in the recruitment process. Start your practice to prepare for group discussions.

Wondering whether you should be practicing to prepare for your group exercises? According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, 2020), around one third of employers use assessment centres in their application process.

Experiencing the office environment is a significant factor for candidates in recruitment. Moreover, it was felt that feeling personally valued with a potential to have a career at the company are more important which are possible to achieve virtually.

Institute of Student Employers (2020)


  1. What is a Group Discussion Exercise?
  2. Why are Group Exercises used at Assessment Centres?
  3. How to Prepare for a Group Exercise
  4. Examples of Group Discussion Exercises
  5. 8 Tips to Pass a Group Discussion Exercise
  6. How are Group Exercises Assessed?
  7. Which Industries use Group Exercises?
  8. Group Discussions FAQs

Let’s get started!

What is a Group Discussion Exercise?

A group discussion exercise, also known as a group assessment interview, is an assessment center exercise where 5-15 candidates are paired together to work on a given task to complete. Group discussions are often used by employers to assess a candidates’ interpersonal skills.

Good to know: During a group discussion, each team and individual is observed throughout the exercise to see how they work together and interact to finish the task at hand. By doing this assessors can understand how well you work with your team members, and how you contribute and interact with everyone within your team.

For a quick guide with example tasks and our top group discussion tips to pass your exercise, check out our video below:

Assessment Centre Group Exercises | How to Pass, with Example Task & Virtual Assessment Day Tips

Online Group Discussion Exercises

Online assessment centres are increasingly becoming more common for remote jobs. It is therefore likely that your group discussions may be held virtually.  In which case, you will be required to log in to the video call software where the group exercises will be carried out.

Good to know: Virtual group exercises are useful for assessing how candidates perform for remote jobs, where your group will be observed by your interviewer on an online platform such as: Skype, Zoom, Google Meets, etc. 

Check out more information about virtual assessment centres and why employers use them in this quick video below:

Why Do Employers Use Virtual Assessment Centres? #shorts 

Why are Group Exercises used at Assessment Centres?

There are a few key reasons why employers use group exercises to test job candidates at assessment centers. Below are the two main reasons why recruiters use group discussion assessments:

  1. To measure competencies

Group discussion assessments contain various elements which allow assessors to test to see if you and the group have the skills required for the role. These competencies often include:

  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Negotiation
  • Team working 
  • Time Management
  • Understanding of the business

Keep reading below to discover how group exercises are used to assess these key skills.

  1. General knowledge of the company’s culture

The second reason why group exercises are used is to gain an understanding of whether candidates are the right fit for the job and the company, as the assessors observe how you approach job-specific tasks as a team. Throughout the group discussion your behaviours and actions will be measured against the company values and culture.

Keep reading to discover our top tips to prepare and pass your group discussion assessment.

How to Prepare for a Group Discussion Exercise

Here are 4 super useful group discussion tips you can use to boost your preparation ahead of your exercise:

  1. Do your research: Check the company’s culture and value from their website. Consider how the ideal employee would act. Read through the job description to understand the key competencies required.
  1. Practice: Practice discussion exercises with your friends or family members and gain feedback on your performance. Use the feedback to understand key strength and development areas.
  1. Do further research: Another key aspect you are likely to be assessed on is your business acumen. Stay up to date with the latest news about the employer and the industry the company is in. 
  1. Develop your confidence: Communication and confidence is key in group discussions. Hone your spoken communication skills ahead of time by practicing with friends, family or using our interview practice platform to gain feedback on your communication abilities.
Group interview practice questions

So what do group discussion tests usually involve? Continue reading to find out more!

Examples of Group Discussion Exercises

There are a few most commonly used types of group exercises discussions that are used by employers during assessment centers to assess the candidates. The type of group discussion used will depend on the requirements of the role and the employer.

Here are 5 most commonly used group exercises used at assessment centres:

1. Problem-Solving Exercise

Candidates are given tasks individually. Once the tasks are given, interviewers check out the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Once the candidates are done with their tasks, they meet together within their group and discuss how they solved their task, and what they should have done better.

2. Presentation Exercise

In this exercise, candidates will be required to work together as a team to research on a given topic or case study and present under timed conditions on how they would tackle the scenario and provide a shared conclusion with suggestions or ideas.

3. Case Study Exercise

Here, the interviewer can bring up a topic for each group to discuss.  This topic or case study can be a task or scenario that the company has already tackled in the past. During this case study exercise, the interviewer will place you and your team under timed conditions and will be carefully observing how your team approaches the case.

4. Team Collaboration Exercise

This group exercise is used by interviewers for job roles that involve working with teams often. This exercise is mostly used for entry-level positions and for other positions where candidates will be required to be team members. The recruiter aims to see if you can communicate effectively with your team.

5. Role Playing exercise

You and your fellow team members will be given roles to play in a scenario. Your group will be required to discuss and make decisions based on the information provided in order to resolve the situation.

Your assessor aims to measure how you can handle responsibility and the actions you would take as part of a team. Similarly, the assessor will be assessing how your other team members work with you to reach the common goal. 

Example Role-playing Exercise

In the group exercise, you may be asked to play the role of the manager of a small team who is in charge of developing a product that will be launched next fall season. During the making of this product, you found out a co-worker in your team was not meeting up to their given tasks for the project. 

Here are some actions you can take for this role play assessment example:

  1. Privately discuss the issue with the co-worker to understand the cause, and offer support or additional resources as needed.
  2. Reallocate the co-worker’s tasks to other team members who are able to work in this area of production.
  3. Discuss with the team to review individual responsibilities and the timelines to ensure everyone is on the same page for expectations for the remainder of the product development process.
  4. Offer any additional training or coaching to help the co-worker improve their performance for their tasks and meet expectations.

Good to know: Your assessors will evaluate your performance based on specific criteria or competencies, such as your communication, problem-solving, interpersonal and leadership skills.

Ace your next assessment centre with us using our 10 full sets of exercises including group discussions, role play exercises, presentations and more in our Assessment Centre Prep pack.

8 Tips to Pass a Group Discussion Exercise

Now that we’ve covered some example exercises often used by employers, how do we ace these group discussions? Check out the below super easy-to-follow group discussion tips you can use to pass your next exercise:

  1. Stay confident: Confidence is often assessed as part of the exercise. Take deep breaths to remain calm and remember the practice you’ve done to prepare.
  1. Focus on the task: A key way to keep calm and determined is to focus on what you have been required to do. Consider the purpose behind the situation, what skills you need to show and how you can resolve the situation effectively.
  1. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter questions about the task. You could gain further information on what the interviewer expects from you and further details on the situation.
  1. Check your body language: Make sure you demonstrate good body language and maintain relaxed eye contact. When you are listening to others, be attentive and show this by nodding and through subtle gestures of agreement. 
  1. Manage conflict: Avoid direct confrontation with your team and the assessor. Allow others to speak too in group discussions and avoid being too forceful or speaking over others.
  1. Contribute during the discussion: Don’t choose to be the quiet one! Actively contribute during group discussions where natural. Interviewers will be looking out for this.
  1. Keep time: Keeping a check on the time can earn you good points. Suggesting that you will keep a check on the time and providing regular updates throughout the discussion can also work well. 
  1. Involve others: Keep an eye out for those individuals who do not say anything and take the opportunity to ask them their thoughts. The assessors will love this, the individual will be grateful to have been given a chance to speak and of course, you will be recognized for this.

How are Group Exercises Assessed?

The way that group discussions are assessed often vary depending on the type of assessment and the specific needs of the employer. Often, employers use precise criteria of competencies to grade each individual in a group. 

Good to know: Assessors may score your performance on a scale for each of the different competencies that you do or do not show. Alternatively, assessors may use a checklist which states whether you meet the job requirements based on key characteristics and skills.

Below are some of the key competencies assessors will mark you against in group discussion assessments:

  • Character/Behavior: How you behave in a group exercise gives the employer insight into how you would behave if you were employed in the company. These are often measured by your spoken communication, body language and actions.
  • Listening and communication: Employers want to know if candidates effectively listen to the needs of their co-workers, clients or customers. You are likely to be assessed on how well you pay attention during the exercise, such as by taking notes and your body language.
  • Reasoning and analytical ability: Being able to solve problems effectively and efficiently is key for many employers. The assessors will observe how well you work with the team to approach a problem and find an optimal solution.
  • Teamwork: Employers are constantly looking out for team players. The assessors will look out for candidates who can work with people well, help others, and not make others feel left out of the team. 
  • Leadership skills: Good leadership skills and the ability to take responsibility are often sought by employers, such as for managerial positions. An effective way to demonstrate leadership skills is to help lead the discussion and influence others. 
  • Ability to follow instructions: Employers want to know if you can take and carry out the instructions given. A good headstart is to read the instructions on the candidate brief carefully, and to ask any questions for clarification if unsure.

Good to know: Communication and confidence are essential skills to display in any group discussion. Ensure to contribute to discussions and help lead the discussion to demonstrate these throughout.

Discover more about competencies, other ways these are assessed and some quick tips with this short video below: 

What is a Competency? Get Ready for Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) & Interviews #shorts

Which Industries use Group Exercises?

A variety of industries often involve the use of group exercises to assess job candidates in recruitment processes. Check out these industries include:

  • Hospitality
  • Retail and Customer Service
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Technology
  • Engineering and Construction
  • FMCG
  • Consultancy
  • Public Services
  • HR

Employers in these industries use this exercise to test the ability and competency of job candidates and to see if they are the right fit for the company. Here are just some of the many companies that use of group exercises in their hiring process:

ARUPEYScience and Technology 
BBC EDFSiemens 
AldiNomura Toyota 
Nestle NHSBoeing 

Get ahead in your group discussion assessment preparation with GF and discover real experience with how these top employers assess you through group exercises and gain professional tips to improve your performance against competencies. 

Find out more answers to questions people are asking for group exercise assessments with our FAQs below:

Group Discussions FAQs

How long is a group exercise?

During group exercises, candidates are given around 15 to 30 mins to discuss the task and to come up with a shared solution or conclusion. Candidates may then be required to present their findings under timed conditions or write up a report.

How to stand out in a group discussion?

Here are 5 key ways you can stand out in a group discussion: 

  1. Dress smart
  2. Communicate confidently
  3. Listen to and involve others 
  4. Lead group discussions
  5. Ask questions

What do employers look for in group exercises?

Employers seek to assess how well candidates work within a team. Assessors often measure candidates during these group exercises through various competencies such as: communication, confidence, interpersonal skills, time management and problem solving ability. 

What are the golden rules of group discussion?

  • Organisation
  • All candidates were treated equally
  • Effective communication
  • Focus on others
  • Time management
  • Demonstrate skills
  • Manage body language

Practice and Register with GF to ace your group discussion tests first time

Do you want to pass your group discussion assessments, first time? Sign up for tools offered by GF, the only assessment practice test experts that provide tests to over 100 UK universities and their students, and also across Asia and continental Europe.

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