Depending on the number of interviewees on the day, group exercises will usually range from four to eight people with a host of assessors sitting in for the duration of the exercise. Students might be given a case study to read and are then asked to discuss the activity in a group. The group must then present their findings. Alternatively the students may be split into smaller groups and asked to negotiate. The types of case studies vary – I’ve seen fictional business dilemmas, firm strategy/sector discussions to the unusual ‘who would you invite to a dinner party?’.
Assessors are looking to see how you operate within a group dynamic. However many share misconceptions that those who speak the most and put forth the most forceful arguments are necessarily the most successful. In fact, being either extremity: too loud or too quiet, are common reasons candidates are rejected. When practicing as lawyers, knowing when to speak and when to listen are vital qualities both when working in a team and interacting with clients: acting competitive can suggest poor teamwork and interpersonal skills.
On the other hand, a good candidate can defend or concede their points of view where appropriate. They will interject with useful arguments which progress the team towards the main objective, whilst ensuring they listen to different points of view. In fact, there are many roles a candidate can take to do well within a group. This includes effective time management, approaching and listening to quieter members of the group and delegating responsibilities.Group exercise
You can’t prepare for the fact patterns and that’s understandably frustrating. But you can prepare how you behave which is exactly what they’re assessing (interpersonal skills/communication etc.). Think about:
- Can you put your viewpoint across firmly but not forcefully
- Can you delegate (e.g. you could ask someone who seems quiet what their opinion is)
- Do you listen and respond or are you just waiting to make your point?
Try to think of the group exercise as a team working towards an objective. If someone in the team is going down the wrong path or being forceful, try to guide them but if you can’t get them back it’ll be to their own detriment. Also note that you can take a number of roles from time-keeper to scribe: you don’t necessarily have to lead.