How to perform well in a group exercise assessment for a media & music industry job

Black Music Canteen

So you’ve filled out that job application for your trainee media or music industry job or apprenticeship and you’ve been asked to come to an interview. All good – but there’s some reference in the letter to a group assessment exercise that you’ll have to complete on your interview day.  Some companies use group assessment exercises together with interviews as part of their selection process. You are put in a group and given a task or challenge. Assessors will also be in the room with you to monitor your performance in the group. A group assessment could involve role play with an actor playing out a work scenario, testing your negotiation skills or more commonly a problem solving exercise. It’s designed to find out what type of colleague you would be.  How would you work as part of a team to generate ideas, negotiate or solve challenges if you worked for this company?  Here are some tips on how to prepare and approach this group assessment.

1. Listening Skills

  • Be an active listener rather than a passive one. Show that you are following and understanding the conversation by:

a. Reflecting back the key feelings  “I can hear how passionate you are about this…”  or words “So your thoughts are that we should…” of the current speaker. b.Occasionally summarise where you are in the discussion by re-stating the key points discussed so far. This keeps the conversation on track and allows the conversation to then progress in greater depth.

  • Practice these techniques with a friend in the lead up to your assessment.
  • These are also good tools to use if you need to interrupt someone who may have been speaking for a long time. They’ll feel they have been understood and therefore there’s no longer a reason for them to extend their point making. This leaves you room to move the conversation on to another level. As a technique it’s very subtle but hugely impactful!

2. What to say

  • Use plain clear language, don’t try and throw in big words to impress. You want everyone to understand your argument.
  • Short sentences are best – it can be very nerve racking in these assessments and you don’t want to lose your train of thought!
  • Ask open questions “Tell me a bit more about..” or probing questions “What led to that research taking place…”
  • Don’t shout or be too loud. You don’t want to be a mouse – however it’s been shown that people who speak more quietly are actually more likely to be heard! The group will need to concentrate more to hear what you have to say.
  • Remember the competencies in the job description that the employer is looking for.  This is your opportunity to demonstrate you have those competencies and skills in a  practical way. You can also use quick examples of your real life experience solving similar challenges if/where relevant.
  • Make sure you are aware of the time, so you can pace your contributions
  • Re-stating the brief if the conversation goes off track is another good way of interjecting.

3. Be a Team Player

  • In the music and media industry  great team work leads to success. A lot of work can be campaign or project led and you need to work in teams. Group exercises are a great way of assessing if you are a team player.
  • During the assessment if you feel a team member has made an important point that has not been heard, then be the one who re-focuses the group to listen to them “Hey guys – I think Sophie made a great point here we may have missed…”
  • Similarly if someone has been really quiet – you may want to try and involve them “Jen, how do you feel about…?”
  • Both of these tactics demonstrate greater leadership skills than trying to dominate the conversation

4. Body Language

  • Make sure your body language is congruent with what you say, if not this will always give you away!
  • Sometimes you don’t realise the signals your body is sending, so you need to make a point of mentally checking in with yourself at points during your conversation. Ask yourself at intervals “Am I staring?”, “Leaning forward?”, “Arms crossed?” “Not making eye contact?” “Jaws clenched?” etc

5. Be a Leader

  • It’s not about controlling the conversation. Just because someone is talking a lot – it doesn’t mean they have impressed the assessors!
  • Speak with conviction – believe in what you say, but don’t be stubborn!  The misconception in the music and media industry is that you need to be brash and bolshy. This is not true. Instead show that you are a good influencer, a great negotiator and that you are able to build positive relationships.
  • People sometimes think leading is about being the loudest, most dominant, or most talkative. It’s more about steering the group to a decision. Of course you need to get your point of view across too! The decision you come to may not always be a consensual one (not all team members will agree on it), but you should aim for everyone to agree that the process by which the decision has been met has been a fair one and everyone has had a chance to chip in.

Ruby Mulraine is the Director of Black Music Canteen a unique consultancy, content production and creative agency specialising in urban/black music.  She has over 20 years experience delivering multi-platform content to youth audiences working for Kiss FM, and BBC Radio 1 & BBC Radio 1Xtra as an Executive Producer. Ruby has also worked in the TV industry on ITV and Channel 4 dramas and documentaries, the film industry and on music videos.  She is a a Radio Academy and Mobo awards judge and has been a Brit Awards judge. Ruby is a board member of Diaspora promoting BAME equality in the music industry and a special advisor on the PRS for Music Foundation’s Momentum music scheme supporting new music talent.




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