What do you do if there is a difficult person in group exercise?



Hi guys, I just failed the PwC assessment centre and decided to reapply after three months. I think group exercise would be my weak point so would like to get some suggestions.

For people without much experience negotiating with others, I do think some group exercises can be more difficult than the other. For example. in the group exercise I attended, there was a very dominating person. The group exercise was about choosing the best option for an oil company to reuse its by-products. Everyone had an option and the group went through all options to choose the best one. In the beginning, we agreed that every candidate takes turns to talk about their options/pros and cons of the option. When it’s my turn, I explained my option and started to say “I personally think this is a good option because…”, he interrupted me and said “sorry we will talk about which options are better after everyone gives an introduction.” I felt I was the one slowing down the team discussion but I knew I should finish the pros/cons part. I agreed with him and asked if I could finish the advantage/disadvantage part. The second time I was interrupted was in the last ten minutes when I was going to add my opinion before we came to a conclusion, he stopped me and said “sorry but we are running out of time, we need to decide”, which again made me feel I could be responsible for the failure to make a decision. At this point someone talked a bit more about her option so I took the opportunity to express my opinion. And we did come to the conclusion.

I haven’t got feedback from PwC (I didn’t get the call but they left a voicemail telling me I failed and asked me to call back for feedback) but I am almost 100% sure that I failed the group exercise. It was my first ac and I have to admit that I was emotionally affected when I was first interrupted. I spoke faster and a bit broken, which I think is a sign of lack of confidence and diplomacy. Another problem is I didn’t talk so much in the discussion, because when there is an obvious problem, everyone wants to speak and it doesn’t come easily for me to take the lead, and when the discussion gets stuck (which is supposed to be a good opportunity to speak) I couldn’t think of what to say immediately.

Although everyone told me the person’s performance affected himself instead of me, I do think it’s difficult not to be affected. I have a friend who was interrupted many times in her group exercise, she didn’t know what to do except for staying silent (her first ac too). I just wonder if someone has had the similar experience and what you did/will do to overturn the situation.

Since I have passed the online tests and telephone interview, would be happy to answer questions about these two stages. For the online tests, I did all the practice on assessmentday and the shl samples. It’s worth repeating the practice on shl, I found they give different questions in each full sample practice. You might find almost all the telephone interview questions in wikijob, don’t just look the simple description given by the website, dig in the forum. If you have time, it’s worth looking at the competency questions and preparing an example for every question. You might end up preparing for about 40 questions but it gives you confidence. 2/3 of the interviews are preparable so be sure to be fully prepared. I also believe the other 1/3 of the interviews are trainable, so don’t be put off if you fail, try it again and again until you get the trick (I know someone tried for two years before getting a BDO offer).

Wish you all good luck with the job hunting!


Rest assured that person would be marked down for interrupting you like that because it was quite unnecessary really. I honestly wouldn’t worry too much after all it was your first assessment centre and usually the feedback from the company is relatively detailed and they can give you good advice as to how to improve in group discussions.