Preparing for a new EPSO job opportunity is one of those life-events that can be incredibly exciting and completely nerve-racking at the same time. And, when the Epso Assessment Centre company introduces another step into the interviewing process, such as the EPSO group exercise, knowing exactly what to do can make the difference between snatching your dream job and having to look elsewhere. No worries though, we are here to show you exactly how to do brilliantly!
What Is the EPSO Group Exercise?
The EPSO group exercise, also known as a role play exercise, is added to the Assessment Centre process to help EPSO gain a better understanding of who you are and how your work ethic would fit into the organization’s profile. They assess abilities such as Analysis and Problem solving, Learning and Development, Prioritising and Organising, Resilience, Working with Others, and Leadership. This exercise will be held with several candidates participating in a scenario.
This exercise is divided into two sections: preparation and the actual interaction with around six participants. Here, you will be given a unique brief that contains information on a particular European subject that is related to your application. It will be approximately fifteen to twenty pages long that will be in the form of mail messages, reports, meeting minutes, and details of the other participant’s briefs. You have 15 minutes to go through the information in the brief and the actual interaction goes on for 50 minutes. This interaction is done in the presence of the assessors. From here, you will be asked to prepare a recommendation or a solution on a particular problem as reflected on the data given.
What to Know Beforehand
In order to showcase your brilliant self, before taking part in the EPSO Group exercise, you should know that the scenarios will correspond to the professional role you are being interviewed for. So, if you have experience at a similar position, it is likely that you would have encountered a situation like that before. Remember that the interviewers won’t expect anything unusual or alien of you – all they need to know is how you would normally react if you were to find yourself in a tricky situation.
Furthermore, as with the nature of the exercise, you will have to answer as a group. So it is important to remember that this is not about fighting against other candidates. Rather, it should showcase how well you work with others just as when you are at the actual job.
Candidates are not judged and evaluated on the final proposal they come up with. Rather, they are assessed on the team’s discussion process, how each of you interact with your peers and how you collectively get to that final outcome.
Also, in the brief provided, it is important to know that the documents are identical for each participant except for the last page. Here, the brief outlines a participant’s specific stakeholder’s position in relation to the issue presented in the exercise. But before you go ahead and try to exert your given position, always remember the nature of this exercise. The candidates are your colleagues in this simulation, thus, you are expected to remain loyal employees working collectively to reach a goal in the interest of the EU commission, institution, or the public.
How to Do an Excellent Job
Although EPSO has its own set of scenarios for the group exercise there are certain general rules you can apply in order to go through the experience successfully. Follow the advice below and you will likely pass your role play exercise with flying colors!
Before starting the EPSO group exercise you will be given a short scenario to read. It usually includes your role within one of the European Institutions, a situation you need to deal with and a time frame. Make sure you read and assess every word very carefully, so as to not miss any important details.
Decide what you’d like to achieve
Are you a Head of Unit who has to deal with a hot EU topic? Do you work as part of a team that has to tackle a time-sensitive project? Think about your role and what you would strive to achieve if you experienced this situation in real life. Being goal-oriented always makes a great impression!
Devise a plan
You will have time to prepare before the exercise begins, so use it wisely and devise an action plan. It is crucial to be flexible, as you don’t know how the other participants may act, so you need to change your behavior accordingly.
The clichéd phrase “Practice makes perfect” is actually applicable here – the more you practice the less nervous you will feel during the exercise.
Ask open-ended questions
More often than not, essential information is omitted from the brief you are given. That is why one of your tasks is to clarify the situation. You can do that by asking open-ended questions such as: “please tell me more about…” “could you please elaborate on…” “please describe…”
Keep in mind that your goal is to portray your actions in the fictional scenario as realistically as possible. So, try to jump into character as soon as you see the other participants. Concentrate on the role, rather than on feelings of discomfort or awkwardness. Act as natural, open and positive as you would in real life and chances are you will really impress the interviewers!
Stay calm and positive
This is certainly easier said than done, but it is a role play essential. Feeling jittery and nervous is natural when your character and abilities are being tested, but remember that nerves can only sabotage your performance. In order to stay calm, try applying quick breathing techniques before the exercise and during preparation. Equal breathing, for instance, is a reliable option. Smiling, employing a positive tone of voice and a positive body language can also go a long way. Even if you don’t do as well as another candidate, if you have been upbeat and inviting, chances are the interviewers will be left with a favorable impression of you.
Some Additional Yet Necessary Tips on Managing a Dominant Member
With all the tips that are probably out there when it comes to taking this test, there is probably one that is often left out yet is very necessary. That is what to do when you have a member on your team that is dominant and monopolizing the entire exercise.
No practical tips and tricks could prepare you for dealing with other people, especially one who could make or break the team. So in this particular section, we have prepared some tips that address this, helping not only you but also the rest of your team keep the integrity of the exercise’s goal, which is teamwork.
It also helps to remember that when one person hijacks the exercise, assessors will then have far less time to evaluate you and the rest of the team member’s performance. The result can only be unimaginable.
Likewise, the skill to remain level-headed in situations like this will not help you in EPSO competitions. This is undeniably an important skill when it comes to the actual job, where you are thrust into an environment with people you don’t know and whose personalities could collide with yours.
Nonetheless, you should never let one person bring the whole group down. So let us cut to the chase and get on with the tips below:
Setting Some Ground Rules
Before going straight into the task, it is important that your group set some ground rules first. After all, prevention is always better. During assessment day, make sure that you get familiarize with your team members and their personality types. Talk with each of them and try to come up, as a group, an agreement to function as a group. With this conversation, you make sure that those who tend to be dominant are reminded and even warned not to monopolise the exercise. Likewise, those who are naturally shy will not be caught off-guard.
Don’t Rely on the Assessors
During the group exercises, there will be four assessors in the room tasked to observe the group and only that. That means they will not take part in the simulation; they are simply bystanders who will watch how you work together. So always keep in mind that no assessor can help you keep a dominant member in their place. You, as a group, will have to take the reins and remind each other when not to step the line. It is also a great thing if you can show that you are able to handle this very common situation in the working environment.
Keep Yourself In Check
While looking out for a dominant member is important, it is also necessary that you also keep yourself in check. Sometimes, it can be difficult not to get overwhelmed by our emotions and get carried away in the heat of the moment. Always remind yourself not to lose it in the process of taming down a dominant member. Remember, body language reveals a lot. You don’t have to resort to being rude or overbearing, or else, you will just be mimicking that person yourself.
Be Aware of Other Members
As said many times, this is a GROUP exercise. You must therefore not leave anyone out in the team. A dominant member can often keep you from minding other people. As you are busy checking in on that member, always remember that there are other members of the team. Do not leave them hanging. Keep an eye out for them and see if they want to speak. Look into their body language. Take notes and lead the conversation over to them.
Strategize a Course of Action
In any group gathering, we can’t avoid times where conversations become awkward and stagnant. However, you must remind yourself that you are in an important competition, and it is no time to be these things. So in order to avoid these moments, propose a procedural approach to get the dialogue going. This also splits the time properly for everyone to speak and not have a dominant member take over the exercise.
On Handling Interruptions
When a particular member has been noticeably going far too long than necessary, interruptions can be the best course of action. Nonetheless, you have to take notice not to be rude in the process. Continue being polite and ask kindly to let other members for their input.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Even if it can be so easy to be annoyed by a dominant member, never forget to give credit where it is due. Give credit to their contributions from time to time so they feel like they are being heard. This not only keeps the team together, it also empowers the members. Rather than having a member mope on the side because they feel like an outcast, create an environment that is unifying.
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