Ravi and Dhruv are two great friends who have been preparing for MBA entrance examinations. Ravi and Dhruv are neighbours, and while Ravi is an engineer, Dhruv has graduated as a Bachelor of Business Administration. Both aspire to get into a prestigious B-school in India, and they have been working very hard to crack the MBA entrance examinations. While Dhruv seeks professional guidance for securing admissions into a prestigious B-school, Ravi plans to study by himself and get in too. But Ravi has no idea about the group exercises for MBA, and Dhruv plans to enlighten him about it. The following is the conversation that takes place between them:
Dhruv: So, how are your preparations going?
Ravi: Very well, I have been scoring very good marks in the mock examinations. How about you?
Dhruv: Oh, my preparations are going great; even I have been scoring well on practice examinations. Say, by any chance, do you know about the group exercises and management games for MBA aspirants?
Ravi: Well, now that you mention it, I have heard about it, but I am very confused as to what they really are.
Dhruv: See, this is exactly why I wanted to meet you. I wanted to tell you what they are and give you some tips for prepare for group exercises for MBA aspirants. Last week, we attempted a few mock group tasks at the guidance institute.
Ravi: Can you give me a few examples of group exercises for MBA? What are the most common group task topics?
Like Ravi, there are many students who have no idea what to expect and what to do during group exercises. Most students have no idea what the interviewers are looking for during group exercise, and they just focus on completing the tasks.
Group exercises for MBA – an overview
A group task or a group exercise for MBA aspirants is an effective evaluation of the psychological aspects of the candidates. Group exercises help the examiners understand how the candidates behave when they are alone as compared to when they are in a group. In most group tasks or group exercises, a predefined number of individuals have to perform a predefined task. The important part of the group task is that it must be performed in compliance with the restrictions that are imposed. One of the most important things in the group tasks or group exercises is to identify the inherent problem with the task.
Why are the group exercises conducted?
Most top B-schools employ group tasks and group exercises to test different capabilities of a person. The group tests and group exercises for MBA aspirants are designed in such a manner that they help evaluate various skills of an individual. Sometimes, business simulated exercises are employed to test the aspirant’s performance in real-life situations. There are many essential skills that the interviewers look for in the aspirants when they seek to get admitted into top B-schools, for example:
Leadership skills, negotiation skills, organising skills, reasoning skills, team spirit, decision-making skills, and confidence.
The following are some other skills that can help you in getting selected during group tasks:
Ability to take the initiative, ability to cooperate with other team members, determination and perseverance, Attitude, ability to persuade others, motivation, and assertiveness.
Different kinds of group exercise for MBA
Depending upon the testing requirements and the resources that are at the disposal of the interviewers, they may give different kinds of group tasks and group exercises for MBA aspirants. Most common group tasks involve indoor practical tasks, outdoor practical tasks, role plays, case studies, creating proposals, and performing impromptu skits. Different kinds of group exercises for MBA aspirants are employed to evaluate different qualities in the aspirants. Here are some group task examples:
The interviewer blindfolds a group of eight students and gives them a long continuous rope. He then asks the students to arrange themselves to form an eight-pointed star in a given time frame.
Now, this may sound like an easy task at first, but one must remember that the students in the group do not know each other. Hence, it would be much more difficult for the students to communicate with each other effectively. In such a task, the key to finding the solution is an effective solution. First, the students have to brainstorm and come up with probable solutions. Then, the students have to decide which of the solutions seem the most feasible and which ones they should actually try.
Once, they have decided as to which solution they want to try, each student can select a number which corresponds to the number of the corner where they should stand. One of the group members can volunteer to give oral instructions to all the other students, which they must follow in order to complete the task. One of the possible solutions is that the students arrange themselves in a small circle. Then one after the other, each student criss-cross each other until then form an eight-pointed star.
The interviewers blindfold a group of students and give them a rope. The interviewer then asks the students to arrange themselves to form a square.
The students may accomplish this task using similar strategies using which the blindfolded students formed an eight-pointed star. However, instead of crisscrossing each other, they can just make pairs and take a few steps back as far as the rope permits. If the students all take small steps, they are likely to make a shape which will resemble a square. However, the accuracy of the square depends upon the variation in the length of the steps that the students take.
The interviewers keep a box full of marbles at one end of the room and a bucket at the other end of the room. The interviewers then give the candidates half-split hallowed bamboo sticks and stand shoulder to shoulder. The game requires students to move the marbles from the box to the bucket, using only the bamboo sticks to move them. The rules forbid the students from walking while they are holding the marbles. The students can make a chain and keep changing positions to increase the length of the chain till they reach the bucket. If they drop the anywhere midway, they will have to start over.
There is no special trick here to solve the game. It is simply a test of the teamwork and coordination between group members. As the aim is to transfer the maximum number of marbles, it is the efficiency of the group that will matter. Minute aspects come into play. For example,
- Controlling the speed of the marble by tilting the bamboo stick accordingly.
- Ensuring that each group member runs ahead promptly after passing the marble so as to continue the chain
- Covering a greater distance by standing with your legs spread out, and thereby enhancing balance as well.
The group is provided with some basic craft material (paper, glue, scissors, etc.) The interviewer then asks the students to make a product using the materials. Usually, there is a special instruction, such as “make something that is useful for your hostel stay’. After making the product, the group has to pitch it to the panel. The total time for doing the task is usually not more than 15-20 minutes.
The panellists are not expecting excellent craftsmanship. This task is set to specifically test creativity. Candidates usually end up restricting their thinking after seeing the material. For example, making paper bags as paper is the main material. However, one can think of more creative products:
- A special calendar/timetable for the course, as well as hobbies such as dates of football matches, etc. One does not have to make the entire calendar; an elegant sample for just one month will suffice.
- Tearing the paper to smaller pieces for making a scribble pad/notepad. Each page can have a funny or inspiring quote at the top or bottom. Again, one does not need to make the entire pad, just a few sample pages.
The interviewers give the students a case study about a business school. The interviewers then ask the students to identify the changes which they would make in the curriculum, the examinations, and the evaluation methods to prepare the students for the industry in a better manner.
The students can first quickly study the case while noting down the important aspects that the case study covers. Then, the students should begin discussing what are the important points which keep the industry from absorbing the students. The students can also make a note of the points upon which everyone agrees. This way, they can come up with the results quickly. The group should give all the students a chance to every member of the group to present their perspective, and then critically analyse all the perspectives. The interviewers judge the students based on the skills that they display during the group exercise. The interviewers don’t judge the students only on the basis of whether or not they complete the task.
These are just some group task interview examples, which give an idea about the design of the group tasks. When performing group tasks, it is important to understand the rationale behind the group task. Just performing for the sake of completing the task only reduces the chances of selection of that candidate. For selection through the group task, it is not important whether the group wins or loses. It is necessary for the candidates to display a certain set of skills.
The group exercises for MBA test the aspirants’ leadership skills, their ability to handle pressure and to form and work in teams. The newer management practices focus more and teamwork. Hence, it is essential for the candidates to be able to work as a part of the team. The group exercise for MBA aspirants is designed to simulate real-life dilemmas that the managers face.