Smith & Williamson’s assessment centre: tips for the group exercise

The assessment centre is designed for you to see and learn more about the firm as well as for its recruiters to test you.
The importance of joining in cannot be overstated

Morning session

You, along with approximately 17 other candidates, will be invited in to the London office and will have the opportunity to meet with current trainees over lunch. For those applying to tax and accountancy there will be a presentation from one of the partners. At the assessment centre you will be asked to re-take the verbal and numerical tests, and, after lunch, will find out if you’ve passed, which will mean you’ll stay for the afternoon session.

Afternoon session: case study and group exercise

The afternoon session consists of an individual written exercise and a group exercise. You’ll be given all the information you need on the day so you can’t really prepare for the specifics, but it will help if you’ve done your research on Smith & Williamson beforehand and can therefore demonstrate during the written exercise that you’re familiar with the services the firm offers.

For the group exercise, you’ll be placed into a smaller group with some of the other candidates where you’ll be given information and expected to work together on a proposal. We asked Sarah Donoghue, Graduate Recruitment Officer at the firm, for her advice to graduates on how to make a success of the group exercise:

  • Participate – this may sound obvious, but the importance of joining in cannot be overstated. The assessors can only observe your strengths and skills if you demonstrate them during the exercise – they have nothing to mark if you don’t say or do anything.
  • Be inclusive of the other group members, which will show that you can work as part of a team – you can do this by asking questions and challenging others appropriately (and politely!).
  • Make logical suggestions and be prepared to support your comments with reasons – this will demonstrate to recruiters that you enjoy problem solving and coming up with solutions.
  • Be prepared to get involved in planning and timekeeping, which will show off your organisational skills – remind yourself of the roles you naturally take in group situations and try and adapt yourself to those.
  • Be enthusiastic. Your attitude in this exercise and throughout the assessment day will easily be picked up on by the assessors. If you don’t look as if you’re interested, how will recruiters be persuaded that you want to join their firm?
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