All employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work in teams. As less hierarchical organisations have emerged with project teams, self-managed work teams and management teams, so the requirements to 'Get on well with people', and to 'Work with and through others' become increasingly important.

Teamwork involves working confidently within a group, contributing your own ideas effectively, taking a share of the responsibility, being assertive - rather than passive or aggressive, accepting and learning from constructive criticism and giving positive, constructive feedback to others.

Exercise on teamworking skills.

The questionnaire which follows should help you to analyse the workings of a group and should help you to reach some tentative conclusions about your role in a team. For this exercise you will need to think of teams of which you are or were a part. These could be project groups for your course, seminar groups, sports teams, societies or clubs in which you were involved, vacation jobs in which you were part of a team, or even perhaps when you were sharing a house with a group of students.

Try to answer the 28 questions as honestly as you can. Click on "First Question" to begin. Please try to answer ALL the questions. You can go back to questions to change your answers by clicking on the previous question button.







Your score

Your score can be from 0 to a maximum of 12 on each of seven group roles. Make a note of your scores or print out the page and then see below to find out what these roles involve.


The roles people play in meetings.

There are a number of different roles that people adopt in meetings, some of which are listed below. These roles are not always constant - one person might adopt several of these roles during one meeting or change roles depending on what is being discussed. Your score for each category should give you some idea of which of these roles you play in teams.


Energises groups when motivation is low through humour or through being enthusiastic. They are positive individuals who support and praise other group members. They don't like sitting around. They like to move things along by suggesting ideas, by clarifying the ideas of others and by confronting problems. They may use humour to break tensions in the group.

They may say:
"We CAN do this!"
"That's a great idea!"


Destructive or selfish group roles to avoid!

  • Autocrat: tries to dominate or constantly interrupt other members of the team.
  • Show Off: talks all the time and thinks they know all the answers.
  • Butterfly: keeps changing the topic before others are ready.
  • Aggressor: doesn't show respect to others, comments negatively about them.
  • Avoider: refuses to focus on the task or on group relationship problems.
  • Critic: always sees the negative side to any argument, but never suggests alternatives. Puts down the ideas of others.
  • Help seeker: looks for sympathy from others: victim
  • Self-confessor: uses the group as a forum for inappropriate talk about self.
  • Clown: shows no involvement in group and engages in distracting communication.

A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.

Fred Allen

Meetings in UK offices account for 40 million working hours per week, with 7.5 million deemed a waste of time.

Tries to maintain harmony among the team members. They are sociable, interested in others and will introduce people, draw them out and make them feel comfortable. They may be willing to change their own views to get a group decision. They work well with different people and can be depended on to promote a positive atmosphere, helping the team to gel. They pull people and tasks together thereby developing rapport. They are tolerant individuals and good listeners who will listen carefully to the views of other group members. They are good judges of people, diplomatic and sensitive to the feelings of others and not seen as a threat. They are able to recognise and resolve differences of opinion and the the development of conflict, they enable "difficult" team-members to contribute positively.
They may say:
"We haven't heard from Mike yet: I'd like to hear what you think about this."
"I'm not sure I agree. What are your reasons for saying that?"


Good leaders direct the sequence of steps the group takes and keep the group "on-track". They are good at controlling people and events and coordinating resources. They have the energy, determination and initiative to overcome obstacles and bring competitive drive to the team. They give shape to the team effort. They recognise the skills of each individual and how they can be used. Leaders are outgoing individuals who have to be careful not to be domineering. They can sometimes steamroller the team but get results quickly. They may become impatient with complacency and lack of progress and may sometimes overreact. Also see our leadership styles test.

They may say
"Let's come back to this later if we have time."
"We need to move on to the next step."
"Sue, what do you think about this idea?"


Calm, reflective individuals who summarise the group's discussion and conclusions. They clarify group objectives and elaborate on the ideas of others. They may go into detail about how the group's plans would work and tie up loose ends. They are good mediators and seek consensus.

They may say:
"So here's what we've decided so far"
"I think you're right, but we could also add ...."

The “Top Ten” Skills shortages among graduates

% of employers surveyed
1 Commercial Awareness      67%
2 Communication Skills 64%
3 Leadership 33%
4 Ability to work in a team 33%
5 Problem solving 32%
6 Conceptual ability 21%
7 Subject Knowledge & competence 19%
8 Foreign languages     19%
9 Numeracy 19%
10 Good general education 15%

Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters “Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century”


The ideas person suggests new ideas to solve group problems or suggests new ways for the group to organize the task. They dislike orthodoxy and are not too concerned with practicalities. They provide suggestions and proposals that are often original and radical. They are more concerned with the big picture than with details. They may get bored after the initial impetus wears off. See our lateral thinking skills page

They may say
"Why don't we consider doing it this way?"


Evaluators help the group to avoid coming to agreement too quickly. They tend to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over. They are the logical, analytical, objective people in the team and offer measured, dispassionate critical analysis. They contribute at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. They may suggest alternative ideas.

They may say:
"What other possibilities are there?"
or "Let's try to look at this another way."
or "I'm not sure we're on the right track."


The recorder keeps the group focused and organised. They make sure that everyone is helping with the project. They are usually the first person to offer to take notes to keep a record of ideas and decisions. They also like to act as time-keeper, to allocate times to specific tasks and remind the team to keep to them, or act as a spokesperson, to deliver the ideas and findings of the group. They may check that all members understand and agree on plans and actions and know their roles and responsibilities. They act as the memory of the group.

They may say:
"We only have five minutes left, so we need to come to agreement now!"
"Do we all understand this chart?"
"Are we all in agreement on this?"


What makes an effective team?

What makes an ineffective team


After all is said and done, more is said than done.


Tips for group work exercises in selection centres.

  • Committee: a group of people that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
  • Committee: Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.
  • If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it. (Charles Kettering)
  • Diplomacy: the art of letting someone have your own way.
  • Conference: The confusion of one person multiplied by the number present.
  • Conference Room: A place where everybody talks, nobody listens & everybody disagrees.
  • Lecture: The art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without passing through the minds of either.
  • Real work is done outside meetings, not in them!
  • After all is said and done, more is usually said than done.

If you are invited to a selection centre as part of the interview process, it's very likely that you will have a group task, such as a case study, where your performance in the group will be assessed. Here are some tips to help you to perform well. For more on assessment centres see our page on this.

Group exercises Kent students have been asked to undertake at selection centres


Tips and comments from Kent students:

You can also benefit by asking yourself some other questions:

You might like to use the following headings to make notes or, the contributions of particular group members.

Observer assessment form for group exercises

Here are the sort of criteria on which your contributions to a group exercise at a selection centre might be assessed. You might like to use them to make notes on the contributions of particular group members.


  • Participates enthusiastically in discussion.
  • Actively influences events rather than passively accepting.
  • Acts on opportunities: originates action.

Spoken Expression

  • Expresses his/herself clearly and coherently.
  • Makes a clear persuasive presentation of ideas and facts

Originality of Ideas

  • Introduces new ideas.
  • Builds constructively an the ideas of others.
  • Brings a fresh approach to a problem.

Quality of Thought

  • Analyses the problem well.
  • Gets to the root of the problem: can recognise which information is important and which is peripheral.
  • Can evaluate data and courses of action, draw sound inferences and reach logical decisions.

Influence on Others

  • Makes a point which is accepted by the other members.
  • Influences the direction and nature of the discussion.

Open Mindedness

  • Listens to carefully to other members' views.
  • Incorporates the points made by others into their own.
  • Shows tact and diplomacy

Facilitation of the Discussion

  • Makes a direct attempt to help another person.
  • Squashes a dominant interrupter to allow someone else to make a point.


  • Discriminates clearly between the important and the trivial.
  • Does not allow his/her feelings to sway decisions: unbiased and rational.


Links to related pages


There was once a team of four individuals called respectively: Everyone, Someone, Anyone and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.
Anyone could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Someone got angry about this, because it was Everyone’s job.
Everyone thought Anyone could do it, but Nobody realised that Everyone wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everyone blamed Someone when Nobody did what Anyone could have done.