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Group Work & Team Presentations

29 September 2015 |

Many City careers involve employees having to regularly work in teams. This may be internally within their particular departments; internally within their firm but with a number of different departments that have a role on a different aspect of a deal (for instance the tax or regulatory implications of a transaction); with employees working within a different office within the global network of offices (if the firm is international); and/or with other types of firms. For instance, many transactions involve input from investment banks, law firms, accountancy firms, consultancy firms, regulators and institutional investors and these different industry players must coordinate effectively in order to successfully execute the transaction at hand.

Internships (and some assessment days) typically include a team-based exercise to test the way in which candidates interact with others on a mutual task. This could involve completing a creative task in a group, for instance building a Lego tower in line with specific instructions. It could involve researching and delivering a group presentation relating to the firm in general or a particular department. This may be structured as a pitch to a fictional client that focuses on the firm"s capabilities, its past experience, the challenges it is facing, the locations in which new offices should be opened, or even the way in which it can offer value for money to clients (perhaps addressing fee structures or value-adding services). Alternatively, group exercises could involve engaging in fictitious commercial negotiations (sometimes with more than 2 opposing sides) or discussing various investment options as a group before agreeing which one to pursue. These exercises may also be designed to test candidates" commercial awareness and knowledge of the firm.

Graduate recruiters are very perceptive and are likely to notice if the attitude of one or two candidates adversely impacts upon the team dynamic (even if this dynamic only surfaces when candidates are working together in private). Try to work well with team members. Encourage quieter team members to speak, be receptive of ideas (or constructively contribute to ideas you believe are less strong). You could try to link ideas together and draw on others" contributions, arrive at meetings on time and having completed your delegated work and above all, avoid being rude, overbearing or competitive. Candidates who are outwardly competitive are not generally looked upon favourably. Such an attitude can indicate that candidates will negatively impact upon the firm"s culture if they were to be offered a job. After all, these exercises are about collaboration, not competition!

Many presentations are followed by question and answer sessions. If you have worked on a presentation in a team, then make sure you know each other"s work and research inside out. You may be allowed to defer an answer to a colleague, but equally you may be expected to answer questions on your colleagues" work. If you are clearly familiar with each other"s input then this provides an indication to your assessors that you have worked effectively as a team.

You may also want to consider supplementing a presentation with a handout. This can enhance your presentation and make your group stand out, whilst also demonstrating creativity, effective teamwork and strong organisation. However, perhaps consider giving out the handout after your speech as it may otherwise distract those in the room from what you have to say.

Many graduate recruiters claim that there are enough jobs available for a majority of internship candidates if they are all good enough at the work and a strong enough fit for the firm. Acting competitively during group exercises is more likely to lose you an offer than help you to secure one!