The Group Discussion:
While work experience, academic record and scores in the competitive entrance test qualify you for an interview call, the final selection largely depends on your performance in the deciding rounds-GD-PI. However, most students fail to turn the GD-PI calls into admission calls. This is because the candidates do not know what the moderators /interviewers are looking for and how to prepare accordingly.
What to expect in a GD?
- Normally groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyze and discuss within a given time limit.
- The group may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem.
- The group may be given a topic and asked to discuss on the same.
- A panel will observe the proceedings and evaluate the members of the group.
One needs to know what one’s objective in the group is. A good definition of your objective is – to be noticed to have contributed meaningfully in an attempt to help the group reach the right consensus.
1. The first implication is that you should be NOTICED by the panel. Merely making a meaningful contribution and helping the group arrive at a consensus is not enough. You have to be seen by the evaluating panel to have made the meaningful contribution.
2. You must ensure that the group HEARS you. If the group hears you, so will the evaluator. That does not mean that you shout at the top of your voice and be noticed for the wrong reasons.
3. You have to be ASSERTIVE. If you are not a very assertive person, you will have to simply learn to be assertive for those 15 minutes. Remember, assertiveness does not mean being bull-headed or being arrogant.
4. You have to MAKE YOUR CHANCES. Many group discussion participants often complain that they did not get a chance to speak. The fact is that in no group discussion will you get a chance to speak. There is nothing more unacceptable in a GD than keeping one’s mouth shut or just murmuring things which are inaudible.
5. Your contribution has to be MEANINGFUL. A meaningful contribution suggests that:
- You have a good KNOWLEDGE base
- You are able to put forth your arguments LOGICALLY and are a GOOD COMMUNICATOR.
6. The QUALITY of what you said is more valuable than the quantity. You must have meat in your arguments. So think things through carefully before you present them.
7. Everybody else will state the obvious. So highlight some points that are not obvious. The different perspective that you bring to the group will be highly appreciated by the panel.
8. Some pointers on being relevant while having a different perspective are:
- Be careful that the “something different” you state is still relevant to the topic being debated.
- Can you take the group ahead if it is stuck at one point?
- Can you take it in a fresh and more relevant direction?
9. You must be clearly seen to be attempting to build a consensus. Nobody expects a group of ten intelligent, assertive people, all with different points of view on a controversial subject to actually achieve a consensus. But what matters is “Did you make attempts to build a consensus?”
The reason why an attempt to build a consensus is important is because in most work situations you will have to work with people in a team, accept joint responsibilities and take decisions as a group.
10. You must demonstrate the fact that you are capable and inclined to work as part of a team.
Must do’s in a G.D:
- Always enter the room with a piece of paper and a pen.
- In the first two minutes jot down as many ideas as you can.
When you jot down points, keep these pointers in mind.
If it is a topic where you are expected to take a stand, note down points for both sides of the argument. It will be useful on two counts –
- One, if you do not start the GD and are not amongst the first five speakers and find that everyone in the group is talking for the topic, then it makes sense to take the alternate approach and oppose the topic even if you initially intended to talk for the topic.
- Second, it helps to have knowledge of how group members who take a stand diametrically opposite to yours will put forth their argument and to be prepared with counter arguments.
Some GD topics that have appeared in the past years:
- Advertising is legalized lying-IIM Lucknow
- Tabs will soon replace libraries-NMIMS
- Is MBA a must to be successful as a manager? -JBIMS
- Should the content of social sites be pre-scrutinized or checked afterwards?-IIM Shillong
- Social Networking sites are a waste of time for the youth-XLRI
- Government jobs provide no job satisfaction-Faculty of Management studies
- Design a social networking platform for the year 2025. Discuss 5 major features it will have. Come up with an innovative name and design for its wall-MICA (Group Exercise topic instead of GD)
Some of the other general topics mostly discussed are:
- Women make better bosses than men
- Management education is a luxury for a poor country like India
- Engineers joining management is a national waste
- Liberalization is leading to jobless growth
- Greed is good
- Deep blue is not blue enough
While most B-schools give you economic, political, abstract, sports and concrete topics to discuss upon, the trend of giving case studies is also equally preferred.
Some of the case studies topics asked in the previous years are:
- A girl goes to a live in a community to learn about how they lead their lives. As a sign of integration in the community, she has to accept stolen goods. To be one among them she is forced to make an ethical decision.
- Case Study on Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- Student Council starts a stationery store within campus to benefit students. They purchase at wholesale prices and sell at rates cheaper than outside market. They gain handsome 10% profit margin. They plan to take up loan and expand services to nearby area too. However, few days later they face opposition from a group of students, claiming that the council have greater interests and are corrupt. What should the student council do?
- A new comer in a company struggles to mingle with oldies who are not serious about their job/ day-to-day work. Conflict between the two was given.
- A company has 3 products in juices category. One of the products is making losses while the same type of product is making profit for a rival company. Advice the company about the same.
ü Remember, although some GD topics remain to be the favorite of most B-schools GD panel, do not expect them to be repeated. Even if you get a repeated topic, think to give a fresh perspective to the issue to receive the appreciation of the panel. The golden rule is: Comprehend before making any contribution. Understand the topic, analyze the what, how where, why and other details and make meaningful logical arguments!
ü Your personality is also being evaluated. Your verbal and non verbal cues are being read.
ü Remember, you are the participant in the GD; not the evaluator. So, rather than evaluating others and your performance, participate in the discussion.
ü Your confidence level is being evaluated. Decent communication skills with good confidence are a must to crack the GD’s.
ü Focus on your strengths and do not spend too much time thinking about how others are superior or inferior to you. It is easy to pick up these cues from your body language.
ü Participate in as many practice GDs as possible before you attend the actual GD. There is nothing like practice to help you overcome the fear of talking in a GD.
Common Myths that B-school aspirants have about GD’s:
Myth 1: Smooth talkers perform better
Reality: You can perform better if you talk sense and there is sufficient meat in what you say.
Myth 2: Academic brilliance equals analytical skills
Reality: Sometimes candidates with lower academic scores can demonstrate better analytical skills
Myth 3: Good communication skills is about using extensive vocabulary and speaking too much
Reality: Good communication is about speaking appropriately in easy to understand English and putting your points across in a simple yet effective manner.
Myth 4: Candidates who dominate a discussion and reduce others to submission do well in GD’s.
Reality: Candidates who work with the group and accommodate diverse viewpoints and assert themselves score high.
Common Mistakes at a GD:
- Emotional outburst.
- Deviating from the subject.
- Treat the discussion as a forum to air the candidate’s own views.
- Lose objectivity and make personal attacks.
- Demotivating the rest of the team.
Quantity is more than the Quality of argument put up
- Trying to dominating and not play as a team member.
- Irrelevant contribution.
- Egotism Showing off.
- Facts and figures need not validate all your statements.
- Getting noticed for the wrong reasons.
- False starts are extremely expensive. They cost you your admission. It is very important to listen and understand the topic before you air your opinions.
- Some mistakes are irreparable. Starting off the group discussion with a mistake is one such mistake, unless you have a great sense of humor.
- Unable to managing one’s insecurities.
All The Best for your GD!
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