EFFECTIVE GROUP DISCUSSIONS
The basic aim of the Group Discussion (GD) is to evaluate the effectiveness of the candidate in a group activity. This effectiveness is judged through the leadership qualities and the communication skills displayed by the candidate.
The group for the Group Discussion typically consists of anything between 8 to 15 people. Normally care is taken by the organizers to ensure that these people come from diverse backgrounds. This group is seated in a room in a semi circular or a U shaped manner. The candidates are provided with unique numbers (and nameplates in case of placement or Company Group Discussion). The candidates are expected to use these unique numbers while addressing each other during the course of Discussion. There will be around 2 to 3 Moderators who will be monitoring and judging the Group Discussion. They will be silent observers of the entire proceedings. They will intervene only in case of fights or heated arguments.
The topics given in group discussions can be basically classified into four categories.
Factual topics are about practical things, which an ordinary person is aware of in his day-to-day life. Typically these are about socio-economic topics. These can be current, i.e. they may have been in the news lately, or could be unbound by time. A factual topic for discussion gives a candidate a chance to prove that he is aware of and sensitive to his environment.
E.g. The education policy of India, Tourism in India, State of the aged in the nation.
Controversial topics are the ones that are argumentative in nature. They are meant to generate controversy. In GDs where these topics are given for discussion, the noise level is usually high, there may be tempers flying. The idea behind giving a topic like this is to see how much maturity the candidate is displaying by keeping his temper in check, by rationally and logically arguing his point of view without getting personal and emotional.
E.g. Reservations should be removed, Women make better managers.
Abstract topics are about intangible things. These topics are not given often for discussion, but their possibility cannot be ruled out. These topics test your lateral thinking and creativity.
E.g. A is an alphabet, Twinkle Twinkle little star, The number 10.
Another variation is the use of a case instead of a topic. The case study tries to simulate a real-life situation. Information about the situation will be given to you and you would be asked as a group to resolve the situation. In the case study there are no incorrect answers or perfect solutions. The objective in the case study is to get you to think about the situation from various angles.
Leading B-Schools like IIM A, IIM Indore and IIT SOM Mumbai have a case-based discussion rather than topic-based discussion in their selection procedures.
In some cases the group is assigned two or three topics that are of relevance in the political, economic, social or technological spheres. The process of Group Discussion starts with selection of topic. This stage explores the Consensus building of the group. This also presents an opportunity for the candidates to take the lead in deciding the topics and convince the group about choosing a particular topic. Alternatively the group is itself asked to choose a topic.
Here are some tips for performing well in a GD.
Tip 1 : Always prepare two or three good topics as this may come handy in the second scenario.
Normally the topics assigned are such that they test the depth of understanding of the candidate, analytical skills, ability to think independently and ability to articulate their thoughts.
No two individuals can think alike. Hence for a given topic there are bound to be as many viewpoints as the group size. Hence Group Discussion also tests the person's ability to appreciate other's viewpoints and take them in his/her stride.
The candidate should be assertive and ensure that she/he puts forth his point. However care has to be taken that this assertiveness does not get transformed into aggressiveness.
Tip 2 : Snatch a chance to express yourselves but in the process do not cut short anybody.
The candidate should demonstrate Leadership skills. This can be done in three ways:
Initiating the Discussion. This involves selecting the right topic ( by forming consensus of the group), interpreting the topic correctly ( this is very important as an erroneous interpretation amounts to misleading the group and will work against the candidate) and carrying the topic forward.
Carrying the group together by not allowing the high performers over shadow the non-performers. (This can be done by creating an opportunity for the candidate who has not spoken to express themselves)
Leadership doesn't mean bossing around but giving patient ear to dissenting views.
The group leader also should ensure that the group does not drift away from the main topic.
The most important quality that a manager possesses is his/her ability to communicate. As would be Managers, a candidate has to exhibit this quality. Communication has nothing to do with the language or the candidates command over it.
Communication is a two way process involving at least two entities. One is who sends out the Communication and the other is one who receives it. The aim of the Communication process is to ensure that the receiver understands what the giver has intended to communicate. This can be more effectively done by using simple, jargon free and lucid language. In case any technical (legal, technological, medical, environmental etc.) term has to be used, explain the same to the group.
Tip 3 : Avoid verbosity and wordiness. A good tactic to communicate yourselves effectively is to give examples. Don't use foreign words such as apriori, fait accompli, deja vu etc. Also do not use accent. This doesn't give you extra marks.
Analytical skills are also very important in a GD. For example if the discussion entails taking a stand for or against BJP's performance in handling Kashmir. Ensure that your arguments are backed by sound and logical reasoning and in-depth understanding of the situation. Make sure that your sentence flow is coherent in such a way that one idea automatically follows the other (do not make contradictory statements and bear this mind for the entire GD).
Tip 4: In case you are unable to speak on a particular topic, wait for the discussion to start. This will enable you to pick up the threads of the discussion and give more clarity on the subject. If you are still not confident, simply summarize the whole discussion.
As mentioned earlier Communication is a two way process. So it is as important to listen as to speak. Ensure that you listen to people and not just hear them. Also attempt to bring this to the Moderators notice. This can be done by quoting some candidate while putting across your point. (Adequate care should be taken to quote the candidate correctly)
Tip 5: Be attentive throughout the GD. If necessary note down certain points in the pad provided to you.
Communications is not only communicating with words but also through Body Language. You need to send out the right signals through your Body Language.
Tip 6: Show attentiveness by looking into the eyes of the speaker, by leaning forward which shows interest, address the group (neither the Moderator nor the individual).
Keep your voice audible (neither too loud nor too low) and friendly. Try to speak in a Conversational style. Your facial expressions should match with the emotions you are trying to put across.
Also, Dress Code should be Formal. Many moderators do not appreciate casual dressing.
A formally dressed male candidate is one who is wearing formals with a matching tie, black or brown leather shoes. (Canvas shoes or white leather shoes are classified as informals). Blazers are optional.
A formally dressed female candidate can wear a simple saree or a churidar kurta. A formal business suit will also serve the purpose.
Use little or no makeup. Use bare minimum accessories. If possible use a formal bag that goes well with your dress.
While entering the room walk straight and erect. Walk with a confident look. Wish the Moderator and the other candidates. Smile and make polite conversation.
Thank the moderators while walking out of the hall and never ask them to comment on your performance. Also do not show your anxiety about the results.
Inputs required for performing well in GDs:
1. Read newspapers, current affairs magazines and business magazines regularly.
2. Try and make your viewpoints on the various issues i.e. whether you agree or you disagree and why ? For example “Should India Go for war with Pakistan ?”. Discuss them with your friends or knowledgeable relatives.
3. Make notes or file newspaper clippings of the news items that you think are important especially on topics related to the discipline in which you intend to specialize
4. Read General knowledge books and keep yourself abreast of the latest happenings world over and more importantly India specific.
6. Never get tensed about GDs. Do not let this spoil you schedule which includes a good nights sleep.
( Normally the candidate is asked to report in the morning and the GD turn may come in the evening. Hence ensure that you are physically and mentally fit to survive the whole day and the GD.)
Wishing all the Guindians, an enterprising career !
thanks and regards