A group discussion (GD) is a simulated exercise, where you cannot suddenly put up a show, since the evaluators will see through you easily. In this page you can find tips on GD and how to handle them to ensure a positive outcome.
Here's how most group discussions work
A panel will observe the proceedings and evaluate the members of the group.
- 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.
Lets start from the basic. 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. What does this essentially mean?
Note : Always enter the room with a piece of paper and a pen. In the first two minutes write down as many ideas as you can.
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. What does that mean in practice?
- 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.
- 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.
- And most importantly, 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.
- 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.
- The second important implication is that making just any sort of contribution is not enough. 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.
- The quality of what you said is more valuable than the quantity. There is this myth amongst many group discussion participants that the way to succeed in a group discussion is by speaking loudly and at great length. One could not be more wrong. You must have meat in your arguments.
Therefore, think things through carefully.
When you jot down points, keep these pointers in mind.
If it is a topic where you are expected to take a stand, say for example, "Should India sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?" 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 a 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.
- 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 apprecaited by the panel. 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?
- The last implication is that you must be clearly seen to be attempting to build a consensus.
- Gaining support or influencing colleagues is the mantra adopted by many a successful Business Leaders.
- 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.
- You must demonstrate the fact that you are capable and inclined to work as part of a team.