A GD is a methodology used byan organization to gauge Whetherthe candidate has certainpersonality traits and/or skills thatit desires in its members.
1. Team Player The reason: Managers always work in teams. At the beginning of each person’s career, everybody works as a team member. And, later, as a team leader. Management aspirants who lack team skills cannot be good managers.
2. Reasoning Ability Reasoning ability plays an important role while expressing your opinions or ideas at a GD. For example, an opinion like Reduction in IIMs fees will affect quality can be better stated by demonstrating your reasoning ability and completing the missing links between fees and quality as: Reduction in IIMs fees will result in less funds being invested on study material, student exchange programmes, research, student development activities, etc. Moreover, it costs money to attract good faculty, create good infrastructure and upgrade technology. With reduction in fees, less money will be available to perform these ,activities which will lead to deterioration in the quality of IIMs.
3. LeadershipThere are three types of situations that can arise in a GD: participants are unable to establish a proper rapport and do not speak much. participants get emotionally charged and the GD gets chaotic. participants discuss the topic assertively by touching on all its nuances and try to reach the objective. Here, a leader would be someone who facilitates the third situation at a GD.
So a leader should have the following qualities: shows direction to the group whenever group moves away from the topic. coordinates the effort of the different team members in the GD. contributes to the GD at regular intervals with valuable insights. inspires and motivates team members to express their views.
4. Flexibility You must be open to other ideas as well as to the evaluation of your ideas: That is what flexibility is all about. Eg.,if the topic of a GD is, Should India go to war with Pakistan? Some participants tend to get emotionally attached to the topic and take a stand either in favour or against the topic, ie Yes, India should, or, No, India should not. By taking a stand, you have already given your decision without discussing the topic at hand or listening to the views of your team members. Also, if you encounter an opposition with a very strong point at the 11th hour, you end up in a awkward situation: If you change your stand, you are seen as a fickle-minded or a whimsical person. If you do not change your stand, you are seen as an inflexible, stubborn and obstinate person.
5. Assertiveness You must put forth your point to the group in a very emphatic, positive and confident manner.
Participants often confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is all about forcing your point on the other person, and can be a threat to the group. An aggressive person can also demonstrate negative body language, whereas an assertive person displays positive body language.
6. Initiative A general trend amongst students is to start a GD and get the initial kitty of points earmarked for the initiator. But that is a high risk-high return strategy. Initiate a GD only if you are well versed with the topic. If you start and fail to contribute at regular intervals, it gives the impression that you started the GD just for the sake of the initial points. Also, if you fumble, stammer or misquote facts, it may work against you.
7. Creativity/ Out of the box thinking An idea or a perspective which opens new horizons for discussion on the GD topic is always highly appreciated. When you put across a new idea convincingly, such that it is discussed at length by the group, it can only be positive.You will find yourself in the good books of the examiner.
8. Inspiring ability A good group discussion should incorporate views of all the team members. If some team members want to express their ideas but are not getting the opportunity to do so, giving them an opportunity to express their ideas or opinions will be seen as a positive trait. Caution: If a participant is not willing to speak, you need not necessarily go out of the way to ask him to express his views. This may insult him and hamper the flow of the GD.
9. Listening Always try and strike a proper balance between expressing your ideas and imbibing ideas.
10. Awareness You must be well versed with both the micro and macro environment. Your awareness about your environment helps a lot in your GD content, which carries maximum weightage.
TYPES OF GD GDs can be topic-based or case-based. Topic based Gds can be classified into three types :- 1. Factual Topics 2. Controversial Topics 3. Abstract Topics
Factual Topics:- 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 TopicsControversial 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 TopicsAbstract 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
Case-based GDThe 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. Normally this type will be used by management institutes
What is the normal duration of a GD?A GD is generally of 15-20 minutes duration.
How many panel members are there toevaluate?There are usually 3-4 panel members to evaluate.
Is there time given for preparation after the topicis given and before starting the GD? Usually some time (2-5 minutes) is given to collect ones thoughts, but there could be instances when this does not happen, so it is best not to bank on this.
Should I address the panel or the groupmembers? Dont ever make the mistake of addressing the panel members. The GD is between you and the other members, not the panel members. You must avoid even looking at the panel members while the GD is in progress. Just ignore their existence.
What is the seating arrangement like? It could be semi-circular, or circular, or seating along side a rectangular table, depending upon the venue. It is best not to bother about trivial issues like this, which you have no control over.
How should I address the other groupmembers? If you are initiating the discussion, you could do so by collectively addressing the group as "Friends". Subsequently, you could use names (if the group has had a round of self- introduction prior to starting the discussion and you remember the names) or simply use pronouns like "he" or "she".
Suppose I have a lot to say on the topic, shouldI say all of it? You would not be looked upon favourably if you kept speaking all the time and did not listen to anyone else. Contrary to the misconception, the person who talks the most is not necessarily the one who is judged the best. The quality and not the quantity of your contribution is the success factor.
Should I encourage others to speakup? Do not directly put someone who is consistently silent on the spot by asking him/her to speak up. If the person don’t open up you will be in a critical situation. But If someone has been trying to speak and has a good point but is cut off constantly, you may encourage him/her to continue with her point as you would like to hear her out.
Are the group members supposed to keep trackof the time or will the panel keep track? It would be good if you are conscious of the time, but not to the point of getting so distracted looking at your watch that you do not contribute to the discussion.
Are we allowed to carry a piece of paper duringthe GD for noting down important points? Normally you are, but there may be instances when it is specifically forbidden to carry paper.
Is there any particular seating arrangement,which is favourable to the participants? Ifparticipants are asked to sit in a circle or a semi circle, one position is as good as another. But if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table, then choose a position as close to the centre as possible.
Should we begin the GD by appointing aleader amongst ourselves? No. You should not. Leadership in a GD is established implicitly through ones performance in a GD.
Should we distribute the total time available toall the participants to ensure that everybodygets a chance to speak? Since a GD is not a debate or elocution, the participants should not resort to the strategy of distributing time amongst themselves.
Can we take a definite stand in the GD and thenlater on during the GD, switch over to anotherstand? Yes, provided you do it the right way. In a GD it is quite likely that some other participants counter- argument convinces you to your point. If this happens, then it is best if you accept his argument and explain to the group how your previous argument was true within a narrow range, and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range. Naturally, it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against a topic before you learn the facts of the argument. Blindly taking a stand will definitely lead you to trouble. This does not mean you should sit on the fence. You may participate actively by pointing out both sides of the issue in a reasonable and logical manner.
If we do not understand the meaning of thetopic, should we ask the moderator to explain itto us? No. You cannot. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner, it is better to wait for some other participant to explain the meaning of the topic. So listen to the discussion carefully for the first few minutes and when you have figured out what the topic is about, start participating in the discussion.
Are we expected to stick to the normallyaccepted line of thought or can we come upwith something radical? By all means you can. It would demonstrate your creativity and originality. Just make sure it is relevant to the topic.
If I feel strongly about an issue, should Ivoice my feelings? It is important to be cool and emotionally objective in a GD. If you react emotionally you are likely to lose control over yourself during the group discussion. You have to be calm and logical, not emotional in a GD.
Can I use technical terms or jargon, whichis clear to me, but not to the group? Ifyou have to use technical terms, please do not use abbreviations. After mentioning the term in full take time out to explain to the group what it means. It is quite likely that other participants of the group have a different academic background from you, and you should make sure you are all on a level playing field.
Do I begin my participation by requestingthe groups permission to do so? Itis not likely that you will get a chance to ask for such permission. It may also go against you (as appearing weak on your part).
What is the right time to enter a GD toensure that I am heard properly? In any GD, there are crests and troughs during the discussion. The crest is when the noise level is at its peak. The trough is when there is almost total silence. Ideally, you should enter the GD during the trough period. But in competitive GDs, the crests occur more often and troughs may not occur at all. In such cases, you could identify the stages in the GD, where ideas dear to you are being discussed and enter the GD irrespective of the noise level.
How do I participate when the noise levelis too high? You could try the following strategy Identify the most powerful speaker in the group, and note down the points that he/she is making. The moment the noise level reduces a little, enter supporting the powerful speaker. You will have made a strong ally who will carry you through the noise.
Do I have to be cautious about other participantsfeelings (on sensitive issues like religion, caste etc)? You certainly do. Insensitivity to others displays a lack of maturity and viciousness. It will act against your favour.
Is it beneficial to be the first speaker in agroup discussion? Being the first speaker is a high risk, high return strategy. If you can make a good opening statement, which is relevant and sets the tone for the GD, it will go in your favour. If you do this well, you may automatically become the group leader. However if you speak for the sake of speaking, not really having anything pertinent to say, it will be remembered and will go against your favour.
How critical is my fluency in English to myperformance? Command over English is certainly advantageous but will not compensate for lack of good content. If your content is good, then even if your English might not be great, you must speak it out, rather than be inhibited by lack of good English. You will get credit for soundness of ideas.
How necessary is it to use examples forillustrating an idea? Use of examples is helpful in elaborating your point, and helping others understand your idea better. But please remember to keep it short and simple because in a competitive GD nobody has the patience to listen to long, drawn out examples.
How much or for how long should Iparticipate? In a 20 minute GD with 10-12 participants, you should try and participate at least 4 times with each entry lasting at least 25-30 seconds. You could participate more depending on your comfort level and the need for participation.
Is it good to be humorous in a GD? Depends on the situation. In a GD that is fairly relaxed, it may be acceptable. But in a competitive situation, where the participants are tensed up, your attempts at humour may fall flat.
Should we make an interim summary? An interim summary is a way of directing the group mid-way through the GD. It helps the group to pick out and focus on the most important points and thus use the remaining time more effectively. However it is not necessary to make an interim summary, if the discussion is already well focused.
What do I do if someone else has alreadysaid what I wanted to say? You have two choices: Agree with the point made by that person and add on to it by displaying the applicability of the argument to different situations. By doing this you will have broadened the scope of the argument. Drop the point and think of fresh points. To avoid getting into a situation where someone else has already spoken your points, do speak up in the first 4-5 minutes of the GD. If you wait longer, it is almost inevitable that someone would have spoken your points.
Is the use of slang/colloquialismpermitted? It is best to avoid using slang.
Can I use a language other than Englishto drive home my point? No. You will have to stick to English.
How is aggression taken and measured ina GD? The moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly, you may take it that you are being too aggressive. The degree of the reaction is the measure of your aggression.
What level of aggression is seenacceptable? There is a very thin line between aggression and assertiveness. You should always aim to sound assertive and not stubborn.
Is it true that the person who speaks the most ina GD is the one who is most successful? This is a myth. Generally the person who has a sound knowledge of the topic and is a clear thinker speaks more. This leads the students into believing that whoever speaks most is successful. But just speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far.
Will I be quizzed about my (or others)participation in the GD? You may be. Therefore it helps to be alert all through the GD.
Is it true that the GD is used more as an eliminationtechnique rather than as a selection tool? Depends on the institute. In most premier institutes/companies it is used as a selection tool, not as an elimination technique.
What is the level of accuracy desired in thefacts and figures you quote during the GD? An error margin of 5% is acceptable.
Is motivating other people in the group tospeak looked upon favourably? Depends on how it is done. If you openly request someone to speak, you may be putting the other person in a difficult spot, and the evaluators will not look that upon favourably. It is therefore better to use other means of motivation, such as agreeing with a halting speaker, adding on to their points, implicitly supporting and giving them direction.
Does the moderator have any biases orpreconceived notions about the topic? Ideally the moderator is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. But being a human being, the moderator cannot be totally free from bias. Since this is not a factor within your control, there isnt much point losing sleep over it.
Can we expect the moderator to stop or cut short theGD much before the stipulated time is over? This may happen if the GD becomes too noisy and if the level of discussion deteriorates abysmally.
Can I be aggressive with a ladyparticipant?A GD is not the place to demonstrate chivalry(gallantry). Being rude to any participant (male or female) is downright unacceptable. You need not extend any special privileges to a lady.
Is it all right to ask pointed questions toother participants during a GD? It is alright to ask questions for the purpose of clarification but not for the purpose of playing the devils advocate and proving them wrong. By playing the devils advocate you hamper the flow of the GD. The pointed questions unsettle the other participant and the quality of the GD deteriorates. This would reflect badly on you and will go against your favour.
Is it necessary that a group should arriveat a conclusion in the stipulated time? Ideallya group is supposed to reach a conclusion. Normally the time constraints do not allow the group to do so.
Is an end-summary absolutely essential? No. Ifthe group has not reached a conclusion, then it would be good if someone puts the whole discussion into perspective by summarizing. But if there isnt sufficient time, a summary may be avoided.
Is voting an acceptable method ofreaching a consensus? Certainlynot. A GD is not a debate.
How should a group select a topic ifasked to? The group should brainstorm for about two minutes and narrow down the list of topics to 3-4. After this the group should prioritize them based on the comfort level and ease of discussion of the topics. This could be done by asking each participant to rank the 4 topics and the most popular choice should be taken.
Are the topics decided on the basis of theacademic background of the participant? No. Topics are usually general in nature to give a level playing field to everyone.
What do I do if one member is verystubborn and aggressive? You could use any of the following methods. Ignore him and address the other members of the group. Be assertive and tell him that his argument is faulty. Point out to him that his point is well taken and that the group must progress further by discussing the ideas presented by others.
What are the acceptable ways of interruptingsomebody else, so that I may make my point? You can interrupt in any of the following ways: "Excuse me, but I feel that what you are saying isnt universally true ..." "Yes, I agree with your idea, and I would like to add on to it …" "Yes, I think you are right when you say that, but could you clarify what if