such as CAT, MAT, XAT etc, are done with, it‟s time
to turn your attention to the next phaseof the selection process
the Group Discussion (popularly called the GD).In several years of my association as a facilitator, moderator and judge for GDs, I have seen some perfectly good and capablestudents falter at this stage. While we can choose to blame the environment or even question the very validity of this tool, the factremains that GDs are part of your life for the next few years at least and you need to be good at them to get into the institutes and
organisations of your choice.
Let‟s make an attempt to demystify the GD from two perspectives: one, what do institutes look for in GDs, and two, how do you
prepare yourself to improve your performance in GDs. We will also bust some myths that this animal has picked up over the years.A typical GD comprises eight to 12 participants engaging in a discussion on an assigned topic or case study for a period of 10-20
minutes. You will be assessed on your performance, both as an individual and a team contributo
r. From an individual contributor‟s
point of view, you have to excel in both content (the points you make during the GD), and form (the manner in which you presentyour views).
As an effective team player you would have a „connect‟ with and a
cceptability by the other members of the group, you will listen to
and understand others‟ points of view, contribute to the discussion with your own points and conduct yourself with grace in a
situation. Attributes like knowledge, analytical ability, assertiveness (but not aggression), clarity of thought and expression anddecision-making ability play critical roles in enabling a superior performance in a GD.So how does one prepare for GDs
?The answer is a thundering „Yes‟.
I would divide this task into three components:Improving your comfort level in English
Improving your levels of awareness of the environment around you.Understanding and working on your behaviour in a group situation.
Mastering the language
English will remain the medium of transaction throughout your working life
so a level of
comfort in English is critical not just for success in GD but also for career success. Address
the four components of the „practice‟ of English –
listen, read, speak and write.Listen to people who speak well -
the objective is to get used to the „sound‟ of good English.
Reading is, sadly, a vanishing pursuit in our country
nothing can substitute the learning
that reading affords. Develop a culture of reading - this will further strengthen your
relationship with the „sound‟ of good English.
The only way to get better at speaking in English is to speak more of it
especially in groups
and formal situations. Make sure you speak „correct‟ English even in informal gatherings.
Remember, practice of correct English is habit forming (and so, unfortunately, is the practiceof bad English).
This habit should also extend to any writing that you may do
an article, an essay or an e-mail. If you follow this four-fold path,
slowly but surely your familiarity with and hence confidence in English will improve.
Content is king
The quality of your content will depend on knowledge levels, an attitude of enquiry and debate and the ability to think on your feet.Be a well-informed person
read newspapers and magazines and understand the dynamics of the industry, the society and the
polity. Support your assertions with valid arguments and data wherever possible.
Most topics don‟t have easy answers–
you should attempt to bring in new perspectives to the discussion and not get sucked into thispractice of just supporting or countering the topic or simply trying to prove others wrong. I call them passengers
people who go
through GDs with a combination of „I agree with you‟ and „I don‟t agree with you.‟ Good to know whom you agree with –
but is that allyou have to say?
English improvement tips
to people who speak well
and turn this into a lifelonghabit
English whenever you get achance
articles, essays or even juste-mails
Do-it-yourself kitHow do you know if youperformed well in a GD? Look atthe quality of response you gotfrom the others: