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Published by: api-3708715 on Oct 17, 2008
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The first lap in the rat race for aspiring MBAs is the written examination, most of
which are over and the results have begun to trickle in. However there are still 2
more laps to run before you guys and gals can join India's most sought-after rat
race. You know them as the group discussion(better described as the "dog eat dog"
round) and the personal interview(throwing a young innocent into a den of lions).

Hari Swamy, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus, who\u2019s been through it all, helps demystify
some of the myths about the GD and interviews.

\u201c6 years ago I remember,when I received my first call I was ecstatic,and then
suddenly time started to whizz past. There was so much to prepare and so little time.
The euphoria soon gave way to anxiety and nervousness. Today, when I look back I
realize that the GDs and the Interviews were far tougher than the Written Test. They
tested your presence of mind, the depth of your knowledge, your communication
skills and your ability to argue logically. They set apart the boys from the men (or
the girls from the women as the case may be).
I shall try and give some fundae on how one approaches these selection methods.
Let's start with the Group Discussion. Typically the group is given a topic or a case
for discussion by the panel.
The topics could be categorized thus:
l) Economic, Current Affairs and Political Issues.
2) Ethical and Moral Dilemmas, Social Issues
3) General Topics
The topics are controversial in nature and are meant to give rise to heated
arguments. It is the proverbial 'bone thrown to the dogs'.
The panel is looking essentially at 3 things:
1) how well a candidate presents his/her views on the topics
2) how much originality he/she brings to the discussion
3) the extent of the students knowledge
This seems pretty general information. However, the truth is that in the heat of a
discussion the students very often forget these basic points and end up taking
criticism very personally. It is key to remember that this is a discussion where the
various aspects of the issue must be examined before arriving at any conclusion. The
truth however is that most candidates turn it into personal crusades, and not only
reduce their own chances but also the chances of their group members.
Students often ask me how the panel evaluates GDs. Well, the truth is that it is a
very subjective evaluation and therefore difficult to quantify. At the same time there
are definite no-nos and anyone who indulges in these activities shows him/herself in
a verv poor light.

The Don\u2019ts of any GD.
1) The Strong and Silent types - It may be golden elsewhere but here all it shows is
you're wooden.

2) The Definers - While this is a key aspect in certain topics to ensure that the scope
of. the topic is charted out, many people make definitions the issue.
3) The Screamers - It's very often necessary, to raise one's voice to get heard over
the crowd but to sustain that vocal pitch for 20 minutes can be quite suicidal!
4) The Bluffers - It is a common tendency to quote figures for the sake of quoting
them. If your bluff is caught during the GD it could well end your chances. Also
remember there is an interview to follow and that the panel may decide to quiz you
on the facts then.
5) The Leaders - Since you do not have anything to say you keep trying to give
others a chance without actually saying anything meaningful yourself.
6) The Organizers - Remember, the Competition Success Review model of GDs is a
strict NO NO
7) The Questioners (who object to other peoples arguments) - While that is the aim
of the GD,saying "Why?" or "Why not?" and never bothering to elucidate the reason
for challenging the argument is not advisable.
8) Patronisers - These are people who have a very condescending attitude towards
their fellow members.
9) The Non-Listeners - they typically end up repeating the same point or arguing
with people who are on the same side Listening is as key as speaking in a GD.
10) Ramblers - they have one idea which they repeat time and again. The better
ones keep changing the semantics, the bad ones say the same things again and
again. The fact remains that all of us at different points of time have played each of
these roles. So, do not read this and say "Ya, Amar is the rambler, Laaloo is the
patroniser\u201d and so on, for while they may probably do it more often than you, there
are specific occassions when you have acted in a similar manner.

Here is a list of probable topics that you may be required to speak on. Try working
out some points on them.
1) India does not need MNCs
2) Advertising is wasteful and unnecessary in a third world country like India.
3) India should go nuclear
4) The South-East Asia Economic Crisis
5) The Grass is greener on the other side
6) Pornography is an art form and therefore should not be censored.

Questions that make many students paranoid.

1. How many times should I speak ?
Well. there is no fixed number of times that you have to speak. 3-4 times is
optimum, but even if you speak just once and speak sense it counts more than
speaking 3 times and saying nonsense.
2. Starting the GD gives me an advantage, doesn't it?
If you speak well, you're at an advantage. If you don't then it clearly shows that you
are not well-prepared- just an eager beaver. You have 20 minutes to make your
points so there\u2019s no need to panic if you can\u2019t start!
3. I must speak for or against the issue; is that the case?
Wrong! Most people conclude the GD before their first sentence by saying "I think
that art movies are boring and should be banned". It would help if you tried to raise
a few points for discussion before jumping to conclusions. "do not jump to
conclusions or they may jump on you. "
4. If everybody is shouting then I too must start shouting, right?
Very often at GDs, the whole group starts shouting and each one blames it on the
other. You could join in, but then if you've been at GDs, you'll realise that there are
times when the group hits a crescendo and then there's a sudden lull. This probably

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