You are done with the Common Admission Test (CAT) and are probably lining up yourself for some of the other admission tests. This is a good time to brush up your skills for the last mile of selection –group discussion and interview (GD-PI).Interestingly, there are lot of speculations and confusions among aspirants regarding GD-PI. Havingbeen a part of selection panels representing both the corporate and institutional recruiters for severalyears, I have witnessed, moderated and assessed performance in innumerable GD-PIs. It is fascinatingto see students trying really hard, but ending up doing things that they should rather avoid.Here is a list of things candidates need to stay clear off if they wish to make the right impression on theinterview panel. Avoiding the don’ts will help recognise the real differentiators, and the direct preparationtowards improving ability to score higher on them.Let’s begin with GD. A group of students is assigned a topic for discussion for 15–20 minutes. Thepanel is looking for an effective combination of knowledge and skills in the candidates. Some serious‘don’ts’.
1. Arriving just-in-time, or worse still, arriving late for the selection process:
Being punctual showsyou value time and respect the institute’s time as well. Arriving early gives you a chance to familiariseyourself with the environment, meet your ‘competitors’ and become a little easy about the whole thing.Less stress equals better performance.
2. Not having a crisp, simple and effective speech prepared for the introduction:
Oftenmoderators ask the participants to introduce themselves. It sounds simple so candidates don’t give thispart much thought. Consequently, we see poorly-structured, fumbling introductions, making a negativeimpression on the panel and participants.
3. Clarifying the topic with the moderator:
If you do not know much about or do not understand thetopic, the worst thing you can do is ask the moderator. It shows you in poor light, either in terms of knowledge or analytical ability, or both. You need to keep quiet and listen to your peers; as thediscussion unfolds, you will know what to say.
4. Scrapping to start the discussion without having anything useful to say:
Starting the discussiondoes not by itself necessarily give you extra points; it does, however, give you some visibility. So, if youdo manage to start, make sure you make a positive impact. It’s better not to start the discussion than tomake an average or poor start.
5. Failing to recognise that a GD is not a debate:
Majority of candidates start the discussion byvoicing their own opinion – that’s typically the debate situation. In GDs, moderators look for candidateswho can create a framework for discussion or help widen its scope by guiding the group to explore itsdifferent aspects. If all you have to say is whether you agree with the topic or not, and that too beforeyou get a chance to discuss it with the group, you have made a poor start.
6. Showing aggression:
Many candidates believe that the corporate world is seeking aggressivemanagers. The industry, on the contrary, is looking for managers who can work in and with teams andwho are assertive without being aggressive. To be aggressive is to impinge on others’ space and timeand that’s not how a professional is expected to conduct him/her self. So, don’t come across as asmoke-spouting matador; you need to come across as an effective team-player who works with thegroup, accommodates diverse viewpoints and asserts him/ her-self without aggression.
7. Trying to be the leader of the group:
Leadership cannot be demanded, it is bestowed by the groupand you have to earn it on the basis of the quality of your performance. Candidates often try very hardto assume a leadership position in the group – obviously in the belief that the moderator is assessingthem on leadership potential. The effort shows – and, almost always, with disastrous results. If you addvalue to the discussion by demonstrating knowledge and analytical ability and conduct yourself withdignity, you may emerge as a leader.