GROUP DISCUSSION

What is meant by GD?

A GD is a methodology used by an organization to gauge Whether the candidate has certain personality traits and/or skills that it desires in its members.

 Management aspirants who lack team skills cannot be good managers. .1. as a team leader. everybody works as a team member. And.  At the beginning of each person¶s career. later. Team Player  The reason: Managers always work in teams.

create good infrastructure and upgrade technology.' .  'Moreover. student development activities. etc. Reasoning Ability  Reasoning ability plays an important role while expressing your opinions or ideas at a GD. less money will be available to perform these .  For example.activities which will lead to deterioration in the quality of IIMs.2. it costs money to attract good faculty. student exchange programmes.  'With reduction in fees. research. 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.

. Leadership There 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 discuss the topic assertively by touching on all its nuances and try to reach the objective.3. Here.  participants get emotionally charged and the GD gets chaotic. a leader would be someone who facilitates the third situation at a GD.

 contributes to the GD at regular intervals with valuable insights.  inspires and motivates team members to express their views.  coordinates the effort of the different team members in the GD.So a leader should have the following qualities:  shows direction to the group whenever group moves away from the topic. .

you end up in a awkward situation:  If you change your stand.. ie 'Yes.if the topic of a GD is.  By taking a stand. or. 'No.  Eg. .  If you do not change your stand. you are seen as an inflexible. you have already given your decision without discussing the topic at hand or listening to the views of your team members. you are seen as a fickle-minded or a whimsical person.4. stubborn and obstinate person. India should not'. Flexibility  You must be open to other ideas as well as to the evaluation of your ideas: That is what flexibility is all about. if you encounter an opposition with a very strong point at the 11th hour.  Also. '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. India should'.

5. positive and confident manner. . Assertiveness  You must put forth your point to the group in a very emphatic.

Aggressiveness is all about forcing your point on the other person. Participants often confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness.   . whereas an assertive person displays positive body language. An aggressive person can also demonstrate negative body language. and can be a threat to the group.

 But that is a high risk-high return strategy. if you fumble. it gives the impression that you started the GD just for the sake of the initial points. . it may work against you. Initiative  A general trend amongst students is to start a GD and get the initial kitty of points earmarked for the initiator.  Initiate a GD only if you are well versed with the topic.  Also. stammer or misquote facts. If you start and fail to contribute at regular intervals.6.

.You will find yourself in the good books of the examiner.7. it can only be positive. 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. such that it is discussed at length by the group.  When you put across a new idea convincingly.

 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.8. This may insult him and hamper the flow of the GD. . Inspiring ability  A good group discussion should incorporate views of all the team members.  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.

9. Listening  Always try and strike a proper balance between expressing your ideas and imbibing ideas. .

Awareness   You must be well versed with both the micro and macro environment.10. Your awareness about your environment helps a lot in your GD content. . which carries maximum weightage.

Topic based Gds can be classified into three types :1.TYPES OF GD  GDs can be topic-based or case-based. Factual Topics 2. Abstract Topics . Controversial Topics 3.

TOPIC BASED GD .

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.g. Tourism in India. they may have been in the news lately. State of the aged in the nation. . E. These can be current. which an ordinary person is aware of in his day-to-day life. i.Factual Topics:- Factual topics are about practical things. The education policy of India. Typically these are about socio-economic topics.e.

Women make better managers . the noise level is usually high.g. by rationally and logically arguing his point of view without getting personal and emotional.  The idea behind giving a topic like this is to see how much maturity the candidate is displaying by keeping his temper in check. there may be tempers flying. They are meant to generate controversy. E. In GDs where these topics are given for discussion.Controversial Topics Controversial topics are the ones that are argumentative in nature. Reservations should be removed.

but their possibility cannot be ruled out. Twinkle twinkle little star. These topics test your lateral thinking and creativity. These topics are not given often for discussion.g. A is an alphabet.Abstract Topics Abstract topics are about intangible things. The number 10 . E.

In the case study there are no incorrect answers or perfect solutions. Information about the situation will be given to you and you would be asked as a group to resolve the situation.Case-based GD The case study tries to simulate a real-life situation. 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 .

FAQ¶S ABOUT GROUP DISCUSSION .

What is the normal duration of a GD? A GD is generally of 15-20 minutes duration. .

How many panel members are there to evaluate? There are usually 3-4 panel members to evaluate. .

but there could be instances when this does not happen. .Is there time given for preparation after the topic is given and before starting the GD? Usually some time (2-5 minutes) is given to collect one's thoughts. so it is best not to bank on this.

. Just ignore their existence. The GD is between you and the other members. not the panel members.Should I address the panel or the group members? Don't ever make the mistake of addressing the panel members. You must avoid even looking at the panel members while the GD is in progress.

which you have no control over. or circular.What is the seating arrangement like? It could be semi-circular. . It is best not to bother about trivial issues like this. or seating along side a rectangular table. depending upon the venue.

How should I address the other group members? 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 selfintroduction prior to starting the discussion and you remember the names) or simply use pronouns like "he" or "she".

The quality and not the quantity of your contribution is the success factor. should I 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.Suppose I have a lot to say on the topic. the person who talks the most is not necessarily the one who is judged the best. . Contrary to the misconception.

. If the person don¶t open up you will be in a critical situation.Should I encourage others to speak up? Do not directly put someone who is consistently silent on the spot by asking him/her to speak up. 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.

but not to the point of getting so distracted looking at your watch that you do not contribute to the discussion. .Are the group members supposed to keep track of the time or will the panel keep track? It would be good if you are conscious of the time.

.Are we allowed to carry a piece of paper during the GD for noting down important points? Normally you are. but there may be instances when it is specifically forbidden to carry paper.

. which is favourable to the participants?  If participants are asked to sit in a circle or a semi circle. then choose a position as close to the centre as possible. one position is as good as another. But if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table.Is there any particular seating arrangement.

You should not. .Should we begin the GD by appointing a leader amongst ourselves? No. Leadership in a GD is established implicitly through one's performance in a GD.

Should we distribute the total time available to all the participants to ensure that everybody gets 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. .

. and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range. You may participate actively by pointing out both sides of the issue in a reasonable and logical manner. it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against a topic before you learn the facts of the argument. Naturally. switch over to another stand?     Yes. provided you do it the right way. Blindly taking a stand will definitely lead you to trouble.Can we take a definite stand in the GD and then later on during the GD. In a GD it is quite likely that some other participant's counterargument convinces you to your point. If this happens. This does not mean you should sit on the fence. then it is best if you accept his argument and explain to the group how your previous argument was true within a narrow range.

. it is better to wait for some other participant to explain the meaning of the topic. start participating in the discussion. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner.If we do not understand the meaning of the topic. You cannot. So listen to the discussion carefully for the first few minutes and when you have figured out what the topic is about. should we ask the moderator to explain it to us?    No.

It would demonstrate your creativity and originality. Just make sure it is relevant to the topic.Are we expected to stick to the normally accepted line of thought or can we come up with something radical?    By all means you can. .

If you react emotionally you are likely to lose control over yourself during the group discussion. not emotional in a GD. .If I feel strongly about an issue. You have to be calm and logical. should I voice my feelings?    It is important to be cool and emotionally objective in a GD.

Can I use technical terms or jargon. and you should make sure you are all on a level playing field. which is clear to me. please do not use abbreviations. but not to the group?    If you have to use technical terms. 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. .

Do I begin my participation by requesting the group's permission to do so?   It is 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).

Ideally. the crests occur more often and troughs may not occur at all. you should enter the GD during the trough period.What is the right time to enter a GD to ensure that I am heard properly?      In any GD. The crest is when the noise level is at its peak. there are crests and troughs during the discussion. . In such cases. where ideas dear to you are being discussed and enter the GD irrespective of the noise level. you could identify the stages in the GD. But in competitive GDs. The trough is when there is almost total silence.

and note down the points that he/she is making. . You will have made a strong ally who will carry you through the noise. enter supporting the powerful speaker.How do I participate when the noise level is too high?     You could try the following strategy Identify the most powerful speaker in the group. The moment the noise level reduces a little.

Do I have to be cautious about other participants' feelings (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.

high return strategy. which is relevant and sets the tone for the GD. If you do this well. you may automatically become the group leader. it will go in your favour. If you can make a good opening statement. not really having anything pertinent to say. it will be remembered and will go against your favour.Is it beneficial to be the first speaker in a group discussion?     Being the first speaker is a high risk. . However if you speak for the sake of speaking.

How critical is my fluency in English to my performance?    Command over English is certainly advantageous but will not compensate for lack of good content. You will get credit for soundness of ideas. If your content is good. rather than be inhibited by lack of good English. you must speak it out. then even if your English might not be great. .

How necessary is it to use examples for illustrating an idea?   Use of examples is helpful in elaborating your point. and helping others understand your idea better. drawn out examples. But please remember to keep it short and simple because in a competitive GD nobody has the patience to listen to long. .

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.How much or for how long should I participate?   In a 20 minute GD with 10-12 participants. .

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 already said 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/colloquialism permitted?  It is best to avoid using slang. .

Can I use a language other than English to drive home my point?  No. . You will have to stick to English.

you may take it that you are being too aggressive. The degree of the reaction is the measure of your aggression. .How is aggression taken and measured in a GD?   The moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly.

What level of aggression is seen acceptable?   There is a very thin line between aggression and assertiveness. . You should always aim to sound assertive and not stubborn.

But just speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far. This leads the students into believing that whoever speaks most is successful. . Generally the person who has a sound knowledge of the topic and is a clear thinker speaks more.Is it true that the person who speaks the most in a GD is the one who is most successful?    This is a myth.

. Therefore it helps to be alert all through the GD.Will I be quizzed about my (or others) participation in the GD?  You may be.

. not as an elimination technique.Is it true that the GD is used more as an elimination technique rather than as a selection tool?   Depends on the institute. In most premier institutes/companies it is used as a selection tool.

What is the level of accuracy desired in the facts and figures you quote during the GD?  An error margin of 5% is acceptable. .

such as agreeing with a halting speaker.Is motivating other people in the group to speak looked upon favourably?    Depends on how it is done. It is therefore better to use other means of motivation. . implicitly supporting and giving them direction. If you openly request someone to speak. adding on to their points. you may be putting the other person in a difficult spot. and the evaluators will not look that upon favourably.

Does the moderator have any biases or preconceived notions about the topic?    Ideally the moderator is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. . the moderator cannot be totally free from bias. there isn't much point losing sleep over it. Since this is not a factor within your control. But being a human being.

.Can we expect the moderator to stop or cut short the GD 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 lady participant?   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 to other participants during a GD?    It is alright to ask questions for the purpose of clarification but not for the purpose of playing the devil's advocate and proving them wrong. . 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. By playing the devil's advocate you hamper the flow of the GD.

Normally the time constraints do not allow the group to do so.Is it necessary that a group should arrive at a conclusion in the stipulated time?   Ideally a group is supposed to reach a conclusion. .

.Is an end-summary absolutely essential?    No. a summary may be avoided. If the group has not reached a conclusion. But if there isn't sufficient time. then it would be good if someone puts the whole discussion into perspective by summarizing.

A GD is not a debate. .Is voting an acceptable method of reaching a consensus?   Certainly not.

This could be done by asking each participant to rank the 4 topics and the most popular choice should be taken.How should a group select a topic if asked 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. .

Are the topics decided on the basis of the academic background of the participant?   No. Topics are usually general in nature to give a level playing field to everyone. .

. Ignore him and address the other members of the group. Point out to him that his point is well taken and that the group must progress further by discussing the ideas presented by others. Be assertive and tell him that his argument is faulty.What do I do if one member is very stubborn and aggressive?    You could use any of the following methods.

but I feel that what you are saying isn't universally true ." "Yes. I agree with your idea..What are the acceptable ways of interrupting somebody else. so that I may make my point?    You can interrupt in any of the following ways: "Excuse me. but could you clarify what if . and I would like to add on to it «" "Yes. I think you are right when you say that..

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