Common Interview Questions

Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would answer them.
Read the questions listed; you will also find some strategy suggestions with it.
!"cerpted from the book #he $ccelerated %ob &earch by 'ayne (. )ord* +h.(*
published by #he ,anagement $dvantage* Inc.-
. /. Tell me about yourself: #he most often asked question in interviews. 0ou need to
have a short statement prepared in your mind. 1e careful that it does not sound rehearsed.
2imit it to work3related items unless instructed otherwise. #alk about things you have
done and 4obs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. &tart with
the item farthest back and work up to the present.
. 5. Why did you leave your last job? &tay positive regardless of the circumstances.
6ever refer to a ma4or problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors* co3
workers or the organi7ation. If you do* you will be the one looking bad. 8eep smiling and
talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity* a chance to do something
special or other forward3looking reasons.
. 9. What experience do you have in this field? &peak about specifics that relate to the
position you are applying for. If you do not have specific e"perience* get as close as you
. :. Do you consider yourself successful? 0ou should always answer yes and briefly
e"plain why. $ good e"planation is that you have set goals* and you have met some and
are on track to achieve the others.
. ;. What do co-workers say about you? 1e prepared with a quote or two from co3
workers. !ither a specific statement or a paraphrase will work. %ill Clark* a co3worker at
&mith Company* always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. It is as
powerful as %ill having said it at the interview herself.
. <. What do you know about this organiation? #his question is one reason to do
some research on the organi7ation before the interview. )ind out where they have been
and where they are going. 'hat are the current issues and who are the ma4or players=
. >. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year? #ry to include
improvement activities that relate to the 4ob. $ wide variety of activities can be
mentioned as positive self3improvement. ?ave some good ones handy to mention.
. @. !re you applying for other jobs? 1e honest but do not spend a lot of time in this
area. 8eep the focus on this 4ob and what you can do for this organi7ation. $nything else
is a distraction.
. A. Why do you want to work for this organiation? #his may take some thought and
certainly* should be based on the research you have done on the organi7ation. &incerity is
e"tremely important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long3term career
. /B. Do you know anyone who works for us? 1e aware of the policy on relatives
working for the organi7ation. #his can affect your answer even though they asked about
friends not relatives. 1e careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.
. //. What kind of salary do you need? $ loaded question. $ nasty little game that you
will probably lose if you answer first. &o* do not answer it. Instead* say something like*
#hatCs a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position= In most cases* the
interviewer* taken off guard* will tell you. If not* say that it can depend on the details of
the 4ob. #hen give a wide range.
. /5. !re you a team player? 0ou are* of course* a team player. 1e sure to have
e"amples ready. &pecifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather
than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. (o not brag* 4ust say it in a
matter3of3fact tone. #his is a key point.
. /9. "ow long would you expect to work for us if hired? &pecifics here are not good.
&omething like this should work: ICd like it to be a long time. Dr $s long as we both feel
ICm doing a good 4ob.
. /:. "ave you ever had to fire anyone? ?ow did you feel about that= #his is serious.
(o not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. $t the same time*
you will do it when it is the right thing to do. 'hen it comes to the organi7ation versus
the individual who has created a harmful situation* you will protect the organi7ation.
Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force.
. /;. What is your philosophy towards work? #he interviewer is not looking for a long
or flowery dissertation here. (o you have strong feelings that the 4ob gets done= 0es.
#hatCs the type of answer that works best here. &hort and positive* showing a benefit to
the organi7ation.
. /<. #f you had enough money to retire right now$ would you? $nswer yes if you
would. 1ut since you need to work* this is the type of work you prefer. (o not say yes if
you do not mean it.
. />. "ave you ever been asked to leave a position? If you have not* say no. If you
have* be honest* brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organi7ation
. /@. %xplain how you would be an asset to this organiation 0ou should be an"ious
for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the
position being discussed. Eive a little advance thought to this relationship.
. /A. Why should we hire you? +oint out how your assets meet what the organi7ation
needs. (o not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.
. 5B. Tell me about a suggestion you have made ?ave a good one ready. 1e sure and
use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. Dne related to the
type of work applied for is a real plus.
. 5/. What irritates you about co-workers? #his is a trap question. #hink real hard but
fail to come up with anything that irritates you. $ short statement that you seem to get
along with folks is great.
. 55. What is your greatest strength? 6umerous answers are good* 4ust stay positive. $
few good e"amples: 0our ability to prioriti7e* 0our problem3solving skills* 0our ability
to work under pressure* 0our ability to focus on pro4ects* 0our professional e"pertise*
0our leadership skills* 0our positive attitude
. 59. Tell me about your dream job. &tay away from a specific 4ob. 0ou cannot win. If
you say the 4ob you are contending for is it* you strain credibility. If you say another 4ob
is it* you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position if hired. #he
best is to stay genetic and say something like: $ 4ob where I love the work* like the
people* can contribute and canCt wait to get to work.
. 5:. Why do you think you would do well at this job? Eive several reasons and
include skills* e"perience and interest.
. 5;. What are you looking for in a job? &ee answer F 59
. 5<. What kind of person would you refuse to work with? (o not be trivial. It would
take disloyalty to the organi7ation* violence or lawbreaking to get you to ob4ect. ,inor
ob4ections will label you as a whiner.
. 5>. What is more important to you: the money or the work= ,oney is always
important* but the work is the most important. #here is no better answer.
. 5@. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is? #here are
numerous good possibilities: 2oyalty* !nergy* +ositive attitude* 2eadership* #eam player*
!"pertise* Initiative* +atience* ?ard work* Creativity* +roblem solver
. 5A. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor 1iggest trap of all. #his is a
test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with
a former boss* you may well below the interview right there. &tay positive and develop a
poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.
. 9B. What has disappointed you about a job? (onCt get trivial or negative. &afe areas
are few but can include: 6ot enough of a challenge. 0ou were laid off in a reduction
Company did not win a contract* which would have given you more responsibility.
. 9/. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure. 0ou may say that you thrive
under certain types of pressure. Eive an e"ample that relates to the type of position
applied for.
. 95. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely? +robably this one. (o
not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another 4ob more than this one.
. 99. What motivates you to do your best on the job? #his is a personal trait that only
you can say* but good e"amples are: Challenge* $chievement* Recognition
. 9:. !re you willing to work overtime? &ights? Weekends? #his is up to you. 1e
totally honest.
. 9;. "ow would you know you were successful on this job? &everal ways are good
measures: 0ou set high standards for yourself and meet them. 0our outcomes are a
success.0our boss tell you that you are successful
. 9<. Would you be willing to relocate if re'uired? 0ou should be clear on this with
your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. (o not
say yes 4ust to get the 4ob if the real answer is no. #his can create a lot of problems later
on in your career. 1e honest at this point and save yourself future grief.
. 9>. !re you willing to put the interests of the organiation ahead ofyour own? #his
is a straight loyalty and dedication question. (o not worry about the deep ethical and
philosophical implications. %ust say yes.
. 9@. Describe your management style. #ry to avoid labels. &ome of the more common
labels* like progressive* salesman or consensus* can have several meanings or
descriptions depending on which management e"pert you listen to. #he situational style
is safe* because it says you will manage according to the situation* instead of one si7e fits
. 9A. What have you learned from mistakes on the job? ?ere you have to come up
with something or you strain credibility. ,ake it small* well intentioned mistake with a
positive lesson learned. $n e"ample would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a
pro4ect and thus throwing coordination off.
. :B. Do you have any blind spots? #rick question. If you know about blind spots* they
are no longer blind spots. (o not reveal any personal areas of concern here. 2et them do
their own discovery on your bad points. (o not hand it to them.
. :/( #f you were hiring a person for this job$ what would you look for? 1e careful to
mention traits that are needed and that you have.
. :5. Do you think you are over'ualified for this position? Regardless of your
qualifications* state that you are very well qualified for the position.
. :9. "ow do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience? )irst* if you
have e"perience that the interviewer does not know about* bring that up: #hen* point out
if true- that you are a hard working quick learner.
. ::. What 'ualities do you look for in a boss? 1e generic and positive. &afe qualities
are knowledgeable* a sense of humor* fair* loyal to subordinates and holder of high
standards. $ll bosses think they have these traits.
. :;( Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers. +ick a
specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you
. :<. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project? 1e honest. If you
are comfortable in different roles* point that out.
. :>. Describe your work ethic( !mphasi7e benefits to the organi7ation. #hings like*
determination to get the 4ob done and work hard but en4oy your work are good.
. :@. What has been your biggest professional disappointment? 1e sure that you refer
to something that was beyond your control. &how acceptance and no negative feelings.
. :A. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job( #alk about having fun by
accomplishing something for the organi7ation.
. ;B( Do you have any 'uestions for me? $lways have some questions prepared.
Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organi7ation are good. ?ow soon
will I be able to be productive= and 'hat type of pro4ects will I be able to assist on= are
e"amples. treasure
?ere are some of the most important personality traits that a candidate should possess to
do well at a E(:
• Team )layer
• *easoning !bility
• +eadership
• ,lexibility
• !ssertiveness
• #nitiative
• -reativity. /ut of the box thinking
• #nspiring ability
• +istening
• !wareness
-/00/& 1D T#)2
Eroupd (iscussion Common #ips )rom )reshers? #eamG
#he tips given below are appicable in any E(. #he only difference between most other
E(s and the E(s conducted by the II,s after C$# or other top 1 &chools is the
intensity of the competition.
. 1e as natural as possible. (o not try and be someone you are not. 1e yourself.
. $ group discussion is your chance to be more vocal. #he evaluator wants to hear you
. #ake time to organi7e your thoughts. #hink of what you are going to say.
. &eek clarification if you have any doubts regarding the sub4ect.
. (onCt start speaking until you have clearly understood and analy7ed the sub4ect.
. 'ork out various strategies to help you make an entry: initiate the discussion or agree
with someone elseCs point and then move onto e"press your views.
. Dpening the discussion is not the only way of gaining attention and recognition. If you
do not give valuable insights during the discussion* all your efforts of initiating the
discussion will be in vain.
. 0our body language says a lot about you H your gestures and mannerisms are more
likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.
. 2anguage skills are important only to the effect as to how you get your points across
clearly and fluently.
. 1e assertive not dominating; try to maintain a balanced tone in your discussion and
. (onCt lose your cool if anyone says anything you ob4ect to. #he key is to stay ob4ective:
(onCt take the discussion personally.
. $lways be polite: #ry to avoid using e"treme phrases like: II strongly ob4ectC or II
disagreeC. Instead try phrases like: II would like to share my views onJC or IDne
difference between your point and mineJC or KI beg to differ with youL
. 1rush up on your leadership skills; motivate the other members of the team to speak
this surely does not mean that the only thing that you do in the E( is to say Klet us hear
what the young lady with the blue scarf has to say*L or KRaghu* let us hear your viewsL H
!ssentially be subtle-* and listen to their views. 1e receptive to othersC opinions and do
not be abrasive or aggressive.
. If you have a group of like3minded friends* you can have a mock group discussion
where you can learn from each other through giving and receiving feedback.
$part from the above points* the panel will also 4udge team members for their alertness
and presence of mind* problem3solving abilities* ability to work as a team without
alienating certain members* and creativity.
(onCt be disheartened if you did not do well in your first group discussion. #he best
possible preparation for a group discussion is to learn from your past mistakesJ
1D ,!3
'hat is the normal duration of a E(=
$ E( is generally of /;35B minutes duration.
?ow many panel members are there to evaluate=
#here are usually 93: panel members to evaluate.
Is there time given for preparation after the topic is given and before starting the E(=
Msually some time 53; minutes- is given to collect oneCs thoughts* but there could be
instances when this does not happen* so it is best not to bank on this.
&hould I address the panel or the group members=
(onCt ever make the mistake of addressing the panel members. #he E( is between you
and the other members* not the panel members. 0ou must avoid even looking at the panel
members while the E( is in progress. %ust ignore their e"istence.
'hat is the seating arrangement like=
It could be semi3circular* 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.
?ow should I address the other group members=
If you are initiating the discussion* you could do so by collectively addressing the group
as K)riendsL. &ubsequently* you could use names if the group has had a round of self3
introduction prior to starting the discussion and you remember the names- or simply use
pronouns like KheL or KsheL.
&uppose I have a lot to say on the topic* should I say all of it=
0ou 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 4udged the best. #he quality and not the quantity of your
contribution is the success factor.
&hould I encourage others to speak up=
(o not directly put someone who is consistently silent on the spot by asking himNher to
speak up. If someone has been trying to speak and has a good point but is cut off
constantly* you may encourage himNher to continue with her point as you would like to
hear her out.
$re 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* but not to the point of getting so
distracted looking at your watch that you do not contribute to the discussion.
$re we allowed to carry a piece of paper during the E( for noting down important
6ormally you are* but there may be instances when it is specifically forbidden to carry
Is there any particular seating arrangement* which is favourable to the participants=
If participants are asked to sit in a circle or a semi circle* one position is as good as
another. 1ut if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table* then choose a
position as close to the centre as possible.
&hould we begin the E( by appointing a leader amongst ourselves=
6o. 0ou should not. 2eadership in a E( is established implicitly through oneCs
performance in a E(.
&hould we distribute the total time available to all the participants to ensure that
everybody gets a chance to speak=
&ince a E( 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 E( and then later on during the E(* switch over to
another stand=
0es* provided you do it the right way. In a E( it is quite likely that some other
participantCs counter3argument convinces you to your point. If this happens* then it is best
if you accept his argument and e"plain to the group how your previous argument was true
within a narrow range* and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range.
6aturally* it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against a topic before you
learn the facts of the argument. 1lindly taking a stand will definitely lead you to trouble.
#his does not mean you should sit on the fence. 0ou 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 the topic* should we ask the moderator to e"plain
it to us=
6o. 0ou cannot. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner* it is better to wait
for some other participant to e"plain the meaning of the topic. &o 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.
&hould we address the other participants by their names or their assigned numbers=
$s far as possible* you should try and avoid names or numbers. It is better to use
pronouns such as KheL* KsheL* KyouL etc. while referring to the members of the group.
$re we e"pected to stick to the normally accepted line of thought or can we come up with
something radical=
1y all means you can. It would demonstrate your creativity and originality. %ust make
sure it is relevant to the topic.
If I feel strongly about an issue* should I voice my feelings=
It is important to be cool and emotionally ob4ective in a E(. If you react emotionally you
are likely to lose control over yourself during the group discussion. 0ou have to be calm
and logical* not emotional in a E(.
Can I use technical terms or 4argon* which is clear to me* but not to the group=
If you have to use technical terms* please do not use abbreviations. $fter mentioning the
term in full take time out to e"plain 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.
(o I begin my participation by requesting the groupCs 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-.
'hat is the right time to enter a E( to ensure that I am heard properly=
In any E(* there are crests and troughs during the discussion. #he crest is when the noise
level is at its peak. #he trough is when there is almost total silence. Ideally* you should
enter the E( during the trough period. 1ut in competitive E(s* the crests occur more
often and troughs may not occur at all. In such cases* you could identify the stages in the
E(* where ideas dear to you are being discussed and enter the E( irrespective of the
noise level.
?ow do I participate when the noise level is too high=
0ou could try the following strategy H Identify the most powerful speaker in the group*
and note down the points that heNshe is making. #he moment the noise level reduces a
little* enter supporting the powerful speaker. 0ou will have made a strong ally who will
carry you through the noise.
(o I have to be cautious about other participantsC feelings on sensitive issues like
religion* caste etc-=
0ou 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 a group discussion=
1eing 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 E(* it will go in your
favour. If you do this well* you may automatically become the group leader. ?owever if
you bungle it up by speaking for the sake of speaking* not really having anything
pertinent to say-* it will be remembered and will go against your favour.
?ow critical is my fluency in !nglish to my performance=
Command over !nglish is certainly advantageous but will not compensate for lack of
good content. If your content is good* then even if your !nglish might not be great* you
must speak it out* rather than be inhibited by lack of good !nglish. 0ou will get credit for
soundness of ideas.
?ow necessary is it to use e"amples for illustrating an idea=
Mse of e"amples is helpful in elaborating your point* and helping others understand your
idea better. 1ut please remember to keep it short and simple because in a competitive E(
nobody has the patience to listen to long* drawn out e"amples.
?ow much or for how long should I participate=
In a 5B minute E( with /B3/5 participants* you should try and participate at least : times
with each entry lasting at least 5;39B seconds. 0ou could participate more depending on
your comfort level and the need for participation.
Is it good to be humorous in a E(=
(epends on the situation. In a E( that is fairly rela"ed* it may be acceptable. 1ut in a
competitive situation* where the participants are tensed up* your attempts at humour may
fall flat.
&hould we make an interim summary=
$n interim summary is a way of directing the group mid3way through the E(. It helps
the group to pick out and focus on the most important points and thus use the remaining
time more effectively. ?owever it is not necessary to make an interim summary* if the
discussion is already well focused.
'hat do I do if someone else has already said what I wanted to say=
0ou have two choices:
$gree with the point made by that person and add on to it by displaying the applicability
of the argument to different situations. 1y doing this you will have broadened the scope
of the argument.
(rop the point and think of fresh points.
#o avoid getting into a situation where someone else has already spoken your points* do
speak up in the first :3; minutes of the E(. If you wait longer* it is almost inevitable that
someone would have spoken your points.
Is the use of slangNcolloquialism permitted=
It is best to avoid using slang.
Can I use a language other than !nglish to drive home my point=
6o. 0ou will have to stick to !nglish.
?ow is aggression taken and measured in a E(=
#he moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly* you may take it
that you are being too aggressive. #he degree of the reaction is the measure of your
'hat level of aggression is seen acceptable=
#here is a very thin line between aggression and assertiveness. 0ou should always aim to
sound assertive and not stubborn.
Is it true that the person who speaks the most in a E( is the one who is most successful=
#his is a myth. Eenerally the person who has a sound knowledge of the topic and is a
clear thinker speaks more. #his leads the students into believing that whoever speaks
most is successful. 1ut 4ust speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far.
'ill I be qui77ed about my or others- participation in the E(=
0ou may be. #herefore it helps to be alert all through the E(.
Is it true that the E( is used more as an elimination technique rather than as a selection
(epends on the institute. In most premier institutes it is used as a selection tool* not as an
elimination technique.
'hat is the level of accuracy desired in the facts and figures you quote during the E(=
$n error margin of ;O is acceptable.
Is motivating other people in the group to speak looked upon favourably=
(epends 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.
(oes the moderator have any biases or preconceived notions about the topic=
Ideally the moderator is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. 1ut being a human being*
the moderator cannot be totally free from bias. &ince this is not a factor within your
control* there isnCt much point losing sleep over it.
Can we e"pect the moderator to stop or cut short the E( much before the stipulated time
is over=
#his may happen if the E( becomes too noisy and if the level of discussion deteriorates
Can I be aggressive with a lady participant=
$ E( is not the place to demonstrate chivalry. 1eing rude to any participant male or
female- is downright unacceptable. 0ou need not e"tend any special privileges to a lady.
Is it all right to ask pointed questions to other participants during a E(=
It is alright to ask questions for the purpose of clarification but not for the purpose of
playing the devilCs advocate and proving them wrong. 1y playing the devilCs advocate
you hamper the flow of the E(. #he pointed questions unsettle the other participant and
the quality of the E( deteriorates. #his would reflect badly on you and will go against
your favour.
Is it necessary that a group should arrive at a conclusion in the stipulated time=
Ideally a group is supposed to reach a conclusion. 6ormally the time constraints do not
allow the group to do so.
Is an end3summary absolutely essential=
6o. If the group has not reached a conclusion* then it would be good if someone puts the
whole discussion into perspective by summari7ing. 1ut if there isnCt sufficient time* a
summary may be avoided.
(o we have to write a synopsis of the E( once it is over=
&ome institutes insist on this* but it is not universal.
Is voting an acceptable method of reaching a consensus=
Certainly not. $ E( is not a debate.
?ow should a group select a topic if asked to=
#he group should brainstorm for about two minutes and narrow down the list of topics to
93:. $fter this the group should prioriti7e them based on the comfort level and ease of
discussion of the topics. #his could be done by asking each participant to rank the :
topics and the most popular choice should be taken.
$re the topics decided on the basis of the academic background of the participant=
6o. #opics are usually general in nature to give a level playing field to everyone.
'hat do I do if one member is very stubborn and aggressive=
.0ou could use any of the following methods.
.Ignore him and address the other members of the group.
1e assertive and tell him that his argument is faulty.
.+oint out to him that his point is well taken and that the group must progress further by
discussing the ideas presented by others.
'hat are the acceptable ways of interrupting somebody else* so that I may make my
.0ou can interrupt in any of the following ways:
.L!"cuse me* but I feel that what you are saying isnCt universally true..L
.L0es* I agree with your idea* and I would like to add on to itL
.L0es* I think you are right when you say that* but could you clarify what if.L
1D -ommon 0istakes
'ho 2earnCs from mistakeCs is the won who has the wisdom* and who repeats mistake is
the one who does not.
?ereCs a list of the most common mistakes made at group discussions
!motional outburst
Rashmi was offended when one of the male participants in a group discussion made a
statement on women generally being submissive while e"plaining his point of view.
'hen Rashmi finally got an opportunity to speak* instead of focussing on the topic* she
vented her anger by accusing the other candidate for being a male chauvinist and went on
to defend women in general.
'hat Rashmi essentially did was to
. (eviate from the sub4ect.
. #reat the discussion as a forum to air her own views.
. 2ose ob4ectivity and make personal attacks.
?er behaviour would have been perceived as immature and demotivating to the rest of
the team.
Quality Ps Quantity
Eautam believed that the more he talked* the more likely he was to get through the E(.
&o* he interrupted other people at every opportunity. ?e did this so often that the other
candidates got together to prevent him from participating in the rest of the discussion.
. $ssessment is not only on your communication skills but also on your ability to be a
team player.
. !valuation is based on quality* and not on quantity. 0our contribution must be relevant.
. #he mantra is KContributing meaningfully to the teamCs success.L (omination is
frowned upon.
!gotism &howing off
8rishna was happy to have got a group discussion topic he had prepared for. &o* he took
pains to pro4ect his vast knowledge of the topic. !very other sentence of his contained
statistical data H K5BO of companies; 5:.5>O of parliamentarians felt that; I recently read
in a %upiter Report thatJL and so on so forth. &oon* the rest of the team either laughed at
him or ignored his attempts to enlighten them as they perceived that he was cooking up
the data.
. !"ercise restraint in anything. 0ou will end up being frowned upon if you attempt
showing3off your knowledge.
. )acts and figures need not validate all your statements.
. Its your analysis and interpretation that are equally important H not 4ust facts and
. 0ou might be appreciated for your in3depth knowledge. 1ut you will fail miserably in
your people skills.
&uch a behavior indicates how self3centered you are and highlights your inability to work
in an atmosphere where different opinions are e"pressed.
Eet noticed H 1ut for the right reasons
&rikumar knew that everyone would compete to initiate the discussion. &o as soon as the
topic H K(iscuss the negative effects of India 4oining the '#DL H was read out* he began
talking. In his an"iety to be the first to start speaking* he did not hear the word KnegativeL
in the topic. ?e began discussing the ways in which the country had benefited by 4oining
'#D* only to be stopped by the evaluator* who then corrected his mistake.
. )alse starts are e"tremely e"pensive. #hey cost you your admission. It is very important
to listen and understand the topic before you air your opinions.
. &pending a little time analy7ing the topic may provide you with insights which others
may not have thought about. Mse a pen and paper to 4ot down your ideas.
. 2istenG It gives you the time to conceptuali7e and present the information in a better
&ome mistakes are irreparable. &tarting off the group discussion with a mistake is one
such mistake* unless you have a great sense of humor.
,anaging oneCs insecurities
&umati was very nervous. &he thought that some of the other candidates were
e"ceptionally good. #hanks to her insecurity* she contributed little to the discussion.
!ven when she was asked to comment on a particular point* she preferred to remain
. 0our personality is also being evaluated. 0our verbal and non verbal cues are being
. Remember* you are the participant in the E(; not the evaluator. &o* rather than
evaluating others and your performance* participate in the discussion.
. 0our confidence level is being evaluated. (ecent communication skills with good
confidence is a must to crack the E(s.
)ocus on your strengths and do not spend too much time thinking about how others are
superior or inferior to you. It is easy to pick up these cues from your body language.
1D )reparation
'hile selection tools and techniques like tests* interviews etc. provide good data about an
individual* they fall short in providing real life data of how an individual would be
performing in a real life situation especially a group situation. #eam work being an
integral part of the 1+D work profile* it is important to ascertain group and inter3personal
qualities of an individual. Eroup discussion is a useful tool to ascertain these qualities
and many organi7ations use E(s as a selection tool along with +ersonal Interviews*
aptitude tests etc. $ E( is an activity where
.Eroups of @3/B candidates are formed into a leaderless group* and are given a specific
situation to analyse and discuss within a given time limit* which may vary between
twenty minutes and forty3five minutes* or
.#hey may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem
.#hey may be given a topic and are asked to discuss the same
/. )reparing for a 1roup Discussion: 'hile E( reflects the inherent qualities of an
individual* appearing for it unprepared may not augur well for you. #hese tips would help
you prepare for E(s:
Reading: #his is the first and the most crucial step in preparation. #his is a never ending
process and the more you read* the better you are in your thoughts. 'hile you may read
anything to everything* you must ensure that you are in good touch with current affairs*
the debates and hot topics of discussion and also with the latest in the I# and I#!&
industry. Chances are the topics would be around these. Read both for the thoughts as
well as for data. $lso read multiple view points on the same topic and then create your
point of view with rationale. $lso create answers for counter arguments for your point of
view. #he electronic media also will be of good use here.
,ocks: Create an informal E( group and meet regularly to discuss and e"change
feedback. #his is the best way to prepare. #his would give you a good idea about your
thoughts and how well can you convince. Remember* it is important that you are able to
e"press your thoughts well. #he better you perform in these mocks the better would be
you chances to perform on the final day. $lso try to interact and participate in other E(
groups. #his will develop in you a skill to discuss with unknown people as well.
5. During the 1roup Discussion:
'hat do the panelists assess:&ome of the qualities assessed in a E( are:
2eadership &kills H $bility to take leadership roles and be able to lead* inspire and carry
the team along to help them achieve the groupCs ob4ectives.
Communication &kills H Candidates will be assessed in terms of clarity of thought*
e"pression and aptness of language. Dne key aspect is listening. It indicates a willingness
to accommodate others views.
Interpersonal &kills H +eople skills are an important aspect of any 4ob. #hey are reflected
in the ability to interact with other members of the group in a brief situation. !motional
maturity and balance promotes good interpersonal relationships. #he person has to be
more people centric and less self3centered.
+ersuasive &kills H #he ability to analy7e and persuade others to see the problem from
multiple perspectives.
E( is a test of your ability to think* your analytical capabilities and your ability to make
your point in a team3based environment.
#hese are some of the sub3skills that also get assessed with the skills mentioned above:
• Clarity of thought
• Eroup working skills especially during a group task of case study discussion-
• Conflict handling
• 2istening and probing skill
• 8nowledge about the sub4ect and individual point of view
• $bility to create a consensus
• Dpeness and fle"ibility towards new ideas
• (ata based approach to decision making
'hile* it is not possible to reflect all these qualities in a short time* you would do well if
you are able to show a couple or more qualities and avoid giving negative evidence on
"ow do # take my chance to speak: #rying to interrupt others while speaking would
only harm your chances. Instead* you may try to maintain an eye3contact with the
speaker. #his would show your listening skills also and would help you gauge from his
eye3movement and pitch of voice that he is about to close his inputs. 0ou can quickly
take it from there. $lso* try and link your inputs with what he has spoken whether you are
adding to or opposing his arguments. #his would reflect that you are actually being
participative rather than 4ust doing a collective monologue.
• "ow to # communicate in a 1D: 1e crisp and to the point. 1e fact based and
avoid making individual opinions that do not have a factual base. ,ake eye
contact with all the members in the group and avoid looking at the panelists while
speaking. #he average duration of the group discussion provides an average of
about 539 minutes per participant to speak and you should try to speak about 93:
times. ?ence* you need to be really crisp to reflect the most in those 9B3:B sec.
• "ow do # convince others and make them agree to my view point: $ lot of
candidates make it their mission to make the group reach to a conclusion on the
topic. (o not forget that some of the topics have been eternal debates and there is
no way you can get an agreement in /; mins. on them. #he ob4ective is not to
make others toe your line but to provide fact based* convincing arguments which
create an impact. &tick to this approach.
• Do leadership skills include moderating the group discussion: #his is a
myth and many people do try to impose their order on the E(* ordering people
when to speak and when not to. #his only reflects poor leadership. 2eadership in a
E( would be reflected by your clarity of thought* ability to e"pand the topic in its
different dimensions* providing an opportunity to a silent participant to speak*
listening to others and probing them to provide more information. ?ence* work on
these areas rather than be a self3appointed moderator of the group.
• +istening: #his is a key quality assessed during the E( about which many
participants forget. $ctive listening can fetch you credit points and would also
provide you with data to discuss. $lso* if you have an average of 539 minutes to
speak* the rest of the 5B35; minutes is required to spent in active listening. )or
this* maintain eye contact with the speakers* attend to them like nodding* using
acknowledging words like 3I see ok* fine* great etc.-. #his would also make you
be the centre of attraction as you would appear non3threatening to the speakers.
• 4ehaviour during the 1D: 1e patient; donCt get upset if anyone says anything
you ob4ect to. &tay ob4ective and donCt take the discussion personally. $lso*
remember the si" CCs of communication H Clarity* Completeness* Conciseness*
Confidence* Correctness and Courtesy. 1e appreciative Q receptive to ideas from
other people and open3minded but do not let others to change your own
viewpoint. 1e active and interested throughout. It is better to participate less if
you have no clue of the topic. 0ou may listen to others and take clues from there
and speak. 0ou would be assessed on a range of different skills and you may
think that leadership is key* you need to be careful that you donCt dominate the
• 3uality 5s 3uantity: Dften* participants think that success in group discussions
depends on how much and how loudly they speak. Interestingly* itCs the opposite.
$lso* making your point on the topic* your views are important and the group
needs to know. #his will tell you are knowledgeable and that you participate in
• 2ummariing: If you have not been able to initiate the discussion* try to
summaries and close it. Eood summari7ing would get you good reward points. $
conclusion is where the whole group decides in favour or against the topic and
most E(s do not have a closure. 1ut every E( can be summari7ed by putting
forth what the group has discussed in a nutshell. 8eep the following points in
mind while summari7ing a discussion:
o $void raising new points.
o $void stating only your viewpoint.
o $void dwelling only on one aspect of the E(
o 8eep it brief and concise.
o It must include all the important points that came out during the E(
o If you are asked to summarise a E(* it means the E( has come to an end.
o (o not add anything once the E( has been summarised.
2ome )ositive Task *oles in a 1roup Discussion:0ou may want to play one or more of
• #nitiator
• #nformation seeker
• #nformation giver
• )rocedure facilitator
• /pinion seeker
• /pinion giver
• -larifier
• 2ocial 2upporter
• "armonier
• Tension *eliever
• %nergier
• -ompromiser
• 1atekeeper
• 2ummarier
&egative *oles to be !voided
• Disgruntled non-participant
• !ttacker
• Dominator
• )atronier
• -lown
"ow to face 1D
$ group discussion consists of 3
/. Communication &kills
5. 8nowledge and ideas regarding a given sub4ect
9. Capability to co3ordinate and lead
:. !"change of thoughts
;. $ddressing the group as a whole
<. #horough preparations
-ommunication 2kills -
#he first aspect is oneCs power of e"pression. In a group discussion* a candidate has to
talk effectively so that he is able to convince others. )or convincing* one has to speak
forcefully and at the same time create an impact by his knowledge of the sub4ect. $
candidate who is successful in holding the attention of the audience creates a positive
It is necessary that you should be precise and clear. $s a rule evaluators do not look for
the wordage produced. 0our knowledge on a given sub4ect* your precision and clarity of
thought are the things that are evaluated. Irrelevant talks lead you nowhere. 0ou should
speak as much as necessary* neither more nor less. Eroup discussions are not debating
$bility to listen is also what evaluators 4udge. #hey look for your ability to react on what
other participants say. ?ence* it is necessary that you listen carefully to others and then
react or proceed to add some more points. 0our behavior in the group is also put to test to
4udge whether you are a loner or can work in a group.
0ou should be able to convey your thoughts satisfactorily and convincingly before a
group of people. Confidence and level headedness in doing so is necessary. #hese add
value to your presentation. In case you are not good at it* you might gain by 4oining an
institute that offers speciali7ed courses in public speaking. )or instance* 1ritish Council
(ivisionCs !nglish 2anguage #eaching Centre offers a wide range of courses like
conversation skills* business communication skills* business writing* negotiation skills
and presentation skills. ,ostly people attend these courses to improve their
communication skills. &tudents here are involved in activities which use communication
skills and teachers provide inputs* monitor and facilitate the classes. #he course at the
Centre makes you confident enough to speak before people without any nervousness.
6nowledge and #deas *egarding a 1iven 2ubject 3
8nowledge of the sub4ect under discussion and clarity of ideas are important. 8nowledge
comes from consistent reading on various topics ranging from science and technology to
politics. In3depth knowledge makes one confident and enthusiastic and this in turn* makes
one sound convincing and confident.
+eadership and -oordinating -apabilities -
#he basic aim of a group discussion is to 4udge a candidateCs leadership qualities. #he
e"aminer withdraws and becomes a silent spectator once the discussion starts. $
candidate should display tactfulness* skill* understanding and knowledge on varied
topics* enterprise* forcefulness and other leadership qualities to motivate and influence
other candidates who may be almost equally competent.
%xchange of Thoughts -
$ group discussion is an e"change of thoughts and ideas among members of a group.
#hese discussions are held for selecting personnel in organisations where there is a high
level of competition. #he number of participants in a group can vary between @ and /;.
,ostly a topic or a situation is given to group members who have to discuss it within /B
to 5B minutes.
#he purpose is to get an idea about candidates in a short time and make assessments
about their skills* which normally cannot be evaluated in an interview. #hese skills may
be team membership* leadership skills* listening and articulation skills.
$ note is made of your contributions to the discussion* comprehension of the main idea*
the rapport you strike* patience* assertion* accommodation* amenability* etc. 1ody
language and eye contact too are important points which are to be considered. .
!ddressing the 1roup as a Whole -
In a group discussion it is not necessary to address anyone by name. !ven otherwise you
may not know everyoneCs names. It better to address the group as a whole.
$ddress the person farthest from you. If he can hear you everyone else too can. 6eedless
to add* as for the interview* attend the group discussion in formal dress. #he language
used should also be formal* not the language used in normal conversations. )or instance*
words and phrases like KyarL* Kchalta haiL* KC+L* KI dunnoL* etc. are out. #his is not to
say you should use a high sounding* pedantic language. $voiding both* 4ust use formal*
plain and simple language. ?inglish* mi"ture of ?indi and !nglish- should be discarded.
Confidence and coolness while presenting your viewpoint are of help. &ee that you do not
keep repeating a point. (o not use more words than necessary. (o not be superfluous.
#ry to be specific. (o not e"aggerate.
Thorough )reparation -
&tart making preparations for interview and group discussions right away* without
waiting till the eleventh hour* this is* if and when called for them. #hen the time left may
not be adequate. It is important to concentrate on sub4ect knowledge and general
awareness. ?ence* the prime need for thorough preparation. Remember* the competition
is very tough. Dnly :<B candidates make it to the final list from 5.>; lakh civil service
aspirants each year.
It may so happen that you are called for interviews and group discussions from three or
four organi7ations but are not selected by any. #he reason obviously lies in your not
being well3prepared.
In a group discussion you may be given a topic and asked to e"press your views on it. Dr
in a case study E(* students have to read a case study and suggest ways of tackling the
problem. )or this you should have a good general knowledge* need to be abreast with
current affairs* should regularly read newspapers and maga7ines. 0our group behaviour
and communication skills are on test* i.e. how you convince the others and how clearly
you are able to e"press your points of view. 0ou should be articulate* generate ideas* not
sound boring* should allow others to speak* and adopt a stand on a given sub4ect. (uring
the course of the E( this stand can even be changed* giving the impression that you are
open to accommodate othersC viewpoints.
$dditional marks may be given for starting or concluding the discussion.
+oints to Remember 3
• 8nowledge is strength. $ candidate with good reading habits has more chances of
success. In other words* sound knowledge on different topics like politics*
finance* economy* science and technology is helpful
• +ower to convince effectively is another quality that makes you stand out among
• Clarity in speech and e"pression is yet another essential quality. If you are not
sure about the topic of discussion* it is better not to initiate. 2ack of knowledge or
wrong approach creates a bad impression. Instead* you might adopt the wait and
watch attitude.
• 2isten attentively to others* may be you would be able to come up with a point or
two later.
• $ E( is a formal occasion where slang is to avoided.$ E( is not a debating
stage. +articipants should confine themselves to e"pressing their viewpoints. In
the second part of the discussion candidates can e"ercise their choice in agreeing*
disagreeing or remaining neutral.
• 2anguage use should be simple* direct and straight forward.(onCt interrupt a
speaker when the session is on. #ry to score by increasing your si7e* not by
cutting others short.
• ,aintain rapport with fellow participants. !ye contact plays a ma4or role. 6on3
verbal gestures* such as listening intently or nodding while appreciating
someoneCs viewpoint speak of you positively.
• Communicate with each and every candidate present. 'hile speaking donCt keep
looking at a single member. $ddress the entire group in such a way that everyone
feels you are speaking to him or her.
'hy do we need Eroup discussion
. It helps you to understand a sub4ect more deeply.
. It improves your ability to think critically.
. It helps in solving a particular problem.
. It helps the group to make a particular decision.
. It gives you the chance to hear other studentsC ideas.
. It improves your listening skills.
. It increases your confidence in speaking.
. It can change your attitudes.
&trategies for Improving E( &kills for #utorials Q &eminars
$sking questions and 4oining in discussions are important skills for university study. If
you find it difficult to speak or ask questions in tutorials* try the following strategies.
$ttend as many seminars and tutorials as possible and notice what other students do. $sk
.?ow do other students make critical comments=
.?ow do they ask questions=
.?ow do they disagree with or support arguments=
.'hat special phrases do they use to show politeness even when they are voicing
.?ow do they signal to interrupt* ask a question or make a point=
&tart practicing your discussion skills in an informal setting or with a small group. &tart
with asking questions of fellow students. $sk them about the course material. $sk for
their opinions. $sk for information or ask for help.
#ake every opportunity to take part in socialNinformal discussions as well as more
structuredNformal discussion. &tart by making small contributions to tutorial discussions;
prepare a question to ask* or agree with another speakerCs remarks.
(iscussion !tiquette or minding your manners-
.&peak pleasantly and politely to the group.
.Respect the contribution of every speaker.
.Remember that a discussion is not an argument. 2earn to disagree politely.
.#hink about your contribution before you speak. ?ow best can you answer the questionN
contribute to the topic=
.#ry to stick to the discussion topic. (onCt introduce irrelevant information.
.1e aware of your body language when you are speaking.
.$gree with and acknowledge what you find interesting.
.2ose your temper. $ discussion is not an argument.
.&hout. Mse a moderate tone and medium pitch.
.Mse too many gestures when you speak. Eestures like finger pointing and table
thumping can appear aggressive.
.(ominate the discussion. Confident speakers should allow quieter students a chance to
.(raw too much on personal e"perience or anecdote. $lthough some tutors encourage
students to reflect on their own e"perience* remember not to generalise too much.
.Interrupt. 'ait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak.
2eading a (iscussion
0ou may be in a seminar group that requires you to lead a group discussion* or lead a
discussion after an oral presentation. 0ou can demonstrate leadership by:
.introducing yourself and the members of the group
.stating the purpose of the discussion
.inviting quiet group members to speak
.being ob4ective
.summari7ing the discussion
Chairing a Eroup (iscussion
'hen chairing a discussion group you must communicate in a positive way to assist the
speakers in accomplishing their ob4ective. #here are at least four leadership skills you can
use to influence other people positively and help your group achieve its purpose. #hese
skills include:
.introducing the topic and purpose of the discussion*
.making sure all members have appro"imately the same time* i.e. no one dominates the
discussion by taking too much time-
.thanking group members for their contribution
.being ob4ective in summari7ing the groupCs discussion and achievements.
04! 1roup Discussion
$ group discussion E(- is a simulated e"ercise* where you cannot suddenly put up a
show* since the evaluators will see through you easily. In this page you can find tips on
E( and how to handle them to ensure a positive outcome.
?ereCs how most group discussions work
. 6ormally groups of @3/B candidates are formed into a leaderless group* and are given a
specific situation to analy7e and discuss within a given time limit.
. #he group may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a
. #he group may be given a topic and asked to discuss on the same.
$ panel will observe the proceedings and evaluate the members of the group.
2ets start from the basic. Dne needs to know what oneCs ob4ective in the group is. $ good
definition of your ob4ective is H to be noticed to have contributed meaningfully in an
attempt to help the group reach the right consensus. 'hat does this essentially mean=
/. #he first implication is that you should be noticed by the panel. ,erely making a
meaningful contribution and helping the group arrive at a consensus is not enough. 0ou
have to be seen by the evaluating panel to have made the meaningful contribution. 'hat
does that mean in practice=
. 0ou must ensure that the group hears you. If the group hears you* so will the evaluator.
#hat does not mean that you shout at the top of your voice and be noticed for the wrong
. 0ou have to be assertive. If you are not a very assertive person* you will have to simply
learn to be assertive for those /; minutes. Remember* assertiveness does not mean being
bull3headed or being arrogant.
. $nd most importantly* you have to make your chances. ,any group discussion
participants often complain that they did not get a chance to speak. #he fact is that in no
group discussion will you get a chance to speak. #here is nothing more unacceptable in a
E( than keeping oneCs mouth shut or 4ust murmuring things which are inaudible.
. +articipate in as many practice E(s as possible before you attend the actual E(. #here
is nothing like practice to help you overcome the fear of talking in a E(.
5. #he second important implication is that making 4ust any sort of contribution is not
enough. 0our contribution has to be meaningful. $ meaningful contribution suggests that
. 0ou have a good knowledge base
. 0ou are able to put forth your arguments logically and are a good communicator.
. #he quality of what you said is more valuable than the quantity. #here is this myth
amongst many group discussion participants that the way to succeed in a group
discussion is by speaking loudly and at great length. Dne could not be more wrong. 0ou
must have meat in your arguments.
#herefore* think things through carefully.
$lways enter the room with a piece of paper and a pen. In the first two minutes 4ot down
as many ideas as you can.
'hen you 4ot down points* keep these pointers in mind.
If it is a topic where you are e"pected to take a stand* say for e"ample* K&hould India sign
the Comprehensive #est 1an #reaty=L note down points for both sides of the argument. It
will be useful on two counts 3
. Dne* if you do not start the E( and are not amongst the first five speakers and find that
everyone in the group is talking for the topic* then it makes sense to take the alternate
approach and oppose the topic even if you initially intended to talk for the topic.
. &econd* it helps to have a knowledge of how group members who take a stand
diametrically opposite to yours will put forth their argument and to be prepared with
counter arguments.
9. !verybody else will state the obvious. &o highlight some points that are not obvious.
#he different perspective that you bring to the group will be highly apprecaited by the
panel. &ome pointers on being relevant while having a different perspective.