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Group Discussions Demystified

Group Discussion (GD) has come to be accepted as an extremely effective tool for evaluating an individual's
interpersonal skills. The exercise draws out the best in a candidate -- his depth of knowledge, clarity of thought,
communication and interpersonal skills, personality and leadership qualities. Be it admission to a professional course
like MBA or hotel management, or jobs in specific fields like management, banking etc, GD has become a very popular
and integral part of the selection process.

It is not a formal debate but an informal, conversational exercise among eight to twelve persons that usually spans 15-
30 minutes. It is a general discussion on a given topic, a case study or a controversial current issue. GD is usually a
leaderless exercise in the sense that no one person in particular is designated as leader of the group. But once it has
started, more often than not, a leader does emerge-- one who co-ordinates the participants' views and lends direction
to the group discussion.

Evaluation

After introducing the topic, the selectors/evaluators frequently withdraw and observe the progress of the discussion to
understand the personality traits of the candidates and identify the best talents. They do not usually interfere in the
proceeding unless absolutely necessary.

Assessment factors

While a group discussion is under way, the observer/s would note the following:

• General Awareness: The candidate's grasp of the subject, range of ideas, quality of his views and outlook
play a vital role in the evaluation process.
• Verbal Communication: There are few careers where power of expression is not important. Your ability to
put forth your views with fluency and brevity are tested. Are other members of the group and the observers
able to follow you clearly and correctly? Is your diction clear? Can you express your main point in a few
words? Do you command attention and interest from listeners?
• Analytical Power: This reflects your ability to analyse the issue being discussed, identify the main issue or
issues and bring them to the centre of discussion. In short, you need to display a logical and coherent thought
process.
• Reflex: Your ability to argue your point of view under pressure and cope with hostile opinions. Are you able to
quickly respond to the challenge or contradiction, or do you clam up! Your ability to use your knowledge and
reasoning powers to win others over will undoubtedly give you a cutting edge.
• Team/Group Orientation: The GD seeks to test your qualities as a team player. The aim of the group is
different from that of an individual and can be stated as "to help the group achieve its goal". For example, the
goal may be a meaningful or insightful discussion or may require resolving conflicts to arrive at a
conclusion/consensus.
• Leadership Qualities: Hogging the limelight at the cost of others is hardly the way to captain a team. Social
adaptability and interpersonal skills are mandatory for good leadership. Interacting with others, appreciating
their points of view and being open to new ideas are part of the leadership exercise.
GD Score Sheet [Sample]
Topic Date
Sl. No CRITERIA Max. Points
I INITIATIVE
1. Holds group's attention
2. Makes a measured & planned entry
3. Forceful, yet persuasive & convincing
SUBTOTAL
II KNOWLEDGE
1. Has his/her facts right
2. Depth of understanding of the topic
3. Brings in relevant & original points
4. Ability to apply academic knowledge to real life situations.
SUBTOTAL
III CONTRIBUTION
1. Adequate, comes in often
2. Logical and analytical mind
3. Consistency in argument
4. Participation sustained till the end
SUBTOTAL
IV COMMUNICATION SKILLS
1. Command over the language
2. Ability to put across ideas fluently and effectively
3. Attentive listening
SUBTOTAL
V POISE
1. Is relaxed ( fidgety and nervous )
2. Is courteous
3. Is pleasant and friendly
SUBTOTAL
VI LEADERSHIP QUALITIES
1. Acceptability
2. Adaptability
3. Mutual respect
4. Openness to accept other's point of view
GD Topics
GD topics are generally categorized into the following areas:

1. Current Events
a. Climate Change
b. Disasters
c. Recession
d. Hot Political Debates
e. Games
f. Media and Entertainment

2. Social Issues
a. Dowry
b. Corruption
c. Increasing Divorce Rates
d. Un-touchability etc
3. National Issues
a. India’s relationship with its neighbors
b. Tata Nano
c. Gujarat Genocide
4. International Politics
a. China’s growing clout
b. Afghanisthan and the Indian presence
c. Terrorism and Pakistan

The GD participant should be aware of atleast three relevant topics in all the four mentioned areas. Care
should be taken to read the last one week’s Economic Times or Mint for best awareness.

Example:

1. CHILD LABOR
a. Introduction
i. Child labor is the employment of children under an age determined by law or custom
ii. This practice is considered exploitative by many countries and international
organizations.
iii. Child labor is very common, and can be factory work, mining, child prostitution, selling on
streets, polishing shoes, stacking store’s products, doing any odd jobs.
iv. Child labor is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing
countries.
v. The State Governments and NGOs to ensure that adequate steps are taken to eradicate
child labor
b. PROS
i. Children work for a variety of reasons, the most important being poverty and the induced
pressure upon them to escape from this plight
ii. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income
in developing countries.
iii. Schooling problems also contribute to child labor
iv. Inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality education which forces parents to push
their children into more profitable pursuits.
v. Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social roles in certain countries further limit
educational attainment and increase child labor.
vi. They are deprived of proper working conditions, adequate pay, mental and physical
growth
c. CONS
i. There is no international agreement defining child labor, making it hard to isolate cases
of abuse, let alone abolish them.
ii. Many children may have to work in order to attend school so abolishing child labor may
only hinder their education.
iii. What to do if the child is working so that he/ she can fill up the belly of the family?
iv. NGO’S and the Government are responsible but they do not follow up on any measures
taken
v. Population Explosion coupled with poor social planning is one of the reasons why Child
Labor continues in many developing countries.
d. STATISTICS
i. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work at 16 years.
ii. Eradicate poverty, provide 2 times meals, then the basic education to the child and
his/her dependents
iii. Campaign against child labor: UK investigative report in October of 2007 found children
as young as nine working sixteen to nineteen hours a day without pay in India producing
Gap for Kids clothing.
iv. Nike earlier had resorted to sweat shops then had to revise its ways because of the
criticism it faced by NGO’s

2. RESERVATIONS AND QUOTAS

a. Introduction
i. Reservation in Indian law is a form whereby a percentage of seats are reserved in the
Parliament of India, state legislative assemblies, in all public and private educational
institutions, etc
ii. for the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes
and Tribes
iii. Caste is the predominant factor used for reservation in India, other factors are genders,
state of domicile(Bihar, UP that are under represented), etc
iv. to increase the social diversity in campuses and workplace

b. PROS
i. To provide social justice to the most marginalized and underprivileged is our duty and
their human right
ii. To eliminate casteism we need to help underprivileged people to do well in their
education
iii. Benefit people from the "lower castes" to climb the social ladder.
iv. The nature of discrimination against women is much different to that against the lower
social class
v. Reservation is a tool to improve representation. It is not a poverty alleviation programme.
vi. It was researched in Harvard University that Affirmative Action programmes are
beneficial to the under-privileged.
c. CONS
i. Villages consist not only of the so called "lower classes" but also of the "upper castes"
ii. The basic feature of the caste system is endogamy
iii. Reservation is a tool to meet narrow political ends
iv. Political parties & central government paint false picture of inequality between Forward
Castes and Other Backward classes without referring its own survey results
v. reservation in no way improves the status of the lower classes

d. EXAMPLES
i. On 10 April 2008, the Supreme Court of India upheld the law that provides for 27%
reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in educational institutions supported by
the Central government
ii. The central government of India reserves 27% of government jobs
iii. But certain Indian states like Tamil Nadu, which currently reserves 69% seats, following
caste based reservations.
iv. Actual ground reality of so called "69%" quota. Effective reservation around 51.114%

3. MANAGEMENT VS LEADERSHIP

a. Introduction
i. We often talk of management and leadership as if they are the same thing. They are not.
ii. The difference between a manager and a leader is managers make people do what they
want. Leaders make people want to do what they need to do."
iii. to maximize your own effectiveness you have to be able to function both as a leader and
as a manager
iv. The two are related, but their central functions are different
v. A Manager "does the thing right" and a Leader "does the right thing."
vi. Leaders must have the courage to act and the humility to listen.
vii. A leader must lead by example whereas a manager uses direction and enforcement of
policy and procedure to accomplish specific tasks. Of course, a manager must also be
able to lead as well.
viii. A leader encourages, leads by example, cares about the team and gives regular
feedback. People need to be recognized and praised. A leader influences and inspires
others to believe in themselves and to follow a vision for the future.
ix. In fact, a true test of an effective leader is knowing when to go into the manager mode
x. it just isn’t good enough to be only a manager. Effectively, managing is about leadership
xi. An effective leader must be a good manager and a good manager effectively must be a
good leader.

b. DIFFERENCES
i. A manager takes care of where you are; a leader takes you to a new place.
ii. A manager deals with complexity; a leader deals with uncertainty.
iii. A manager is concerned with finding the facts; a leader makes decisions.
iv. A manager's critical concern is efficiency; a leader focuses on effectiveness.
v. A manager creates policies; a leader establishes principles.
vi. A manager finds answers and solutions; a leader formulates the questions and identifies
the problems.
vii. A manager looks for similarities between current and previous problems; a leader looks
for differences.
viii. A manager thinks that a successful solution to a management problem can be used
again; a leader wonders whether the problem in a new environment might require a
different solution.
ix. Management is making efficient use or resources, setting priorities, and it is short term
whereas leadership is dealing with uncertainty and is focused on long term.
x. Management involves looking at the facts and assessing status, Leadership involves
looking at inadequate or nonexistent information and then making a decision.

c. FACTS AND EXAMPLES
i. The public sector develops a lot of good managers, but very few leaders. Government
focuses too much on abstract or formal education, rather than experience.
ii. The Economist’ has named Narayan Murthy as among the world’s top 15 most admired
global leaders.

4. GLOBAL OUTSOURCING

a. Introduction
i. Outsourcing is subcontracting a process, such as product design or manufacturing, to a
third-party company.
ii. to make more efficient use of labor, capital, technology and resources
iii. The client organization and the supplier enter into a contractual agreement that defines
the transferred services
iv. The supplier acquires the means of production in the form of a transfer of people, assets
and other resources from the client
v. The globalization of outsourcing operating models has resulted in new terms such as
near shoring, no shoring, and right shoring
vi. Off shoring is on the way to becoming a mainstream business

b. PROS
i. Lower costs; cost restructuring
ii. Improve quality, knowledge, operational expertise,
iii. Capacity management
iv. Catalyst for change
v. Risk management, Reduced time to reach market
vi. Customer Pressure
vii. Risk management, Reduced time to reach market·
viii. Customer Pressure
ix. Multilingual workforce , Inexpensive labor (technically skilled), access to large talent pool
x. Potential 24/7 global tech support
xi. Global prestige
xii. Local market access advantages
xiii. Lower duties and tariffs
xiv. Low-cost delivery

c. CONS
i. Political risk
ii. Loss of quality control (mfg., brand, support)
iii. Misrepresentation of your company
iv. Strong dollar Brand management
v. Channel conflict (gray market, territory)
vi. Stricter labor laws (EU)
vii. Bribery and kickback pressure
viii. Productivity
ix. Intellectual Property Rights concerns

d. Examples
i. Business segments typically outsourced include information technology, human
resources, facilities and real estate management, and accounting.
ii. Top three spots for global outsourcing by 2015 are China. India and Us
iii. Off shoring is on the way to becoming a mainstream business
iv. Global outsourcing by industry: Information Technology 43%; Financial services 17%
v. Communication, consumer goods and manufacturing count for the remaining
vi. Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, NCR (New Delhi, Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, NOIDA,
Greater Noida, Ghaziabad), Pune, Mumbai are Tier I cities that are leading IT cities in
India

5. GANDHIAN PRINCIPLES TODAY
a. Introduction
i. Mahatma Gandhi, was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian
independence movement
ii. In India, he is officially accorded the honour of Father of the Nation
iii. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha
iv. 2 October to be the "International Day of Non-Violence
v. For an end to untouchability and caste discrimination, and for the economic self-
sufficiency of the nation,non-violence and truth in all situations
vi. Gandhian Principles : Truth; Non Violence; Vegetarianism; Brahmacharya; Simplicity;
Faith
b. PROS
i. Led to the establishment of Gandhigiri club
ii. Gandhigiri club that promises to take up social and community issues by way of humble,
non-violent means of protest.
iii. bandhs and 'gheraos', have lost their effectiveness
iv. It rarely helps in forcing either the authorities or politicians into action
v. The Munnabhai effect is just not wearing out be it from websites or fan clubs.
vi. new way of doing things that is inspiring a whole generation
vii. Hundred years ago, Gandhi had changed the course of history forever. Today it has
taken a Munnabhai film to revoke interest in the Gandhian ideology and principles
viii. People are also talking about their own experiences of implementing the philosophy in
their everyday lives.
c. CONS

• Is Gandhi Jayanti just another day off in the pantheon of Indian holidays?
• The world is changing rapidly and most of his principles are no longer applicable. Like for instance I don’t
believe in violence, but if someone slapped me, I would certainly not expose my other
• Youth today do not think it’s practical to follow 90 per cent of his principles today
• Khadi is worn, it's because it's the 'in thing' and not because Gandhi propagated it.
• October 2 is nothing but a holiday for the youth today

EXAMPLES

• Release of movies such as Munnabhai MBBS
• In Lucknow, citizens distributed roses and pamphlets among local officials to get a liquor shop removed
from the vicinity of a temple. At Ullhasnagar, policemen held week-long lessons on Mahatma Gandhi's
life and principles
• Flashing smiles, they presented the offenders with roses and certificates, which read
On Gandhi Jayanti, which coincided with Dussehra, over a hundred volunteers -- including many school
children -- stood guard at the signal at busy Shanipar Chowk.

6. BRAIN DRAIN

• emigration of trained and talented individuals ("human capital") to other nations or jurisdictions, due to
conflicts, lack of opportunity, health hazards
• outflow of economic talent
• India would always have enough and more from the pool that produced such professionals and could
thus afford the outflow
• Less developed countries face the major brunt by such loss.
• Also results in attrition (30 – 35% today)

PROS
• India would always have enough and more from the pool that produced such professionals and could
thus afford the outflow.
• pursuit of higher education, better technology, career opportunities, infrastructure
• Compensation for the mismatch between Indian education and employment.
• opportunities for such an elite in the West than in India
• Professional development they were better off being productively engaged in the West than facing
frustrations in India.
• Foreign countries, especially the United States and those in Europe have been "green pastures" for
doctors because payment at home is negligible in comparison
• People in poor countries think that a degree from a developed country is better that one taken in their
homeland.

CONS

• Poor countries become poorer.
• Economy deprived of its own talent and opportunity to develop.
• Tie-ups with international institutions abroad are possible today.
• Through FDI’s and help of FII’s even LDC’s can grow and improve.
EXAMPLES
• The answer lies in the changing dynamics domestically and globally
• there are more than 70,000 doctors of Indian origin in the U.S. alone.
• Many thousands found greener pastures in the not-so-green desert in the Gulf
• About 11,000 university graduates leave India every year for advanced study and/or work
• increase expenditure on research and development, possibly through the private industrial sector,
promote travel to other countries for professional enrichment, and improve conditions of research work

Rajesh Kumar
rkumar@tminetwork.com

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