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A GD is a methodology used by an organization to gauge whether the candidate has certain personality traits and/or s****s that it desires in its members.
In this methodology, the group of candidates is given a topic or a situation, given a few minutes to think about the same, and then asked to discuss the it among themselves for 15-20 minutes. Freshersworld.com brings you an elaborate section for GD as you had ever seen anywhere else.
The reason why institutes put you through a Group discussion and an interview, after testing your technical and conceptual s****s in an exam, is to get to know you as a person and gauge how well you will fit in their institute.
The Group discussion tests how you function as a part of a team. As a manager, you will always be working in teams, as a member or as a leader. Therefore how you interact in a team becomes an important criterion for your selection.
Managers have to work in a team and get best results out of teamwork. That is the reason why management institutes include GD as a component of the selection procedure.
Company's Perspective:- Companies conduct group discussion after the written test so as to check on your interactive s****s and how good you are at communicating with other people.
The GD is to check how you behave, participate and contribute in a group, how much importance do you give to the group objective as well as your own, how well do you listen to viewpoints of others and how open-minded are you in accepting views contrary to your own.
The aspects which make up a GD are verbal communication, non-verbal behavior, conformation to norms, decision-making ability and cooperation. You should try to be as true as possible to these aspects.
Types of GD
GDs can be topic-based or case-based.
Topic based Gds can be classified into three types :-
1. Factual Topics
2. Controversial Topics
3. Abstract Topics
Factual topics are about practical things, which an ordinary person is aware of in his day-to-day life. Typically these are about socio-economic topics.
These can be current, i.e. they may have been in the news lately, 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.
E.g. The education policy of India, Tourism in India, State of the aged in the nation.
Controversial topics are the ones that are argumentative in nature. They are meant to generate controversy. In GDs where these topics are given for discussion, the noise level is usually high, there may be tempers flying.
The idea behind giving a topic like this is to see how much maturity the candidate is displaying by keeping his temper in check, by rationally and logically arguing his point of view without getting personal and emotional.
E.g. Reservations should be removed, Women make better managers
Abstract topics are about intangible things. These topics are not given often for discussion, but their possibility cannot be ruled out. These topics test your lateral thinking and creativity.
E.g. A is an alphabet, Twinkle twinkle little star, The number 10
Another variation is the use of a case instead of a topic.
The case study tries to simulate a real-life situation. Information about the situation will be given to you and you would be asked as a group to resolve the situation.
Why do we have GD ?
Reasons for having a GD
* It helps you to understand a subject 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 students' ideas.
* It improves your listening s****s.
* It increases your confidence in speaking.
* It can change your attitudes.
Strategies for Improving GD S****s for Tutorials & Seminars
Asking questions and joining in discussions are important s****s for university study. If you find it difficult to speak or ask questions in tutorials, try the following strategies.
Attend as many seminars and tutorials as possible and notice what other students do. Ask yourself:
How do other students make critical comments?
How do they ask questions?
How do they disagree with or support arguments?
What special phrases do they use to show politeness even when they are voicing disagreement?
How do they signal to interrupt, ask a question or make a point?
Start practicing your discussion s****s in an informal setting or with a small group. Start with asking questions of fellow students. Ask them about the course material. Ask for their opinions. Ask for information or ask for help.
Take every opportunity to take part in social/informal discussions as well as more structured/formal discussion. Start by making small contributions to tutorial discussions; prepare a question to ask, or agree with another speaker's remarks.
Discussion Etiquette (or minding your manners)
Speak pleasantly and politely to the group.
Respect the contribution of every speaker.
Remember that a discussion is not an argument. Learn to disagree politely.
Think about your contribution before you speak. How best can you answer the question/ contribute to the topic?
Try to stick to the discussion topic. Don't introduce irrelevant information.
Be aware of your body language when you are speaking.
Agree with and acknowledge what you find interesting.
Lose your temper. A discussion is not an argument.
Shout. Use a moderate tone and medium pitch.
Use too many gestures when you speak. Gestures like finger pointing and table thumping can appear aggressive.
Dominate the discussion. Confident speakers should allow quieter students a chance to contribute.
Draw too much on personal experience or anecdote. Although some tutors encourage students to reflect on their own experience, remember not to generalise too much.
Interrupt. Wait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak.
Leading a Discussion
You may be in a seminar group that requires you to lead a group discussion, or lead a discussion after an oral presentation. You can demonstrate leadership by:
introducing yourself and the members of the group
stating the purpose of the discussion
inviting quiet group members to speak
summarizing the discussion
Chairing a Group Discussion
When chairing a discussion group you must communicate in a positive way to assist the speakers in accomplishing their objective.
There are at least four leadership s****s you can use to influence other people positively and help your group achieve its purpose. These s****s include:
introducing the topic and purpose of the discussion,
making sure all members have approximately the same time, (i.e. no one dominates the discussion by taking too much time)
thanking group members for their contribution
being objective in summarizing the group's discussion and achievements.
How to Face GD
A group discussion consists of:
The first aspect is one's power of expression. In a group discussion, a candidate has to talk effectively so that he is able to convince others.
For convincing, one has to speak forcefully and at the same time create an impact by his knowledge of the subject. A candidate who is successful in holding the attention of the audience creates a positive impact.
It is necessary that you should be precise and clear. As a rule evaluators do not look for the wordage produced. Your knowledge on a given subject, your precision and clarity of thought are the things that are evaluated. Irrelevant talks lead you nowhere.
You should speak as much as necessary, neither more nor less. Group discussions are not debating stages.
Ability to listen is also what evaluators judge. They look for your ability to react on what other participants say.
Hence, it is necessary that you listen carefully to others and then react or proceed to add some more points. Your behavior in the group is also put to test to judge whether you are a loner or can work in a group.
You should be able to convey your thoughts satisfactorily and convincingly before a group of people. Confidence and level headedness in doing so is necessary.
These add value to your presentation. In case you are not good at it, you might gain by joining an institute that offers specialized courses in public speaking.
For instance, British Council Division's English Language Teaching Centre offers a wide range of courses like conversation s****s, business communication s****s, business writing, negotiation s****s and presentation s****s.
Mostly people attend these courses to improve their communication s****s. Students here are involved in activities which use communication s****s and teachers provide inputs, monitor and facilitate the classes. The course at the Centre makes you confident enough to speak before people without any nervousness.
Knowledge and Ideas Regarding a Given Subject
Knowledge of the subject under discussion and clarity of ideas are important. Knowledge comes from consistent reading on various topics ranging from science and technology to politics. In-depth knowledge makes one confident and enthusiastic and this in turn, makes one sound convincing and confident.
Leadership and Coordinating Capabilities
The basic aim of a group discussion is to judge a candidate's leadership qualities. The examiner withdraws and becomes a silent spectator once the discussion starts.
A candidate should display tactfulness, s****, understanding and knowledge on varied topics, enterprise, forcefulness and other leadership qualities to motivate and influence other candidates who may be almost equally competent.
Exchange of Thoughts
A group discussion is an exchange of thoughts and ideas among members of a group. These discussions are held for selecting personnel in organisations where there is a high level of competition. The number of participants in a group can vary between 8 and 15. Mostly a topic or a situation is given to group members who have to discuss it within 10 to 20 minutes.
The purpose is to get an idea about candidates in a short time and make assessments about their s****s, which normally cannot be evaluated in an interview. These s****s may be team membership, leadership s****s, listening and articulation s****s.
A note is made of your contributions to the discussion, comprehension of the main idea, the rapport you strike, patience, assertion, accommodation, amenability, etc. Body language and eye contact too are important points which are to be considered. .
Addressing the Group as a Whole
In a group discussion it is not necessary to address anyone by name. Even otherwise you may not know everyone's names. It better to address the group as a whole.
Address the person farthest from you. If he can hear you everyone else too can. Needless to add, as for the interview, attend the group discussion in formal dress. The language used should also be formal, not the language used in normal conversations.
For instance, words and phrases like "yar", "chalta hai", "CP", "I dunno", etc. are out. This is not to say you should use a high sounding, pedantic language. Avoiding both, just use formal, plain and simple language. Hinglish, (mixture of Hindi and English) should be discarded.
Confidence and coolness while presenting your viewpoint are of help. See that you do not keep repeating a point. Do not use more words than necessary. Do not be superfluous. Try to be specific. Do not exaggerate.
Start making preparations for interview and group discussions right away, without waiting till the eleventh hour, this is, if and when called for them. Then the time left may not be adequate.
It is important to concentrate on subject knowledge and general awareness. Hence, the prime need for thorough preparation.
Remember, the competition is very tough. Only 460 candidates make it to the final list from 2.75 lakh civil service aspirants each year.
It may so happen that you are called for interviews and group discussions from three or four organizations but are not selected by any. The reason obviously lies in your not being well-prepared.
In a group discussion you may be given a topic and asked to express your views on it. Or in a case study GD, students have to read a case study and suggest ways of tackling the problem.
For this you should have a good general knowledge, need to be abreast with current affairs, should regularly read newspapers and magazines. Your group behaviour and communication s****s are on test, i.e. how you convince the others and how clearly you are able to express your points of view.
You should be articulate, generate ideas, not sound boring, should allow others to speak, and adopt a stand on a given subject. During the course of the GD this stand can even be changed, giving the impression that you are open to accommodate others' viewpoints.
Additional marks may be given for starting or concluding the discussion.
Points to Remember
Knowledge is strength. A 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.
Power to convince effectively is another quality that makes you stand out among others.
Clarity in speech and expression is yet another essential quality.
If you are not sure about the topic of discussion, it is better not to initiate. Lack of knowledge or wrong approach creates a bad impression. Instead, you might adopt the wait and watch attitude. Listen attentively to others, may be you would be able to come up with a point or two later.
A GD is a formal occasion where slang is to avoided.
A GD is not a debating stage. Participants should confine themselves to expressing their viewpoints. In the second part of the discussion candidates can exercise their choice in agreeing, disagreeing or remaining neutral.
Language use should be simple, direct and straight forward.
Don't interrupt a speaker when the session is on. Try to score by increasing your size, not by cutting others short.
Maintain rapport with fellow participants. Eye contact plays a major role. Non-verbal gestures, such as listening intently or nodding while appreciating someone's viewpoint speak of you positively.
Communicate with each and every candidate present. While speaking don't keep looking at a single member. Address the entire group in such a way that everyone feels you are speaking to him or her.
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.
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, but there could be instances when this does not happen, so it is best not to bank on this.
Should I address the panel or the group members?
Don't ever make the mistake of addressing the panel members. The GD is between you and the other members, not the panel members. You must avoid even looking at the panel members while the GD is in progress. Just ignore their existence.
What is the seating arrangement like?
It could be semi-circular, 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.
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 self-introduction prior to starting the discussion and you remember the names) or simply use pronouns like "he" or "she".
Suppose I have a lot to say on the topic, 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.
Contrary to the misconception, the person who talks the most is not necessarily the one who is judged the best. The quality and not the quantity of your contribution is the success factor.
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.
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.
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, but not to the point of getting so distracted looking at your watch that you do not contribute to the discussion.
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.
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. But if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table, then choose a position as close to the centre as possible.
Should we begin the GD by appointing a leader amongst ourselves?
No. You should not. 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.
Can we take a definite stand in the GD and then later on during the GD, switch over to another stand?
Yes, provided you do it the right way. In a GD it is quite likely that some other participant's counter-argument convinces you to your point.
If this happens, then it is best if you accept his argument and explain to the group how your previous argument was true within a narrow range, and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range.
Naturally, it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against a topic before you learn the facts of the argument. Blindly taking a stand will definitely lead you to trouble.
This does not mean you should sit on the fence. You 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 explain it to us?
No. You cannot. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner, it is better to wait for some other participant to explain the meaning of the topic.
So 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.
Should we address the other participants by their names or their assigned numbers?
As far as possible, you should try and avoid names or numbers. It is better to use pronouns such as "he", "she", "you" etc. while referring to the members of the group.
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. It would demonstrate your creativity and originality. Just 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 objective in a GD. If you react emotionally you are likely to lose control over yourself during the group discussion. You have to be calm and logical, not emotional in a GD.
Can I use technical terms or jargon, which is clear to me, but not to the group?
If you have to use technical terms, please do not use abbreviations. 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, and you should make sure you are all on a level playing field.
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).
What is the right time to enter a GD to ensure that I am heard properly?
In any GD, there are crests and troughs during the discussion. The crest is when the noise level is at its peak. The trough is when there is almost total silence.
Ideally, you should enter the GD during the trough period. But in competitive GDs, the crests occur more often and troughs may not occur at all.
In such cases, you could identify the stages in the GD, where ideas dear to you are being discussed and enter the GD irrespective of the noise level.
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, and note down the points that he/she is making.
The moment the noise level reduces a little, enter supporting the powerful speaker. You will have made a strong ally who will carry you through the noise.
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.
Is it beneficial to be the first speaker in a group discussion?
Being 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 GD, it will go in your favour.
If you do this well, you may automatically become the group leader. However 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.
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.
If your content is good, then even if your English might not be great, you must speak it out, rather than be inhibited by lack of good English. You will get credit for soundness of ideas.
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.
But please remember to keep it short and simple because in a competitive GD nobody has the patience to listen to long, drawn out examples.
How much or for how long should I participate?
In a 20 minute GD with 10-12 participants, 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.
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.
How is aggression taken and measured in a GD?
The moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly, you may take it that you are being too aggressive. The degree of the reaction is the measure of your aggression.
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.
Is it true that the person who speaks the most in a GD is the one who is most successful?
This is a myth. Generally the person who has a sound knowledge of the topic and is a clear thinker speaks more. This leads the students into believing that whoever speaks most is successful. But just speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far.
Will I be quizzed about my (or others) participation in the GD?
You may be. Therefore it helps to be alert all through the GD.
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 it is used as a selection tool, not as an elimination technique.
What is the level of accuracy desired in the facts and figures you quote during the GD?
An error margin of 5% is acceptable.
Is motivating other people in the group to speak looked upon favourably?
Depends 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.
Does the moderator have any biases or preconceived notions about the topic?
Ideally the moderator is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. But being a human being, the moderator cannot be totally free from bias. Since this is not a factor within your control, there isn't much point losing sleep over it.
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. Being rude to any participant (male or female) is downright unacceptable. You need not extend any special privileges to a lady.