Group Discussion (GD) is the next phase, following up the Written Ability Test (WAT). If WAT tested how you are able to think about an idea and articulate it coherently well, GD goes one notch above and beyond. It tests how well you are able to put forth your thoughts in a team setting.
Ideally, any Group Discussion has three components.
1. Members :
A Group Discussion will consist of 6-14 members.
2. Topic :
There is a topic of discussion given to the group members.
3. Time :
The time limit of the Group Discussion can be between 6 and 20 minutes, in general.
Just like the Written Ability Test (WAT), the Group Discussion requires a set of guidelines that need to be followed to the extent possible.
1. Be courteous
This is an often overlooked aspect of a Group Discussion. While putting forth your thoughts, views and opinions are of importance, the way you project the ideas is also crucial. Be courteous to all the participants of the Group Discussion.
2. Make eye contact
This is just an extension of being courteous. Always remember that Group Discussion is not just an exercise of how well you are able to put forth your views. Of course, that is an important parameter of the exercise. But above and beyond that, your participation and keenness in being involved in the Group Discussion is also judged by your body language. Eye contact forms the predominant part of your body language.
3. Keep it simple & powerful
The points you present as part of the discussion should be crisp and concise. This does not mean you compromise on the quality of the thoughts you intend to put forth. While speaking is an art, speaking to the point is yet another beast. Conquer it. Rambling is an exercise that will make it obvious you cannot articulate an idea in a comprehensible fashion.
1. Do not patronize
Do not try to express your large-heartedness in the Group Discussion by patronizing the passive members. If someone is passive, you might be inclined to give them a chance. But do not blurt out something on the lines of “Our friend has not spoken. Let us give them a chance and hear them out.” You might have your personal reservations for or against this, but do not do it in a Group Discussion.
2. Do not be rude
If patronizing is one extreme of the Group Discussion spectrum, being rude is another extreme. Never stomp over someone’s trail of thoughts or express rudeness in any form. Sometimes, the other person might opine something that could trigger you, or the particular remark might be unparliamentary. Do not get heated up in a fit of rage, and lose out on a golden opportunity to exhibit your calm.
Equally important is staying away from sly digs, sarcastic remarks and anything that can leave a bad taste to the panel or the fellow members of the Group Discussion.
3. Do not look at the panel
The panel members (the evaluators, in other words) know how to evaluate you. Do not try to look at them to see if they are taking note of you and your words and actions. They are well aware of how each and every member should be evaluated, and they will do that part to perfection.
The focus is on your teamwork and how the engagement is with the group members. If the overall impact of the Group Discussion is good, and every member feels good about the progress of the discussion, it automatically means the final outcome is going to be positive.
4. Do not form a mini group
Among all the ‘don’ts’, this should probably be taken to heart with all seriousness. It is never a great idea to argue in a small group, when there are other members who would like to participate but are not being given a chance.
Oftentimes, a two- or three-member argument in a Group Discussion of 10 members ends up being detrimental to both the active participants as well as the passive ones.
While it is important to not patronize, it is equally crucial to also not let one person or a small sub-group dominate the discussion.
The following ground rules are applicable for both the Group Discussion and the Personal Interview.
1. Be formal. Attire matters.
The way you project itself on the day of the Group Discussion and Personal Interview conveys a lot about your outlook to the interview panel. Hence, the importance of your attire cannot be understated at any cost.
2. Have a reasonable posture. Do not crouch.
You should have a posture that is both comfortable as well as well-received. The way you sit should exhibit a sense of your persona as well as your eagerness in attending the Group Discussion/Personal Interview.
Crouching is essentially a sign that conveys weakness. Do not transmit the impression that you are not ready for the process, even if you feel so. Oftentimes, the way you sit can prove to be a confidence-booster at a personal level. So make sure to maintain a good posture.
3. Do not fiddle with your thumbs.
Irrespective of whether you have a habit of doing this or not, avoid fiddling with your thumbs. It generally comes off as a gesture of panic (which is true in most, if not all, cases).
There are two categories of Group Discussions that each and every candidate needs to be wary of.
1. Fish-market Group Discussion
2. Slow Group Discussion
1. Fish-market Group Discussion:
A fish-market group discussion is where each and every participant tries to overpower every other participant. There is no sense of collaboration, and the team feels as if it is a competition of random riff-raff.
What to do in a fish-market group discussion?
If you find yourself in a fish-market group discussion, do not try to overpower everybody else. It is going to be unnerving to an extent for sure. But do not become yet another participant trying to shout down/over all the others. Chip in a point or two and make your presence felt; do not be passive, but do not go all in as well.
More often than not, the overpowering energy dies down in the first half of the Group Discussion. After five or six minutes, the participants might find themselves at crossroads with no new thought to add. Capitalize on the lack of energy and pump in a new dimension to the group discussion by introducing some point which you had wanted to say from the start of the discussion. This will give you an unassailable edge over the others.
2. Slow Group Discussion:
This is also an equally likely category of Group Discussion. The only difference is that, in this case, the discussion goes mellow right from the start. The participants are very welcoming of each other, and there seems to be no spark to the discussion at all.
In these types of group discussions, it is important to make use of your knowledge on the topic as well as some sensible tactics. When you sense that the discussion is not going anywhere, reserve some points as backup. Chances are that the whole discussion would fizzle out in a matter of few minutes, and all the participants would have no clue how to continue it any further. Introduce the backup points and pump in a new sense of perspective and vigour to the discussion.