I am writing this post based on personal experience and tips that me and most of my friends followed, who made finally to IIM A, B,C and L also in XLRI, IIFT and FMS, during our fight to win the RAT[CAT] races of our lives.
To give you a brief about GD[what/why?]
A GD is a method to gauge whether the candidate has certain personality traits and/or skills that an institute desires its students possess. This way institutes judge if the candidate fits into its cultural setup, or if the candidate’s personality is going to add a different flavor to the existing culture.
Points that a GD brings out about candidates personality-
Ability to work in a team
Communication skills [including listening, speaking and expressing]
Ability to think on ones fee
How to approach a GD
Always use time given for before discussion starts judiciously and efficiently
Step 1: Read/ listen to the topic very carefully
Step 2: Identify the main ideas and themes about the topic
Step 3: Write your points on the sheet provided and try to structure them [5-6 points are enough]
Tip:- try to remember to link your examples to point from the readings and experiences you had relating them to the main topic
Roles people play during a GD
- Initiating the GD started by introducing the topic to the groups and adding his points
- Facilitating participation of all the groups members, If anyone or few dominate a group moderator tries to control that,
- Keeping the content of discussion around the core issue
- Giving and asking for information & reactions & critiques
- Discussing and questioning each other’s interpretations of materials
- Summarizing what the group has said and moving on giving new direction to the discussion
- Final conclusion
Strategies you may adopt
Competing without a strategy will take you nowhere, unless you are planning to reach nowhere.
Depending upon the comfort level with the topic you must decide in the beginning which role will you be playing in a particular GD. Same strategy for all the GDs that you may be participating in may not be a good strategy as a person a different level of comfort with different topics. So choose a role carefully rather strategically. If you are comfortable playing multiple roles and very swiftly you can switch roles and use your strengths to your advantage.
Normally, opening a GD involves these very important things:
- Define the topic of the GD if there is a need to define it for others (clarity)
- Set boundaries/parameters that you may feel will help the GD to be discussed without ambiguity.
- In case you have a story/ incident/ experience for the topic, then start with that.
- Creative GD will be started with your interpretation and the supporting thought process for the interpretation.
No matter what role you choose, but you have to make sure you put your own points forward and do your job by adding some valuable points to the discussion.
- As most of the candidates pounce on the opportunity to open the topic and lot of people speak simultaneously and no one is heard. Better strategy could be to choose roles from 2-6 so that it will be easier to pitch in you points.
- It is always good to substantiate your point with some facts. Most Business Schools ensure that they pick up those students who have some data on the topic or related discussions wherein the students can compliment their point of view or the stand they might take. This approach gives an impression that candidate has a rational thought process and knows how to built arguments.
Dos and Don’ts
- You must ensure that the group hears you. If the group hears you, so will the evaluator. That does not mean that you shout at the top of your voice and be noticed for the wrong reasons.
- You have to be assertive. If you are not a very assertive person, you will have to simply learn to be assertive for those 15 minutes. Remember, assertiveness does not mean being bull-headed or being arrogant.
- Participate in as many practice GDs as possible before you attend the actual GD. There is nothing like practice to help you overcome the fear of talking in a GD.
- The quality of what you said is more valuable than the quantity.
- Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not. Be yourself.
- A group discussion is your chance to be more vocal. The evaluator wants to hear you speak.
- Take time to organize your thoughts. Think of what you are going to say.
- Seek clarification if you have any doubts regarding the subject.
- Don’t start speaking until you have clearly understood and analyzed the subject.
- Work out various strategies to help you make an entry: initiate the discussion or agree with someone else’s point and then move onto express your views.
- Opening 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.
- Your body language says a lot about you – your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.
- Language skills are important only to the effect as to how you get your points across clearly and fluently.
- Be assertive not dominating: try to maintain a balanced tone in your discussion and analysis.
- Don’t lose your cool if anyone says anything you object to. The key is to stay objective: Don’t take the discussion personally.
- Always be polite: Try to avoid using extreme phrases like: `I strongly object’ or `I disagree’. Instead try phrases like: `I would like to share my views on…’ or `One difference between your point and mine…’ or “I beg to differ with you”
- Brush up on your leadership skills: motivate the other members of the team to speak and listen to their views. Be receptive to others’ opinions and do not be abrasive or aggressive.
- If you have a group of like-minded friends, you can have a mock group discussion where you can learn from each other through giving and receiving feedback.
- Be yourself. Try not to react and get into a heated argument rather respond and give a very cogent argument
- Read a lot and make yourself comfortable about the latest issues