Entries Tagged 'GD / PI / CV' ↓

What Role You Play In A Group Discussion?

Everytime we have a GD, participants play some or the other familiar role in it.

1. Mr. Brain/Plant :
• He brings in a lot of substance and comes up with wide interpretations of the topic.
Downside: It is difficult to stop him, as he is preoccupied with topic discussion as opposed to group discussion. He is happily obvious to simple things like who is sitting next to him. At the end of the GD if you happen to ask him whether the person sitting next to him was a boy or a girl, the answer would likely be ‘I do not know’.

2. Shopkeeper :
• He is the sales man who can sell anything, has the gift of the gab, a very strong ability to relate to people and be at the centre of things.
Downside: He does not usually come up with original thoughts himself. Needs Mr. Brains to feed him with ready-made ideas that he can sell.

3. Watchman :
• His role is to maintain order in the group, usually content is low.
• Pre-occupied with directing the group process such as controlling entry and exit of participants.
• He is crucial for meeting time commitments made to the panel. Especially, in ensuring consensus.

4. Critic :
• He criticizes everybody’s points without contributing anything new.

5. The Butcher :
• Does great service to the group by enhancing the quality of content by not letting participants get away with just about anything.
• Is most welcome in a group which has one or two aggressive elements in it.

6. The Spectator or The Passenger:
• Is involved in the proceedings but plays a limited role.
• Contribution is very limited and does not affect the out come of the group task.

So What Role Should You Specialize In?
Each role has several benefits. However, strong attachment to any single role throughout the GD could limit your chances of success.

What is more important is that you demonstrate leadership at every moment. You must be able to move across these roles as the situation demands. Anyone seen to be Performing more than three of these roles will definitely make a strong impact on the on the panel. Mobility is the keyword in becoming effective in GDs.

The key to success in GDs is to be able to effortlessly move from one role to the other depending on what the situation demands.

What is a Role Play?

A role-play type of GD is one where a situation is described and each person in the group is asked to assume a specific role in the same.

You must completely step into the role and your reasoning will have to be consistent with role you have assumed.

The participant, in this specific case, needs to appreciate the gravity of the situation and generate appropriate reasoning to facilitate decision making for the group.

What to watch and read…

Always keep your eyes open to learn everything that happens around you !!
Discussion Programmes on News Channels E.g. The Big Fight on NDTV 24×7

India Business Hour. A Great package of Business and General News.CNBC - TV18 Mon to Fri @ 9:00 PM.

The Apprenticeits. A reality show to recruit apprentice for Donald trump US real estate moghul.
Friday 9PM repeat on Sunday 3PM

The Challenge Quiz show based on biz CNBC-TV 18 Sunday 1200 noon, Saturday 1230 pm.

Trial by fire. A competition between brilliant minds of best B schools judged by eminent business personalities on CNBCTV 18.

Hard Talks. A Talk Show on International Current Affairs on BBC every Sunday Evening

YOUNG TURKS. YOUNG ACHIEVERS on CNBC-TV 18 on Sunday-11-30 am,10.30 pm.

We the people. Its a debating show NDTV 24×7sunday 8pm.

Make a “GD Notebook

Read up thoroughly one topic per day. Sources could be any Magazine - Outlook, India today, The daily newspaper etc. Make a summary of the topic in the form of 10 points and put it down in your notebook. You would have knowledge of 60 topics in 2 months. On the day before the GD refer to your treasure of points on various current topics and crack the GD/PI
Foreign Correspondent. Its a show about what the world thinks about India. On NDTV every Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Tips For Group Discussion

A good level of general awareness will come in handy so that you aren’t at a loss of words on certain issues. Understand the topic and analyze it mentally before speaking. Be clear about the purpose and content of your viewpoint. One should be able to communicate his views in an effective manner to everyone. Be clear in speech, audible but not too loud and above all remain confident.

Remember the six C’s of effective communication - Clarity, Completeness, Conciseness, Confidence, Correctness and Courtesy.

You should maintain eye contact with all others in the group and not focus on a particular person for he may benefit from that. Be responsive to ideas from other people and seem to be very receptive and open-minded but don’t allow others to change your own viewpoint…

Starting the discussion is considered to be good however it isn’t that important; what is important is that you speak for a period long enough for you to be able to communicate your viewpoint.

Always maintain your calm and never get aggressive. If you haven’t been able to talk then one can cut in saying “Excuse me, but what I think is ……….” or something of that sort. Never lose your temper and never attack anyone on a personal front. Your attitude should be one of cooperation and not one of conflict. Don’t lose sight of the goal of the discussion. Listen to any criticisms and give them a thought before trying to defend your views.

How To Contribute Meaningfully In A GD??

There are always two ways to look at any topic: for or against.
Take the example of economic liberalization. It can be argued that it was a very good thing since a number of foreign companies came into the country, bringing technology and efficiency. Employment and growth rate improved. The people could buy all the world class products which earlier had to be smuggled.

On the other hand, it can also be argued that all kinds of non-essential goods came into the country, like hamburgers, fried chicken and soda water. The infrastructure remained poor. There was no fresh growth as the MNCs simply bought the Indian companies. he technology they imported was outdated and most of the goods were so expensive that most people could not buy them. Liberalization was trumpeted to be a good thing since politicians were using it to rake in personal wealth.

Whatever personal views one may have, it is important to know both sides of the argument. If the discussion is heading towards a particular direction, a candidate can take a totally opposite view and consequently will become the centre of the discussion. Of course one must be able to defend one’s viewpoints and therefore the need to have read widely. In the case of liberalization, many people will defend it, since that is the viewpoint most often published in newspapers. If a student can bring in an opposing viewpoint and mention some convincing reasons, there is no reason why he will not be selected.

What matters the most in a GD is whether any meaningful contribution was made by the person. A candidate will score well if he shows leadership qualities, that is, of guiding the group towards a consensus. It is clear that one should have read a lot if he is to exhibit any depth of knowledge. If you have kept up with the newspapers and magazines, it will certainly be of help. Look at the last 12 issues of the current affair magazines and you will find all the likely current topics discussed. Read carefully the debates and argumentative questions and chances are that you will get one of these topics for discussion. Read also items of economic importance and learn the figures of growth rates, GDP, deficits and so on.

The trouble is that most students have not faced anything like the GD before. How is one to speak in a group of 15 strangers in a language we do not usually speak? One way is to read about a topic and then debate with parents, uncles or elder cousins. Tell them to ask you questions and try to trap you. The more you do this, the more clear will your own thoughts become. Of course practice in a larger group can be obtained only by joining a professional institute.

Another way to practice is to tape your speech. Try to speak about a topic for one full minute into the tape recorder. When you listen to the tape, you will be able to spot your mistakes, the points on which you falter and the words which you cannot easily speak. You will also be able to know whether you make any sense or not. Ask your friends to listen to the tape critically. Often, people can discover their weaknesses and speech impairments by this method.

You can also use mirror therapy. Stand before a mirror and speak extempore on any topic. Practice sounding assertive and firm. If you think your voice is soft or shrill, especially for girls, speak loudly in front of the mirror as if you are speaking to a stranger. Have a conversation with yourself. The mirror will tell you whether you have a habit of looking away while speaking. It will tell you about your body language also. These will be invaluable insights for participating in groups. You must look at all the members when addressing them. Looking away will cause you to lose your chance and the other person will carry on without letting you complete. The mirror will also stop you from fidgeting, as many people are prone to do when they are speaking or are nervous. The therapy will be greatly enhanced if you can get your family members or friends to practice with you.

Entering a Discussion

Entering any discussion is the most important part. It can either make or break your impression in one go!!

Take care that you do not stray from the topic. One way to avoid this is to write it down and keep it in front of you. By periodically looking at it, you can arrange your thoughts mentally. Remember that the interjections should always be in the form of a paragraph, not a question. Do not get into cross talk with any person in the group. Do not start quarrelling if someone is against your stand. Instead, address the group.

In any GD, a common situation is that everybody wants to speak all at once and some individuals will dominate on account of their loudness. After all, everybody wants to make a mark in the limited time and it is survival of the fittest. Making an interjection at this stage is rather difficult.

Assume a leadership role if you do not have much to say. Give a chance to others who have not spoken. Guide the discussion by restoring order. Keep an eye on the time and after 10 minutes or so, begin summing up. This will show your leadership qualities. However, if you do not contribute in any other way, this strategy will not be sufficient to see you through.

Interjections should be made without being rude. Do not cut into mid-sentence. On the other hand, if someone cuts into your speech, politely ask to be heard: “I would like to complete what I was saying….” rather than rudely asking a person to shut up. Sometimes all these rules do not work, especially if the group is a rowdy one. Since it is survival of the fittest, do not be cowed down and make a bold effort to make yourself heard.

Start off with meta-language: “I agree with you, but…” or “We have heard many viewpoints and I would like to say….” Do not lose your cool if nobody listens. It might pay to raise your voice for the opening sentence and then go ahead to make your point.

Never criticize. If you do not agree with a particular viewpoint, start with: “You may be right, but I feel….” or even “I agree with you on certain points but there is a contrary opinion that….” Be polite but firm.

In a loud GD where there are three or four aggressive participants, and where a number of people tend to speak at the same time, it becomes difficult for others to get a chance to speak. This is the most frequent problem encountered by participants. There is no foolproof solution to this problem. And such a situation is pretty much likely to prevail during the actual GD that you participate in. However, it is crucial that you speak. How can you do this?

Some guidelines on interjecting in a loud GD: You will have to decide which one is appropriate.

Enter the troughs: Every GD has its highs and lows. There are times when the noise level is high and times when it is low. You could wait for the lows and time your interjection then. However, in some GDs, if one waits for lows, he/she would never get a chance to speak.

Enter after a person has made his point: The success of an interjection depends not only on assertiveness but also on the receptiveness of others. If you interject when someone else has just begun speaking, before he has made his point, it is unlikely that he will let you have your way. On the other hand, if you wait till he has made some of his points, he will be more amenable to letting you speak. But don’t wait too long!

Enter with a supportive statement: A useful way of starting your interjection is by supporting a point that has just been made. People will let you speak if they think you agree with them or if you praise them. Try starting by saying something like, “I agree with that point and I would like to add . . .” Alternatively, praise the person who had just spoken by saying, “I think that is a very important point . . . “. In all probability, he will let you speak. Once you have the floor, you could either extend the argument or you could switch tracks by saying, ” . . . however, before we spend more time on that issue we should be discussing . . .”

Enter by increasing volume: The most natural way of entering when you find that others are not listening is to raise your voice. This is not the smartest way of interjecting and in a GD where everyone is shouting, there is only a slight chance that it would work. To be effective, however, you will have to combine this tool with some of the others mentioned, as it is unlikely to succeed on its own.

A common situation is that whatever points you have thought of have already been said by someone else. Do not become nervous should this happen. Instead, quickly assess the situation and the direction of the discussion. Take a few deep breaths and think whether anything has been missed out or whether you can turn the discussion around. Usually, there is always some uncovered ground and a person can steer the discussion in a new direction. “We have been discussing the positive side of the matter”, you can say. But there is a more serious dimension that we have ignored….” Chances are that you will become the centre of discussion after this. Even if you have not spoken during the first half of the session, you will have turned it around to your advantage.

Success in a Group Discussion

Making your GD a big SUCCESS and coming out with flying colors!!

Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not. Be yourself so the employer gets to know the real you.

• A group discussion is your chance to be more vocal. The point of interest to the evaluator is to hear you speak.

Take time to think of what you are going to say - if allowed, take a piece of paper and a pen with you and jot down your thoughts, before verbalizing them. This could help you create the right framework for your discussion.

• If you have any doubts regarding the subject or about what another team member has said, ask for clarification.

• 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.

Do not be swayed when you are told that opening the discussion is 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.

• The score you receive depends not only on your verbal communication, but also on non-verbal skills. 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.

Be patient: 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…’

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.

Apart from the above points, the panel will also judge team members for their alertness and presence of mind, problem-solving abilities, ability to work as a team without alienating certain members, and creativity.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t make it after your first group discussion… the best possible preparation for a group discussion is to learn from your past mistakes…

Success Factors !!

Group discussion is an important dimension of the job selection process. In today’s context, the organizations are interested in team players rather than individual contributors even if they are excellent performers by themselves.

Employers during group discussion evaluate the candidates’ potential to be a leader and also his/her ability to work in teams. Normally group discussions are used in the selection process for management trainees and executive positions. Employers are looking for candidates who have potential to be executives and to lead teams of people.

What the panel looks for?

All that one observes in a GD can be categorized into two broad areas: the Content and the Process.

• The content is all about the ‘matter’ (or the ‘what’) spoken in the GD. Whereas, the process refers to the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ of the GD.
• Both are equally important and need adequate attention at all stages.
• A high quality contribution with no regard to the ‘process’ is as suicidal as one which is high on packaging with little content.

Critical success factors in a GD..

Cognitive skills or knowledge:
The most important aspect of your contribution to a GD is the quality of content (QOC), which is reflected in the points you make, knowledge of the relevant subject, and the supportive examples you give.

Comprehension of the core idea:
It is essential to deliver high quality content. But to do that, you should speak on the topic and not deviate. The panel basically wants to see whether you have identified the crux of the problem and whether you are offering relevant solutions.

Logical reasoning:
It includes understanding the topic, generating quality arguments, analysis and a progressive approach to a justifiable conclusion. This is one of the necessary attributes to be seen in an influential participant. Such people convey an impression of being open minded and logic driven rather than opinionated.

Behavioral and personality skills:
This includes certain attributes like rapport-building, team membership, participation, patience, assertion and accommodation, amenability, leadership, etc.

Communication skills:
You should be able to articulate your thoughts properly and you should also be able to understand what others are trying to say.

Clarity of thoughts:
In whatever you say, follow a logical sequence/order rather then presenting the points in some bits and pieces.

Body language and eye contact:
These are some tools which check your level of confidence and whether you can work together effectively in a group or not. So, be sure to maintain eye contact with everyone in the group.

Tips to handle group discussions..

Group Discussion tells an employer how a prospective employee can function in a team; whether the candidate is a leader; and how the candidate is able to handle groups. Here, Ms. Hemamalini, an HR practitioner, shares her views and experiences of group discussions - both as a candidate and as an employer.

“Some years ago, I had applied to an MNC for a job in their HR team. I was called to attend a group discussion. I was a part of an 8-member group, and found that most of the other group members were from premier business schools, with a couple of years of experience more than mine. In comparison I was only a fresher. As the discussion began I soon realized that they seemed to go by the book, as far as preparations for the discussion went!

Theoretically, the person who takes the lead in a group discussion is supposed to have an edge over the others. However, I have found that taking the lead and speaking first is a two-edged sword: You can either be a fantastic success and win the confidence of the group as well as the evaluating panel, or your attempt could make you the laughing-stock of the group.

In this particular instance, two of the participants were straining at the leash, and both wanted to begin first! One got in ahead by a few seconds, but the second made up for his delay in volume. As a result, there was utter chaos for a couple of minutes, with each trying to out-shout the other. A few other members, realizing what the matter was, tried to join the fray. I was aghast but decided not to add to the noise!

After a few minutes, when there was a pause, I asked: `Now with all your support can we all get together to discuss the matter at hand? Perhaps we could start by speaking in turn, so that everyone’s opinion can be heard?’ The others looked blank for a moment, but realized what they were doing and spoke one after the other! By not joining the racket and by getting the group to follow some discipline, I was acknowledged as the team leader. Later, I was told that my calm and sensible behavior had also impressed the evaluating panel. An unexpected outcome, as I only wanted to get the discussion on track!

Another thing employers rely upon to learn more about you is your body language. A candidate who appears professional (or is not too overbearing) is more likely to be noticed favorably by the panel. And, of course, language skills are vital. Speaking fluently and clearly is an asset, but you must be able to organize your thoughts before you speak. Your ability to conceptualize, throw new insights into the discussion is being evaluated.

Be polite - it never hurts to say `Please’ or `Excuse me’ - and it creates a good impression! Avoid phrases like `I strongly disagree’ or `definitely not’. As an employer, I am more impressed by candidates who are able to lead subtly than by those who get their way by being loud and abrasive. The candidate’s knowledge of the field may be sound, but a certain degree of maturity and wisdom are essential to effectively implement any task.

In my experience, employers are more impressed by a candidate whose analytical skills are sharp, who is focused on the matter at hand, and who is astute. Candidates who are receptive to others’ opinions, and whose own opinions are flexible enough to accommodate someone else’s suggestions, are more likely to make it to the interview stage. I have found that being assertive without being aggressive is an invaluable skill during group discussions.

While preparing for the group discussion, read as much as you can - there are plenty of books and magazines that provide hints on how to handle group discussions. But remember these books and magazines are not any substitute for your common sense and even instinct. My own personal experience only at the group discussion I mentioned earlier reconfirms the same. …. While I made it to the interview stage, the initiators of the discussion did not make it!

Strategies for a successful GD

Sailing through Group Discussions successfully is an art. Try & Follow a few paths given for the successful landing. However, these rules should not be blindly followed. Instead, they should be given a thought and followed in accordance to your own comfort and suitability.

Be Natural: The best mantra is ‘to be your natural self’. Do not manufacture artificial responses. See a GD or an interview as just an extension of any other routine situation you encounter. This will induce spontaneity in your responses and will save you the unnecessary “What should I do if . . .?” problem.

Must Speak
: The first principle of participating in a GD is that you “must” speak.

For any GD, take a piece of paper and a pen with you and use them unless specifically asked by the evaluators not do so. Before you start speaking, think through the major issues in the topic in the first two minutes. Jot down points on the paper or mentally work out the framework for analysis. Start speaking only when you have understood and analyzed the topic. If another participant has started the discussion even before you have read and understood the topic, you could try to ask the person to wait while you finish. It may, however, be better to continue with your analysis, while listening to what is being said, and to speak only when you are ready.

If you do not understand the topic, then either ask the group what the topic means and accept that your ignorance will be obvious to all or else wait. May be the meaning will become clear after a few minutes of the discussion, when someone else discusses it.

Avoid speaking in turn as it leads to an unnatural discussion. A GD involves a free-flowing exchange of ideas among participants. Even though there will definitely be chaos in most competitive GDs, as all participants will be keen to be heard, any suggestion of order, such as speaking, in turn, is unacceptable.

We have never seen a strategy of speaking turn by turn succeed in the hundreds of GDs we have evaluated so far. Also there have been no instances of anyone being selected after suggesting that participants speak turn by turn.

Opening a Discussion: Opening a discussion is a high risk — high return strategy. In most GDs, the opening speaker is the person who is likely to get the maximum uninterrupted air time. The reason is simple — most other participants will still be trying to understand the basic issues in the topic, or are too nervous to speak and are waiting for someone else to start. Therefore, the evaluators get the best chance to observe the opening speakers. Now this is a double-edged sword. If the opening speaker talks sense, he will get credit because he opened the discussion and took the group in the right direction.

If, on the other hand, the first speaker’s start lacks substance, he will attract the undivided attention of the evaluators to his shortcomings. He will be marked as a person who speaks without thinking and merely for the sake of speaking. Also, he may be marked as someone who leads the group in the wrong direction and does not make a positive contribution to the group.

So remember, speaking first can make or mark your GD performance depending on how you handle it. Speak first only if you have enough sensible things to say. Otherwise, keep yourself silent and let someone else start.

Entering a Discussion: In any GD, a common situation is that everybody wants to speak all at once and some individuals will dominate on account of their loudness. After all, everybody wants to make a mark in the limited time and it is survival of the fittest. Making an interjection at this stage is rather difficult.

Start off with meta-language: “I agree with you, but…” or “We have heard many viewpoints and I would like to say….” Do not lose your cool if nobody listens. It might pay to raise your voice for the opening sentence and then go ahead to make your point.

Never criticize. If you do not agree with a particular viewpoint, start with: “You may be right, but I feel….” or even “I agree with you on certain points but there is a contrary opinion that….” Be polite but firm.

In a loud GD where there are three or four aggressive participants, and where a number of people tend to speak at the same time, it becomes difficult for others to get a chance to speak. This is the most frequent problem encountered by participants. There is no foolproof solution to this problem. And such a situation is pretty much likely to prevail during the actual GD that you participate in. However, it is crucial that you speak. How can you do this?

Closing a Discussion: Try and summarize the discussion at the end. In the summary, do not merely restate your point of view, also accommodate dissenting viewpoints. If the group did not reach a consensus, say so in your summary, but remember, do not force a consensus. Forcing a consensus could end up working against you.