What is group Discussion?
A discussion by a group of people that involves a free exchange of thought and ideas among the members of the group seems the most appropriate definition of this popular method of selection process of entry level jobs and for admission into institutes of higher education.
Why is it so popular?
The candidate shows his or her true picture during the course of the group discussion. The single most important reason why this form of selection process is becoming more and more popular is the fact that it compels you to speak. Which other selection process allow you to select one or two persons from amongst 10 to 12 in a short span of 10 to 15 minutes? That is group discussion, GD as it is fondly referred to by students. The second reason why GD is used is that is gives the selectors on opportunity to assess certain traits and skills of the candidate that are not possible to observe in the application form, CV, written exam and possibly also interview. Some of those traits that are displayed by the candidate are leadership, analytical, problem solving, communication skills, ability to handle situations and people and ability to be a team player.
What is being assessed?
Knowledge: reading habits, awareness, sensitivity to issues and interest in happening around you will define your knowledge level.
Logical thinking: quality of argument, understanding of the subjecting discussed, justification of your stance taken and clarity of thoughts define assessment of logical thinking.
Group skills: perhaps the most important since it includes leadership, communication skills, body language, listening building a team and growing with people.
What are my objectives in the group?
To be SEEN to have contributed MEANINGFULLY and ATTEMPT to achieve the right consensus.
TO be SEEN: if the group hears you then you will be heard by the evaluator. For that, you need to be assertive (not aggressive). If you are cowed down by an aggressive group then I think it’s time to say good- bye to the GD. In no GD you get a chance to speak, you have to create or make your chances.
MEANINGFUL contribution: will suggest that you have a good knowledge base, are able to structure arguments logically and are a good communicator. It is a myth and definitely not true that you have to speak frequently, loudly and for a long time. The quality of what you speak is more important than the quantity. Do not get demoralized watching some aggressive participants being ‘there’ every time if you have spoken sense and have been heard, it could be good enough in a fish market GD. Generally, a few minutes are given before the start to job down your thoughts. Here it pays to think laterally. Everyone will state the obvious. Can I be different? Can I taken the group in case it gets stuck? Can you suggest fresh direction? Can I Make it more relevant? In time of chaos, can I be the one who restores order? Can my degree of influence be seen? In order words, you may not speak for the sake of speaking.
ATTEMPT: to build a consensus: how can 10-15 competitive people with different viewpoints all trying to be more different from other reach a consensus? Yes, it is not expected. But can I attempt to build a consensus? This is an important facet of GD since it demonstrates a good team building and decision making quality. Open minded person who appreciates others points of view and tries to resolves contradictions and arguments of others in the group, keeps the discussion on target, summarizes in intervals, restates and uses active listening skills and is not emotional and reactive are a few ways of demonstrating the ability to build consensus.
Should I give chance to others?
If you have spoken and you notice someone is trying to speak and does not have a chance to speak the may be you could give him a chance the next time he tries. We do not recommend giving chance to a person who has never spoken or even attempted to speak, for he may not say anything when you give him the chance and you may end up looking foolish. It’s a good idea to let people feel that you are the leader or a de facto chairperson of the group. But do not try and impose a system where everyone get a chance to speak in turns. GD is meant for a free flowing discussion so it is best to allow it to proceed naturally. Good eye contact and talking to everyone and not one will largely carry people with you. If you are in a week group and no one is speaking then go ahead and enjoy. Do not agree only for the sake of building consensus. In fact, you should agree to disagree and put your thoughts to justify the same. Do not take a vote on the topic to arrive at a consensus. It is a discussion and not an election.
Should I take a strong stand for or against right in the beginning?
In Theory yes. But not a Good idea to do so in practice. Then you will be antagonizing the people in the group who are not with your thought and then it will become difficult to carry them along. We recommend that first you outline major issues in a balanced manner and then state your stand. You are being evaluated on how you think more then what you think.
Should I be the first to speak?
In most cases, the opener gets more uninterrupted airtime to speak and the evaluator gets the best chance to observe. But this is a double edged sword. If you talk sense you get credit since then you take the group in the right direction otherwise you draw attentions of the evaluator on your shortcoming rather than anything else. So remember speaking first is a high-risk high return strategy. Speak first only if you have something sensible to say.
Should I use humor?
Humor cannot be the main plank of your participation. Neither should you make attempt to be humorous. Moreover, certainly telling anecdotes is not for GD. But while putting forth your argument if you happen to say something witty it is just fine.
Are there any myths regarding GD?
- You should be aggressive
- You should speak more
- You should speak is favour
- You should cut down your opponents
- You should make others agree to your point
- You should be an individual speaker
- You should project yourself in style.