Group Discussion and Personal Interview is one of the litmus test to get through a premier B-school. I still remember how I had to dress myself for success. I still remember how introvert I had been and how difficult it gets to crack a GD-PI. I knew after clearing entrance exam, GD-PI is like a do-or-die situation for me: it is either you are in or you are completely out for another whole year. I knew if GD-PI is not cracked this time then the whole 1 year of hard work is going to go complete futile. So you can see the amount of pressure mounting on me at each ticking of time. Well, the first thing I did was to get rid of this pressure which I was building on to myself. I first made myself understand that it was a “DO” situation and there is no question of “DIE” situation. Now, how exactly did I “dress myself for success”?
Reading Magazines, Newspapers and Books: Yes, the first and foremost thing I started doing was keeping my self abreast with current affairs. This was done by reading newspapers like Economic Times, Business Standard and any other journal I could thing would be relevant, I would grab it. Then I would get few business magazines from friends and buy it from stores. Having completed reading magazines I would ensure I spent time enhancing and brushing-up my general knowledge. For me this was very important as I could relate many crucial events with my GD Topics. This would help me in putting across relevant points on the table. In short, keeping updated of current affairs gave me a shot of adrenaline – an air of confidence! This was mainly as I could see my points at the discussion were not only relevant but also short, precise and multiple unique points.
Reading books mainly some of the best sellers was another boost to my confidence. Books like Alchemist, The monk who sold his Ferrari, Rich Dad Poor Dad etc has shaped my continuity in talk, coherence in thought, and concentration in listening. It made me believe that there is another point of view, there is another outlook and approach to the topic. This helped me think out of the box, this taught me that imagination has no limit and I would come with new points. Reading such books is a boost for topics which are complete abstract: “Roses are red, violets are blue”, “Come to a full circle” or “Orange”. Yes these were some of the exact topics I had got during several of my GD discussions for various B-schools.
During my Group Discussions in which I got Selected:
A group of 10 individuals in which 8 were boys and 2 were girls. The moderator had given a topic (The Chinese goods are disrupting the Indian markets) and then had asked to start. The very moment 3 candidates started and they kept on talking irrespective of whether the other one is listening. I knew if I speak it would not make any sense to anyone. I had expected the rowdy person will be eliminated. After a 1 minute of their talk, I suggested the girls too be given a chance to put across their viewpoint. This provided enough to stop them and after the girl spoke I pitched my point which I had thought during the time when other 3 contestants were talking. I spoke 3 valid points and passed in to the person who did not get the chance to speak. Then as the discussion time was about to end, I pulled myself up again and summarised the discussion with points suggested by all the individuals.
In this discussion I learned we need time to think and then structure the ideas. In fact I had created a flowchart and I ensured to use one analogy, one uncommon point apart from few relevant points. Further if someone has already started the discussion, avoid jumping on the running train. Secondly, we need to carefully listen to other speakers and bullet their points in a paper. Thirdly, we have to avoid interrupting when the other speaker has just begun speaking or has not completed his view or sentence. Fourthly, avoid being rowdy or disrespectful and instead you can offer chance to speak to your fellow contestants when the others are not letting you speak and then after a while you can extend the discussion. Last but not the least, you cannot dominate or speak throughout the discussion and should lead the group as a ‘team’.
Starting the discussion:
If you have already mapped the topic and you are confident about it then you can start the discussion. It is a myth that one who starts the discussion has a more probability of getting through the selection. In fact one who has put across valid points and had maintained a positive attitude and has shown team culture are more likely to be selected.
If the discussion has become rowdy, you can turn the table round by not being rowdy and showing your effort through gestures that yes you have a point to put forward. You may try entering the discussion whenever there is an opportunity. Chances are more that the moderator may ask each one to put forward their point of view.
How many times to speak?
There is no thumb rule as to how many times you have to speak. What most moderators notice is how much proactive you have been, and how smartly have you put across your views. You should speak to the point, crisp and ensure some innovative points to be added. You should not speak for the sake of speaking.
How to enter into the discussion?
You can enter the discussion by using sentences like “I completely agree with my friend and I would like to add that….” or “I think the other point of view to this topic is that…” If the discussion is going off the topic then one can take charge of it and can express that “I think we are getting deviated from the main topic and my opinion is…”
How to summarise the discussion?
If you have not spoken then this is a very important and the last attempt to redeem yourself. For this one has to be actively listening and writing the important points. One has to smartly correlate the important points and quickly summaries within a minute. One has to ensure that no new point should be added here as the discussion is over and only the main points have to be summarised. You can probably use sentences like “we had a meaningful discussion and we came to the consensus that….” or “Though we had a meaningful discussion yet we could not come to a consensus. Some of the points discussed were…”
These points had been extremely helpful in several of my group discussions but one cannot deny that group discussions are unpredictable. Each discussion takes its own shape and has a different way forward. One has to be confident and has to be smart to deal with surprises as there are no prescribed formulas to “dress for success”.
Contributed By : Mitesh Agarwal, Class of 2011, IBS Hyderabad