GD and Personal Interview Experiences


GD at IBSI remember the day when I had received my confirmation call for GD in one of the topmost management schools in India. I was glad to be one step closer to one of the best institutes in India but at the same time I was aware that from this point onwards smart planning and preparation would be the key to ensure my selection there.

I realized that management institutes use group discussions as a tool to evaluate many candidates in one go. They gauge and select students with personality traits and skills in communications that are desirable in specific areas of management.

With less than a month to go I had to prepare for GD and PI. I arrived at separate strategies to tackle my GD and PI. For my GD, below are the top three areas that I worked upon daily until my GD day.

  1. General Awareness:

I used to read newspapers daily but for a GD just being aware was not enough. What mattered the most was how I structured my ideas and how well I present it for a discussion. I made it a habit to note down key points on important topics. If the topic was of controversial nature I always tried to note down two points in favor of the topic and two points against it.

  1. English Language:

I decided to speak only in English for some days. Initially it felt a bit awkward but after a couple of days, I found myself to be much more fluent and confident than how I had started. Watching English news and movies also kept the momentum strong.

  1. Body Language:

Well, this was the most important area. I knew that I will be watched and then evaluated on how I walk into the room, how I take my seat, how I greet others, how I look at others, what I speak and more importantly how I speak.

How was I supposed to find out how I look while I do all these things?

So I practiced in front of the mirror till I was comfortable. Later on, I came to know that even great public speakers have used the mirror to get better with their skill!

My GD Experience: The topic: ‘Pink’

We were called in groups of ten. There were two panelists inside the room. I looked at all the panelists and wished them as I entered.  We were made to sit in a semi circular arrangement. We were being observed all the time.

We were given two minutes to think before the discussion was initiated. The first candidate set the tone by throwing a question: “Pink is for girls what blue is for boys. So can pink as a color be generalized for feminism?”

Because the group was strong I was not getting an opportunity to pitch in. So while a candidate was making her point and was taking a pause, I pitched in. I started by agreeing to the point made by my previous candidate and then added by providing two current examples in marketing where the color was being used to target a specific audience in the market. Then the discussion went on to touch multiple topics like commercialization, gentleness, female consumers, ‘Pink Floyd’ and so on.  The panelists then asked one of the candidates to conclude the discussion.

Overall the quality of discussion was very good. Six candidates from our group including me were shortlisted for the interview. My strategy for GD worked for me! And contrary to the popular thinking, a good group discussion need not be aggressive always!


personal interview at IBSI had cracked my GD and was sitting outside the interview room waiting for my turn to come. I was overwhelmed, with feelings ranging from anticipation, nervousness, confusion and confidence. I controlled my feelings and took a deep breath as I entered the room. There were two people in the panel; an elderly lady and middle aged professor. We greeted each other and with permission I took my seat.

Then came the first (and the most anticipated) question: Tell me something about yourself.

I took a pause and then told about my background (details about my educational background, my favorite engineering subject, work experience and hobbies). I made sure that I took some time to explain my job role in details. I knew that I had to engage the interviewers in the area of my interest (work experience) so that they start asking me questions around it. Storytelling helped.

In the next few minutes the interviewers asked me different questions around my work experience- business processes in my work area, latest company news and the things which I liked the most in my work. I was prepared for such questions and I made sure that I answered them in a structured manner and backed it with real time data.

Since, I had only a year of work experience, one tricky question which the panel asked me was “ Will your employer not be upset if you leave your job for pursuing higher studies only after a year of work?”

This question took me off-guard, but I slowly collected my thoughts and replied, “Our Company, as a policy, encourages its employees to pursue higher studies. Hence, the question of my boss or supervisor getting upset over my resignation will not arise. On the contrary, I am very sure that my manager will be very supportive of my decision. Also, as alumni, I will always have the option of re-applying for any open positions in our company in the future. After my higher studies, if there are any job roles that fit my qualifications and aspiration, then I will certainly remain open to exploring that option”. My answer went down well with the interviewers and they did not probe into that area further.

The panel took notice of the fact, that I was a Mechanical Engineer and they asked me some basic fundamental questions from Thermodynamics. I was able to answer most of them. For the ones that I could not answer, I preferred not to guess and to be honest with them. I told them, that I could not recollect the answers at the moment. Here, I would like to mention that while answering the introductory question (“Tell me something about yourself?”), I made sure that I mentioned about my favorite subject as I was prepared for it. So being specific helps the Interviewers to understand your areas of interest.

Another question, which I recollect, was “ Why would you want to do your MBA from our college?” I was prepared for this one and I replied: ”This college is known for the quality of its faculty, students, alumni, infrastructure, research, extra curricular activities and placement. As student in this college I will get access to some of the best minds in the country, research facilities, a great professional network, brilliant placement opportunities with top companies in the country and above all a life changing experience.” Since I researched the college website and additional news related to the college, I was able to throw in some data when I answered this question. I remember taking the names of some alumni of the college who was in news during that time, the names of the annual events conducted by the college and some of the internship facilities provided in the Campus. The panel was impressed with the data and they asked no further questions in that areas. College research does help.

Then there was a very simple and common question, which they asked me-“ Tell me about your weaknesses”. I replied- “ I consider them as the areas of self development for me. My primary area of self- development is to improve my public communications. Though, I am a good in public speaking, I would want to take my presentations to the professional level. For this, I am already working with my mentor in my office and I have also joined the Toastmasters International Club. I have realized that working on my action plan has helped me a lot. I plan to continue improving my communications”. The interviewers nodded and I knew that they appreciated my answer because I did not try to ‘cover up’ my weaknesses by projecting them as strengths. I was honest and I had a plan to work on my weakness.

Overall the interview was very satisfying. I prepared for it and was glad that I also contributed in steering the interview in the desired directions. The results were out in the evening and I was very glad to see my name on the selection list.

I hope my experience is helpful to the candidates who are to face their interviews soon.

Contributed By : Sanjit Das, Class of 2005, IBS Hyderabad

How to prepare for GD/PIs?

gd and piI hope your written exam scores must have surprised most of you by now. In case, you are pleasantly surprised only then you can expect to get a call for the next rounds of evaluations i.e. GD-PIs. The step that you have just cleared (the written exam) is the easiest one as you had the liberty of guessing and solving by eliminative approach as the exams were of MCQ type. But it is in the GD-PI round, you will see that things have become more interesting, more challenging and needless to say have gone to the next level, where the focus will solely be on you. Ever conscious or unconscious action of yours will be judged in order to make or break your career by assuring a seat in top b-schools.

The sole purpose of a group discussion is to evaluate your capability to discuss and work in a team as a team player and your listening capabilities. There is a myth that the person, who speaks in the loudest voice and consumes maximum air time during discussion, gets selected. Please understand that nobody ‘likes’ an aggressive and obnoxious person who enforces his views on others in a team set-up. And in GD, the whole onus of you getting selected lies on your ‘likeability’ quotient in the eyes of the panel. Be sure that your presence is felt throughout the GD by the group members and you contribute positively in the discussion. By positively one should understand that, as a team member you are expected to bring out different and relevant angles to the discussion and yet help the group’s cause in arriving at a consensus by giving a properly spaced out appearance in the course of the discussion.

As mentioned above, unconsciously many candidates tend to do a one on one discussion in a GD and lose eye-contact with other members of the group. This can be detrimental towards your progress because a member of a group you are expected to address each and every member of the group when you are putting forward your point. You have to make your chances to get into a GD because nobody is so generous but do make sure to wait for the pauses at the end when a member is putting forward its point. Don’t interrupt in between. Be assertive in your arguments and back them up with numbers if you have. As a group, ‘We could have done it this way’ leaves more impact than ‘We should do it this way’. Another myth is that the one who starts the GD scores the brownie points is partially true. Partially because, if you are starting a GD you are expected to set the tone of the whole discussion but if candidate fumbles there, it goes against him as being irresponsible and superficial. Morale of the story is ‘Don’t be a pillion rider by supporting other members of the group or acknowledging them, but drive the discussion’.

mba graduatesAfter the fish market of GD, you are in for the most herculean and most important task, the Personal Interview. Be prepared with questions as simple as Why MBA, to the most difficult ones as What if we don’t select you. Having a thorough idea of the industry in which you are working or you intend to work will be very handy and most importantly you must be ‘able to connect the dots’ between the above answers. Most interviewers decide in the first two minutes if they are going to give a nod for the candidate or not. So, it is very important to strike a chord with the interviewer in the first 60-120 seconds. The interviewer/panel will give you a chance to do it by asking the most open ended question, ‘Tell me something about yourself’ and you should understand that why it is being asked. Your profile is already in front of the panel, so give them talking points about what is not mentioned in your CV or to your area of strength, your hobbies may be.

Don’t get intimidated if the panel tries to exert pressure on you during the interview. They are simply checking your mental strength and composure. Just maintaining a smile and being positive in your talks can do wonders for you. An interview is a conversation, so be polite and look interested all the time. Show the panel that you are not very judgmental, idealistic and a nervous fish outside your comfort zone. Show them that you are rational, positive and composed. I know a candidate who converted IIM-B by just accepting the offer of cookies by the panel for the simple reason that he waited 8 hours for his interview and when panel offered him some cookies, he accepted it because he was hungry (rational).

Do thorough research on the b-school’s history and the various activities which happen there throughout the year and talk about them during interview. It is better to formulate your GD-PIs in a way that there is no scope of contradiction in your arguments because most of the times, your GD and interview panel is going to be same and you can be questioned on your arguments in GD during the interview. Some b-schools ask candidate to give an essay/write-up before appearing for the GD-PIs. Follow basics such as using simple English, small sentences, small paragraphs, giving examples and maintaining a flow. Be sure of what you write, because again it can come back to haunt you in the PI.

Thus, GD-PIs are the tools to test how you are going to behave in the classroom initially and later in corporate as a professional. In an MBA, classroom discussions will imbibe more learning in you than mere walking you through the PPTs which is called ‘death by power-point’. An MBA is not more about how much you know, but more about how you articulate your thoughts in a lucid and presentable manner. Polish these aspects your personality and ah you en-route a journey towards an exciting career.

Contributed By : Sthita Sahu

Breaking the Stereotypes of Group Discussion

Stereotypes of Group DiscussionThe clock is running faster than usual, one person in the group is speaking while others are waiting for him to take a breath for they are all set to cut him short and throw up some or the other thing to make the coordinator a note of them. Seems like a Group Discussion is on. Amid of all, you are not even blabbering. Your head has so much been bombarded with ‘Rules of cracking group discussion’, which you either read on internet or in some book, that you are just sitting there and mulling over them one by one. The coordinator hits the buzzer and that’s it. You lost your chances for making it to the next round.

Let’s get out of some of the stereotypes that are falsely branded as the rubrics of cracking the group discussion and be practical about discussing something in a group.

  • Sit the way you like: We read at lot many places about proper sitting postures during Group Discussion. No matter how “proper” you are sitting in the Group Discussion but if you don’t hash out your views in front of others you won’t be qualified for the next round. The purpose behind group discussion is to assess your leadership skills, communication skills, your behavior with others and especially your listening skills. It has nothing to do with the angle of your spinal cord. Hence stop worrying about your sitting posture and gear up on exchanging quality points.
  • Be loud: Be louder in GDImagine your friend staying on the top floor of the building and you are asked to call him down. Would you be all assertive in calling him or be loud so that he could take a note of you. In the same manner, once in a group discussion make your presence felt to other. Be loud whenever you speak. But make sure you keep a foot on ‘Don’t be aggressive’ rule too. Be shrill but don’t get rude or mad with anyone.
  • Don’t speak first: The topic doesn’t ring a bell in your head but since you have been told to ‘Always start first’ you do the same and you miss the meaning of the topic. In such an odd situation let others start the discussion first, try to catch those sub-topics which you are aware of, from the discussion going on, and then hit the hammer. You would surely be able to give a new direction to the entire discussion.
  • Switch Sides: There is a thin line of difference between group discussion and debate and that is you cannot switch side in the latter. If you feel that the entire group has nodded on something then that is the right time for you to agree to disagree with them. Hop the side and discuss the issue from opposite angle. Not only you would be blowing life back to the discussion but you would also grab brownie points under the leadership column.
  • Flow in the opposite direction: Somewhat similar to above point and a bit contradicting too. Rather than switching side in between, it would be better if you chose a side, not taken by anyone else in the group, from the very beginning. No matter how much favorite that side was to you or how much knowledge you had about that side but if majority of people has taken it in the group, switch to another. For instance, the coordinator has hurled a topic ‘Blue Ocean Strategy or Red Ocean Strategy’. You are all prepared to talk about Red ocean strategy but when majority is speaking in the favor of it make sure you contradict them by putting on the table the cons of it or the pros of blue ocean strategy.
  • Don’t define the topic: Don’t define the topic in GDYou grasp at once every word of the topic written on the board and you also manage to get a chance to initiate the discussion. Don’t define the topic unless the topic is listed under the dictionary of rocket science. Defining an obvious topic harms in two ways. You define it and lose a chance to speak further because someone else takes it from there and secondly, you could not take a positive or negative stand on the topic because you were busy defining it. And hence the coordinator doesn’t know your point of view on the topic till you get a second chance to speak about it which by the way is not a walk in the park.
  • Cut others short: If you notice someone who is nowhere near to give up on speaking, interfere by raising a rhetorical question (Yes break this stereotype too of not asking questions in GD) and then put your point in the discussion. If you would not take this initiative someone else would. Then the whole process of ‘Let-him-finish-then-I-will-speak’ would start all over again. If you believe that cutting someone short in a GD might reduce your chances of making to next round then remember that someone else too cut you short while you were speaking to put his point.
  • Make the heads nod but keep yours stable: Sit the way you like in GDSometime it so happens that you hold a similar view as your group mate and you nod as he speaks. Not only you but others also do the same. The entire group might end up agreeing to what that one participant said. This makes you contribute zero from your side. Rather than practicing this keep a poker face while listening to that person. Don’t give him a clue about your stand on the topic. But contribute strong points in the discussion and make others to nod on your point.
  • Don’t rush to summarize the discussion: You hear the buzzer sound again and the desperation to summarize the topic takes a toll on you. You performed well in the entire discussion but in this hurriedness of summarizing if you goof up then chances are high that you spoil the entire impression on the coordinator. Let others complete the discussion and when the coordinator asks you to summarize then buckle up with your concluding lines.
  • Be diplomatic in the last 30 seconds: As mentioned before that there lies a distinction between group discussion and debate. Keeping this in mind, towards the end when you are asked by the coordinator to conclude the topic do not give aone sided answer on the topic. In fact, there are certain topics which never demands for any perfect answer. Give a mixed response while concluding the topic. End your part in such a way that everyone leaves with a thought in their mind.

Lastly, the take away from the above points is that there are no specific rules when it comes to Group Discussion but casual guidelines have been designed to make us follow the protocol when we are a part of such discussion. It is an on the spot activity where your presence of mind, flexibility on the topic, pressure tolerating ability and other traits & skills used in corporate world are judged.

Contributed by Hasan Ali Gumani (Class of 2014, IBS HYDERABAD)