Group discussions are one of the most common step used by different companies during the interview process. It serves as a good tool for the interviewers to test the skills like team work, listening, discussion ability, subject knowledge and communication.
Those who have experienced GDs during internship drive or the mock would be able to relate to the fact that once GD is flagged off, it can just go haphazardly. One may become desperate to raise his/her points just to make the presence of their voice felt. It is also advisable to not make the discussion a ground of arguments and become a suicide bomber for whole GD group. Hence, I am giving some insights on how to crack GD with optimum involvement. I have tested these during the recent placement session and it have worked for me and some of my friends.
I would request you to take inputs from these points and craft your own strategies.
- There are 4 types of topics given in GD – Current Affairs, Social/Factual, Abstract and Situation based. Try to find the category in which you can have an edge. Someone who follows news regularly would find Current Affairs at ease. One good in debating would like a factual or social topic. Book readers may have an edge in an abstract and a situation based topic.
- If the given topic is your strength then decide to start the GD and get ready after collecting your ideas. If not then try to jump in as a second or 3rd speaker.
- In the time given before the start of GD (typically 2-3 mins), define the topic, write 2-3 pros & cons and give a 3 point structure to the discussion. The structure is relevant typically for current affairs and social/factual topics
- If you are able to start then use a line or two to define the topic and spell out the structure.
- If you manage to go second or third then paraphrase the explanation of the topic, propose a structure if missed by the first speaker and give a few a few pros and cons.
- Frame just 3-4 points for a turn and try to finish those points
- People speaking afterwards should either try to build up on the points given by others or try to bring in a new dimension to the discussion.
- Be creative for abstract topics. Pitch all sides of arguments for a socially inclined topic and take a middle path. Bring out different views and excerpts from the speeches/articles for a topic of current affairs. And for situation based topics, try to have a few guidelines and follow them to carry forward the discussion
- Once you are done with your point, listen passionately to what others are speaking. Nod if you agree. Keep looking at others and understand their facial expression.
- If there are n people in a GD then you should be the n’th turn for raising your points. If you are speaking at n-1 or n-2 then you are dominating the GD which is actually a good sign. So in a group of 8 people, try to snatch the 6th-7th turn.
- Once you get your chance to speak, speak slowly and with authority. Focus more on ensuring that your points are understood by people rather than becoming self-conscious or self-analyzing your speaking skills or relevance of points.
- Don’t be overly self conscious by always thinking or rehearsing your points. Use this time to understand the points given by others. Use somebody’s point by rephrasing it and posting it to someone who have not engaged in the discussion so far.
- Bringing an international perspective or anecdote creates a good impression
- Among n people, start preparing your point once n-3’rd is done with his/her point.
- Jot down your pitching points in 4-5 words because you don’t want to risk a blank thought at your turn. It is a possibility and it has happened to me a number of times when I thought of my argument but was completely blank when my turn came.
- The interviewer tests you on several parameters, not just on your points. So just check that you are covering all parameters like starting/giving structure, listening, bringing the group back when digressing, giving a new dimension to the discussion, building on someone else’s point, agreeing with someone’s point, mild disagreement wit someone but countering it without offending the person. Once you have started then focus on points given by others. Once you have given a new perspective to the discussion then focus on supporting a few points given by others and giving shape to the discussion.
That’s it. Get in a group of 6-8 and try out these pointers. Write to me if they are useful or if you would like to suggest some improvisations. Always remember that the purpose of GD is elimination, not selection. So play it cool.