Tips on how to deal with the commonly asked questions while attending group discussion rounds
Group Discussion is primarily focused on understanding a candidate’s profile. It could be used to shortlist candidates for their higher studies, for example, a master’s degree in Management or could be used to eliminate someone in an organization during the hiring process.
GD is a way through which a lot can surface about candidates participating in it -- be it their communication skills, ability to understand the world around them, self-knowledge, transparent attitude, team-working ability, and people management skill. It’s an easy way to peek into someone’s mind.
There are many questions that arise when talking about group discussion and a few of them are answered here. Below there are 28 most commonly asked questions when attending a group discussion round. The answers might help you crack some of the difficult GD rounds.
To begin with, you can dive straight into the topic [if you know what to say] by quoting examples and facts. While citing examples, you can pick personal situations [aligned to the idea you are speaking about]. This way you can introduce yourself, and it also gives an impression that you know what you’re talking about. However, avoid sounding too personal and giving away too much about yourself in the beginning because that might make you look like drawing too much attention to yourself.
You have to dress as per the profession. It shows your interest and reflects on your behaviour.
Male candidates must wear a formal shirt paired with formal pants. A tie will go well with the set. You can additionally sport a blazer. This is not a must. If you go with a blazer or a three-piece suit, keep the weather in mind. Complete the experience with a formal laced shoe.
Female candidates can go for a formal blouse paired with a formal skirt or a pant. Accessorize minimally. Opt for complementing the outfit with formal shoes. You can opt for a more traditional option of saree or salwar kameez. Avoid glitters. Of these options, one is not necessarily better than the other. So, choose the one in which you feel most comfortable.
Other tips (applicable to both): Avoid flashy stuff. Be well groomed. If you have long hair, tie it properly. Press your clothes and polish your shoes. Loose and skewed ties don't do you any favour. Any kind of casual or informal attire may turn your interviewer down to proceed with the interview.
Depending upon the situation, it can be both. Most higher education institutions use a group discussion round for the selection of candidates, whereas, companies use group discussion as a short listing process where you may be eliminated or shortlisted to move on to the next round. Many companies have group discussion mentioned as one of their panel interview rounds.
Group Discussion is a session where a lot of people talk one-by-one and then all at the same time. An open-ended group discussion for troubleshooting issues may take one hour or more, whereas GD for the selection purpose has a limited time. A group discussion session should generally last 20-30mins.
An expert panel consisting of 3 or 4 members will be assessing candidates. The panel will be assessing the candidates on their technical knowledge and communication skills. As such, the panel members will be experts on the subject matter in hand. For example, if you are attending GD in a reputed high-school or university, chances are you’ll be judged by someone authoritative.
The group discussion is between you and the other participants. A panel plays no active role in the session. They are present as observers and judges. Thus, it is not right to address the panel members. You should address your points towards the other team members and discuss only with them. Addressing them does not have to be formal but make sure you make eye contact with all the members of the group. Be polite and assertive and quick and concise in your delivery.
Address the group members by name if you know them. Otherwise, stick to he/she combinations to indicate the person. Avoid numbers even when allocated as part of the session.
The facilitator is in charge of keeping track of time. The panel will ensure that they adhere to the time limit. But that does not mean that as participants, you can relax. You can keep track of time yourself. You can track how much time is spent on ideation and how much on arguing about it. You can use this for personal development purposes.
If you decide to maintain the time, don’t use overt gestures like looking at your watch or mobile frequently. This will curtail you from contributing effectively. Additionally, it will project an air of disinterest and impatience. Better not to worry about the time part of the discussion.
In general, a limited amount of time, say around 5 minutes, is allocated to participants to prepare. But, there may be instances where no preparation time is given. You should be on your toes for such an occurrence and land on your feet. You can do this by keeping yourself updated on the latest trends and technology related to your field. Additionally, brush up on your general knowledge and current affairs as these are some areas where the topics can be chosen from.
Yes and no. You should have a notepad or a piece of paper with you. You can write down just the keywords or use a mapping technique to keep track of the conversation. We do not advise you to take down complete notes. You are there to discuss, and not record the minutes. You can use the keywords/key phrases to summarize and bring back attention to the topic.
This also helps with identifying your plan and thoughts on the subject. But, in all fairness, the best approach is to listen and take notes mentally, and not waste precious time on writing down statements from other team members. If you are not sure, then note down the keywords. Practise to store conversations and related keywords mentally and reproduce them when required. Summarizing a group discussion session is usually voluntary, but it is good to be ready if you have to deliver the summary.
Maybe and maybe not. It all depends on how prepared you are to speak first. Is the topic something you are familiar with? Do you have enough facts and figures related to it that you can give a persuasive and compelling argument, to begin with? It’s a gamble on a good day. The result of this experiment can go either way. You either knock it out of the park or you get caught.
If you are sure and confident that you have what it takes to open the discussion, go ahead. Remember to engage the team with anecdotes along with facts and figures. One misstep creates a bad impression and your gamble will backfire on you. So be your own judge and be painfully honest with yourself. If you still feel this is a good idea, then go out with all guns blazing!
NO; that is one of the worst things you can do in a group discussion round. Apart from not getting a chance to ask, you may come across as ineffectual. Choose the right timing and enter the discussion without being rude to the person speaking before you. Interject with rejoinders like, “I agree but...”, “Let me say that...” etc., Don't use the cliche “excuse me”. This is rude and can be taken as sarcasm. Start with addressing the group collectively and jump straight into the subject.
Both are important for various reasons. New ideas fuel the discussion and you get the brownie points for it. Your idea might just be the solution to the issues if the kinks in it were worked out. So thinking of new ideas is important. It will showcase your problem-solving ability and innovation.
Remembering the points discussed is imperative as you need them to form supporting theories and rebuttals and to effectively contribute to the group discussion. You will project yourself as an active listener. The overall productive session for you can be achieved by striking a balance between new ideas and discussing points put forth by others.
No and yes. It is advised not to change your stance on a topic. Blindly taking a stance and then changing it will land you in trouble. If you are in doubt, it is better to stay quiet and wait for more clarity before committing to a stance. There is a chance that changing the stance may be constructed as your ineptitude. So if you are really convinced to change your position on the topic, point out that your point was valid within the context but that you wish to concur with a different and contradicting point of view as a whole.
This is a difficult yet common scenario across group discussion sessions. The best approach is by generating new ideas and or trying to push the conversation in different directions. Show off your creativity as you try to bring the discussion out of a rut. You may indulge in some light-hearted humour. If there is nothing else to add, go for the summary.
Both are important facets of a group discussion. But if you had to choose one, choose wisely, and then go with content, every time. There is no use of all the trimmings without any substance. Speaking for the sake of it is useless and a waste of time and energy. Presentation is important but not at the cost of content. Thus, you can conclude that on the scale of relevancy, content is a more important player.
Display of emotion to an idea presented by your team member. The quality of the idea and speech should be given priority over the quantity of time spent talking. The ego of the person will project a negative impression of your character.
These are some factors that influence the style of communication in a negative way and are some common mistakes that you should avoid committing.
Orientation is the initial phase. Here, the outline is prepared and the agenda is introduced. The second phase is Conflict, where the participants fight for one-upmanship, and it is here where the dominants emerge. In the lull after the storm, the team learns to work together in the third stage known as Collaboration. The fourth stage is Performance where the team moves towards a consensus, and Conclusion is the final phase where results are shared and summarized.
Read more and improve general knowledge. Keep yourself updated on current affairs.
Take notes on general topics and go through them before a session.
Practise more till you feel comfortable. You can practice speaking in front of a mirror and then graduate to discussing with friends.
Read more: How to prepare a group discussion
Don’t worry about your English skills. You just have to practise speaking clearly. To communicate better, practise hard. Eliminate the fillers from your speech. Don’t hem and haw. Avoid stammering. This is the easiest short term solution to not bungle group discussion.
You have to adopt a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, you should concur with the speaker and present your idea and any points that you wish to make supporting the idea. On the other hand, rack your brains to find more innovative ideas on the go.
You can try talking as early as possible in the group discussion to avoid someone else pitching in with your comments and ideas.
NO. Slangs and colloquial languages are absolutely not used in group discussions. Slangs may be alright when you use them in informal situations, but they don’t give you any credit here. When in group discussion, stick to polite usages and formal or semi-formal styles. Avoid chat languages as well.
Yes, if required, you can use technical jargons. Avoid chat language; they are not jargons. Ensure that you don’t use abbreviations of jargons either. To make sure everyone is on the same page, explain the jargon or the technical abbreviation.
Yes. Using short stories and anecdotes with some facts thrown in is a good way to attract attention to yourself. Using humour is a bit more complicated. Use it sparingly and only when required. Overuse of humour in discussion is a waste of time and resources and can be marked against you.
There should be no aggression towards any group members. Aggression is not tolerated in a group discussion session. You can try to be assertive without being aggressive.
No. It is not mandatory in GD to allocate a certain amount of time to each person. A GD session is competitive enough that participants must find their own ways to utilise the time allocated to them.
Yet another common occurrence in group discussions is when the noise level goes up to a certain point, with an argument between the groups reaching its zenith. This is a good time wherein you can stand out as a leader by bringing order or getting the others to listen to you. The other way is to throw your weight behind the most powerful person in the room and ride on their success. Once they manage to hold attention, enter the conversation by agreeing to his/her point.
A certain level of fluency in English is definitely expected from a candidate. But the native level of proficiency is not always required or expected. The panel will expect you to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and efficiently. Don’t stammer or drag a word. A huge and fancy vocabulary in English is not a must. On the other hand, you will also be expected to understand what others are communicating to you, and then be able to reply to that effect.
Here you go with the answers to the most common group discussion questions. There could be more topics that we have not covered here. If you need more interview tips and tricks, our advisors can help you with that. We help our students with up-skilling courses and also teach them the do’s and don’ts of attending a job interview. Reach out to us and you’ll get to know more.
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