What is a Group Discussion?

Group discussions are increasingly used for selection process – whether for the B-school admission or for the placements. Since there are many applicants for the same seat, GDs becomes a very useful tool for further screening a few good needles from the hay stack. Most of the applicants have the technical skills to proceed with a good career in an industry but GD helps in choosing the more socially suitable candidates from this lot.

What is a Group Discussion?

Group discussion is a process where applicants sit together (typically 8 to 12) and discuss a given topic with an objective to analyse an issue or find a solution to a given case problem. The expectation from a group is to civically discuss the topic at hand and to arrive at a consensus or a solution. Furthermore, all this is to be done in a limited amount of time.

Purpose of a GD

Group Discussions help access an individual’s behaviour while in a group and his capabilities as a team player. Apart from the group skills, the communication skills, leadership skills and the creative approach are also tested.

Skills Accessed in a Group Discussion

Coming specific to the Group Discussions that happen as a part of the processes of various B-Schools, there are a set of parameters that are checked in a candidate. They are-

  1. Ability to articulate complex ideas in a simple form: One should have the ability to break down complex ideas and present the same in a very cogent way. Your group members should understand what you speak and what you mean to say
  2. Clarity of thought: One should be very clear and distinct in what one speaking, Do not sound confused. If you are not clear with the topic do not initiate the discussion. Understand the idea and then make an entry with a relevant Point
  3. Group Behavior: Remember that it is a Group discussion and not a debate. You are not there to convince anyone forcefully. You should render constructive suggestions thereby contributing meaningfully. One’s ability to handle a group and work as a group member is checked here
  4. Leadership: You can guide the flow of the GD in a right way to reach to a consensus. Helping others in bringing new ideas to the table, giving an appropriate structure to the GD in the beginning of the discussion, not allowing others to divert the discussion etc. are leadership skills.
  5. Communication: Effective communication is the key: One’s command over the language is checked. Many candidates feel that they should use Jargons and high frequency esoteric words while presenting their views in GD. This is totally unwarranted for; instead one can use simple but succinct language. It’s more about making an impact and not about impressing the group (or the judges). Also it’s not all about speaking. Listening is equally important. One needs to be a patient listener. Listening to a good view paint will encourage more good ideas thereby making the discussion healthier.
  6. Knowledge of the topic: Awareness regarding the latest issues on business and socio-political environment is crucial for GD. Proper understanding of all the debatable issues is must. Hence a candidate should go through different articles on the same topic in different magazines and periodicals. Diverse viewpoints will help you understand the bigger picture and facilitate you to take an independent stand on the issue.

Conclusion of a group discussion:

The conclusion is the last part of the discussion, but definitely not the least. The last two or three minutes of the discussion, the group is asked to conclude the GD. The check point that the moderator is looking for is: Has the group reached a consensus on the issue or a solution of a given problem? Since the purpose of the whole exercise was a discussion to reach a consensus or a solution, the last part of the discussion critical. Take this time to provide the solution or draw the conclusion out. It is generally difficult to evolve a consensus in such a short duration of time, considering most of the participants will come with strong opinions. In that case, summarize the discussion. Outline all the main points discussed in the process

Please Remember: Conclusion to be presented is of the group and not of individual. Please don’t try to put a new point or ideas of your own

Also Read: GD Tips: Do’s and Don’ts in a group discussion