Objective of a Group Discussion (GD)
While the written exam tests the quantitative, reasoning and verbal skills of an applicant, that’s not all that a future manager should excel in. In fact, that is just the start. A successful manager should not just be good with his quota of work, but s/he is also expected to contribute as part of a team. And, that’s what GDs aim to test.
GD's are conducted to test managerial attributes like interpersonal skills, leadership, analytical and rational thinking, knowledge and personality traits.
It is a way through which the B-School panel measures the calibre of the candidate on parameters like content and knowledge, rational thought process, communication skills, group behaviour and leadership skills. Look at GD's as steps up a ladder to prepare for MBA.
Types of Group Discussions
Not all GD's are the same. B-schools use several types to test applicants. While there are some GD's that test the knowledge of a candidate on a topical issue, others are designed to test the ‘lateral thinking’ of the candidate.
Another type of GD comes in the form of a short ‘case-study’ where applicants are asked to analyse a situation and frame responses. Yet another type of a GD is a ‘group exercise’.
GDs can be classified into three types: factual, abstract, and case study. While factual ones are based on contemporary but controversial topics, abstract topics involve lateral thinking and unconventional perspectives.
Topics can either be knowledge intensive or non-knowledge intensive. Knowledge-intensive topics are based on areas like the economy and its sectors like IT or telecom, society, politics, sports or media. Non-knowledge intensive topics can either be ‘concrete topics’ (like ‘greed is good’), while ‘abstract topics’ can be totally open-ended like ‘Deep Blue is not blue enough’.
How to Prepare for a Group Discussion
So, how should you prepare for the GD? Experts opine that you should work on developing your knowledge base, while at the same time focussing on improving your communication. Some specific lessons on managing yourself during the GD are important too. There are small tricks and tips that can improve your group discussion.
Tips & Tricks for a Successful Group Discussion
The first step in your quest to do well in a GD is to improve your knowledge quotient. Read, watch, listen! Read newspapers and magazines on current issues, especially year-end issues that capture highlights of the year gone by. Also, watch and listen to the news and current affair programmes on news channels. Candidates must keep abreast of contemporary issues with help of the media.
There are some group discussion topics of perennial interest.
For economics-related topics, read fundamental concepts like FDI, stock markets, liberalisation, employment scenario, capital convertibility, rupee vs dollar, inflation, export-import, socialists vs capitalists etc.
For sector-based topics, start by making a one-or-two page note on important sectors like IT, ITES, banking, insurance, retail, telecom, healthcare, agriculture etc. Find out about the developments in last year and prospects in the coming ones.
Express Yourself During a Group Discussion
Knowledge itself is not enough. The next step is to improve your ability to express yourself. You can practice speaking in a GD scenario by forming a discussion group that meets every day and take up a topic for discussion. GD or MBA discussions, as it is also known as, can be your sure shot at getting into a good B school. So, don't take it easily. Practice ease of expression because clarity, brevity and word choice are keenly observed by evaluators.
Source: HT Horizons
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