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Group Discussion Preparation :

Group Discussion is akin to life: a battle for survival where your wit, knowledge and charm come to your rescue. Here the one who is well informed, articulate, listens well, understands the issues and responds appropriately is the fittest. So, be battle ready. Always keep in mind that how you fare here depends on how others (people you are competing against) respond to the challenge and the best way to win it is to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Below are some useful tips (the arms & the ammunitions) to let you stay ahead and stake claim to the throne (succeed in group discussion).

In a group discussion, you are asked/required to furnish your opinion on a topic selected by an external agency (in case of discussions conducted for MBA admissions, the college authorities) and you are expected to come to a conclusion after building consensus among your team members. Two things are important here.

  • Your knowledge base that will allow you to articulate your opinion cogently on the selected topic.
    To cover it, you need to inculcate the diligent habit of reading on a variety of topics: science, social sciences, art, culture, metaphysics, medicine etc. The best way to do this is to read a good newspaper every day. The Hindu, The Economic Times, The NY Times will serve your purpose better though reading any newspaper is preferable to not reading at all. If you are fond of books, you may try fiction and non-fiction books on different subjects as well.
  • Your ability to work in a group
    People (College authorities) are looking for leaders and managers who can work in a diverse setting and get the job done. Many times, at a work place, situations arises where there are differing and sometimes conflicting opinions among the stakeholders. In order to resolve the impasse, it is important that a leader knows how to accommodate different views and reach to a position where the interests of organization are aligned with the interest of the stakeholders i.e. the group opinion is taken into account (respected) without jeopardizing the interest of the organization. To display a glimpse of this coveted trait (that you definitely possess) to the judges, you will have to be assertive in the discussion. There is thin line of difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggressiveness will not fetch you any marks but assertiveness surely will.

You should voice your opinion dispassionately & objectively without offending others.

  • Don’t speak too aggressively.
  • Be yourself. Stress situations bring out what our true colors are. So, don’t fake.
  • Don’t get offended or offend others.
  • Don’t obstruct others unnecessarily.
  • Allow and encourage others to speak.
  • Speak in the language you are comfortable with though it is always advisable to have good command over English since English is the most preferred language of business communication in the world at present.

Above all, your confidence should be visible in your approach not your arrogance/timidity. The panelists will definitely notice you.

2. Bring something new to the table

It does not matter much whether you speak first or last as long as you bring something new to the table. Speak well (The most important thing) but not without fully understanding the topic. Get your doubts clarified from the judges/the panelists before the start of the discussion. It is advisable to jot down your ideas on a piece of paper. This will help you in organizing your thoughts better during speaking. Listen to other members’ points attentively (if you are not speaking first) and prepare supportive/reinforcing/counter arguments. Group discussion is as much about listening attentively as much as it is about speaking eloquently. Remember that some out of box ideas, some new perspectives, anything that has not been thought before, can quickly draw the attention of your team members as well as the judges towards you and turn the tide in your favor. This takes us again to point no. 1 (a) which is sine qua non.

3.) Nobody is perfect, but you can tend to be perfect through practice.

Arrange group discussions among your friends/peers. Participate in as many mock discussions as possible. Watch news debates on a regular basis. You may also take the help of coaching institutes (both online & offline). You’ll definitely gain confidence and conquer the battle you have between fighting hard.

Personal Interview :

If group discussion is a battle, personal interview is „one to one combat.‟ It is your personal chance to make an impression on the minds of your potential college authorities/employer. Make it count.

To succeed in personal interview, you must have thorough knowledge of yourself. Do SWOT analysis. It means identify the below factors in you.

  • S- Your Strengths
  • W- Your Weaknesses (It‟s all right to have weaknesses. However, you must channelize your weaknesses in such a way that they appear to be aiding to your strengths)
  • O- The Opportunities you perceive for yourself.
  • T- The Threats that may hinder your success

Prepare your bio data/CV carefully. Don‟t put into your CV what you cannot explain to the interviewer(s). The interviewer(s) do not personally know you. They have only an idea about you from what you have fed in your application form and your CV. Don‟t let them have the impression that what you preach and what you practice are different from each other.

Be politely confident during the interview. Don‟t be stressed or nervous if you don‟t know the answer. The interviewers do not expect you to know all the answers but they definitely want to see how you handle the situations whose outcomes you do not know. Make eye contacts while listening to questions or answering them. It shows you are attentive. Prepare your hobbies well. The interviewers would like to know the other side of you. Now-a-days, a candidate with an all round personality (one who is as much at ease with music as much he is with balance sheets) is preferred over one-dimensional candidates. Wear clean and formal dress for the interview. Choose sober colors. Wear formal shoes only. Keep jewelry to the minimum (for girls).

Arrange and attend as many mock interviews as possible to get familiarized with the format. You may take professional help also (coaching institutes, online materials etc) to augment your preparation. Follow the above tips and you will come out with flying colors.

However, the most important thing is not to lose heart if you do not excel in the interview. The real life experience of attending an interview definitely counts. As they say, “Failure is the pillar of success.” Even if you fail now, you will have great chance to succeed in your future interviews.