Group Discussion

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  • Published : February 22, 2013
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A Group Discussion at a B-School can be defined as a formal discussion involving 10 to 12 participants in a group. They are given a topic. After some time, during which they collect their thoughts, the group is asked to discuss the topic for 20 to 25 minutes. B-Schools use the Group Discussion process to assess a candidate's personality traits. 

Here are some of the most important personality traits that a candidate should possess to do well at a Group Discussion: 

1. Team Player
B-Schools lay great emphasis on this parameter because it is essential for managers to be team players. The reason: Managers always work in teams.
At the beginning of his career, a manager works as a team member. And, later, as a team leader. Management aspirants who lack team skills cannot be good managers.

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2. Reasoning Ability
Reasoning ability plays an important role while expressing your opinions or ideas at a Group Discussion. For example, an opinion like "Reduction in IIMs' fees will affect quality" can be better stated by demonstrating your reasoning ability and completing the missing links between fees and quality as: Reduction in IIMs' fees will result in less funds being invested on study material, student exchange programmes, research, student development activities, etc. Moreover, it costs money to attract good faculty, create good infrastructure and upgrade technology. With reduction in fees, less money will be available to perform these ,activities which will lead to deterioration in the quality of IIMs. Click to Discuss/ask queries about Group Discussion(GD)

3. Leadership
There are three types of situations that can arise in a Group Discussion:

A Group Discussion where participants are unable to establish a proper rapport and do not speak much.  A Group Discussion where participants get emotionally charged and the Group Discussion gets chaotic.  A Group Discussion where participants discuss the topic assertively by touching on all its nuances and try to reach the objective. Here, a leader would be someone who facilitates the third situation at a Group Discussion. A leader would have the following qualities:

S/he shows direction to the group whenever group moves away from the topic.  S/he coordinates the effort of the different team members in the Group Discussion.  S/he contributes to the Group Discussion at regular intervals with valuable insights.  S/he also inspires and motivates team members to express their views. Caution: Being a mere coordinator in a Group Discussion does not help, because it is a secondary role. Contribute to the Group Discussion with your ideas and opinions, but also try and steer the conversation towards a goal. Click to Discuss/ask queries about Group Discussion(GD)

4. Flexibility
You must be open to other ideas as well as to the evaluation of your ideas: That is what flexibility is all about. But first, remember: Never ever start your Group Discussion with a stand or a conclusion.  Say the topic of a Group Discussion is, 'Should India go to war with Pakistan?' Some participants tend to get emotionally attached to the topic and take a stand either in favour or against the topic, ie 'Yes, India should', or, 'No, India should not'. By taking a stand, you have already given your decision without discussing the topic at hand or listening to the views of your team members. Also, if you encounter an opposition with a very strong point at the 11th hour, you end up in a typical catch-22 situation:

If you change your stand, you are seen as a fickle-minded or a whimsical person.  If you do not change your stand, you are seen as an inflexible, stubborn and obstinate person.  Click to Discuss/ask queries about Group Discussion(GD)

5. Assertiveness
You must put forth your point to the group in a very emphatic, positive and confident manner. Participants often confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is all about forcing...
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