How to Prepare for Group Discussion

How to Prepare  for Group Discussion 

How to Prepare for Group Discussion
How to Prepare for Group Discussion 

Group Discussions 

Many corporate institutions and some educational institutions use the group discussion as a step in their selection process. It is believed that the selectors or evaluators are able to identify skills that they want in their potential employees through the process of group discussions. Usually, the group discussion stage comes towards the end of a selection process when the selectors have created a short list of suitable candidates from a large number of applicants. The selectors want to assess the qualities that they feel are desirable in the employees in their company or in their institutions. 

■ What is group discussion 

Typically, candidates are divided into groups of 8 - 12. Each group is given a topic to discuss in a fixed time period, usually 15 - 20 minutes. Evaluators will take notes and give marks to all the candidates. Sometimes this process is repeated over a number of rounds. 

■ Topics in group discussion 

What are the topics in group discussion:

There are three categories of topics set for group discussions:

The topic is usually one of contemporary interest. For Example, if the Olympic or World Cup Football is near then it is possible that the topic may be related o that. For example, 'How does your country perform in the Olympics?' Issues of interest in the political, economics or education sphere, such as - 'How does our country develop in economy?' or 'How can the illiteracy problem be solved?' or 'How does globalization help to improve the economy of a country?' or 'How is the sports necessary in education?' etc. Generally speaking, the topic will allow for many opinions in order to ensure that there is scope for meaningful discussion. 

Sometimes, you may be given an abstract thought such as 'Silence is gold's or 'pen is mightier than sword' or 'Knowledge is strength'. In such cases, there is not much scope for debate or opinions. Rather the discussion is likely to concentrate on the interpretations of the phrase and whether it has any truth to it.

Very rarely, participants are given ca case study to read and are then asked to discuss strategies to solve the problems indicated in the study.

■ What are the qualities needed for group discussion:

● How to get success in group discussion:

All of us know that the person with the best marks in class is not necessarily the person who is most likely to climb the corporate ladder to success. Employers are looking for a combination of skills that will help their company to perform better. These skills are usually intangible and difficult to assess. 

Group discussions are usually part of a selection process for managerial positions rather than technical positions. However, in today's world, many technical jobs will require managerial skills and so group discussions are used by a wide variety of companies in their search for good and effective employees. 

It is widely acknowledged that a good manager is one who can fulfil a specific target. However, this is only possible if the manager has the following qualities:

Leadership qualities
The ability to work with others
The ability to inspire others to work as a team
A good manager or leader is also a good communicator
Clear understanding of the situation
The ability to find solution of the problem

These are the qualities that employers or evaluators are looking for in your performance in a group discussions. 

■ How to prepare for group discussion:

As most topics for group discussion are contemporary issues, you should regularly read newspapers and magazines to build up a knowledge base. If you have no idea about what is happening around you in recent times, you will not be able to contribute to any discussion on the topic. It is not always necessary that you must produce accurate statistics; but a good awareness of political, social, cultural issues is usually seen as an indicator of the person's intelligence and reading habits. A knowledge base is seen as a basic requirement. 

■ How to perform in group discussion:

Important things to be remembered in group discussion

How to prepare for group discussion
How to be successful in group discussion

* You must contribute to the discussion:

Even the brightest person will fail to qualify in a group discussion if he or she does not speak. Some people are by nature shy and can not talk easily in front of strangers. This is a quality that you must change ig you are to do well in a group discussion. The first thing is to ensure that you speak at least once in group discussion. 

* You must ensure that what you are saying has an impact:

If you speak a lot, but you are merely repeating what others are saying, or you say something very obvious, then too it will have no positive impact on the group or on the evaluators. You will entirely be forgettable. Make sure that you say something which no one has said before. If possible, say something that is interesting and thoughtful. 

* Do not dominate the discussion:

The person who speaks the most and does not allow others to speak is not seen as a good team leader. Instead he or she is seen as domineering, bossy and unable to work with others. In fact, if you find yourself talking too much, it is a good strategy to invite a quiet person to speak. That shows that you are sensitive to others. 

* Keep your comments focused on the given topic:

Sometimes groups wander from the given topic. For example, in a discussion on the presidential form of government, the discussion may turn to whether the president was right to invade terrorist-camps. This means that you are no longer doing what your evaluators asked you to do. If this is happening in the group discussion, you should point it out and say something to return the flow of discussion to its original focus. 

* Interject as and when you can:

No one will make space for you to enter the discussion. Use phrases like, 'While I agree with some of what you said, I would like to point out ...' or 'I have another point to add to that...' or some other polite, but firm phrase to enter the discussion. 

* Never become too aggressive:

Do not under any circumstance lose your temper. Even if you feel insulted or under attack, you should never show any anger. Do not verbally attack another person on personal grounds. You may of course attack someone's argument, but never the person. 

* Be assertive:

You must however, make sure that you are heard and that your points are made. You should therefore speak clearly, prevent anyone from interrupting you and make point effectively. You will not get much time so you may may like to jot down your points before you begin to speak. If you are being interrupted, then you should turn to the person and say politely, 'Please let me finish and then I will gladly address your point' or something equally pleasant and firm.

* Always address the group:

Do not get drawn into a personal debate or discussion with just one person. Always speak to the whole group. 

* Speaking first:

This will depend on your personality. Some people speak well when they speak first and set out the framework for the discussion. If done well, it can have a great impact and others will often automatically accept the person as the leader. However, this strategy will only work well if you have good thoughts to present. 

* Always be polite to every one in the group:

Show that you are capable of working with all kinds of people. Treat every one with due respect. 

So, follow the steps mentioned above to present your best in the group discussion. 

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