From the experts
MBAUniverse.com Exclusive: An introduction to GD and expert tips for preparation
To help the MBA aspirants to excel in the GD round, MBAUniverse.com brings to you the What, Why and How of the personal assessment round, the stage for which is already set with the exam results now rolling out one by one.
Group discussion is a way by which the B-school panel measures quality of candidate on parameters like Content & Knowledge, Rational thought process, Communication skills, Group Behavior and Leadership Skills.
This article introduces you to the concept of Group Discussions for MBA admissions, talks about the different types of GDs, provides you important tips on how to prepare well, and shares with you some of the DOs and DON'Ts for this round.
The Purpose of GD
While the written exam tests the quantitative, reasoning and verbal skills of an applicant, that is not all that a future manager is expected to excel in. In fact, that is just the start! A successful manager should not just be good with his quota of work, but he/ she is expected to contribute as part of a team. Ability to work, and contribute in teams is an absolute must to succeed in corporate sector. And that’s what Group Discussions aim to test.
“The GD/PI stage is arguably the most crucial stage. It is a bit like the journey from qualifying in the heats to the gold medal in a sports event. GDs are conducted to test managerial attributes like Interpersonal Skills, Leadership, Analytical and rational thinking, Knowledge and personality traits,” says Jaya Desai of IMS Learning Resources.
A member of academic research team at T.I.M.E. states, “Group discussion is a way by which the B-school panel measures quality of candidate on parameters like Content & Knowledge, Rational thought process, Communication skills, Group Behavior and Leadership Skills.”
According to a top MBA expert at Career Launcher, “GD checks a quality of paramount importance and that is ‘How do you work in a team?’. During your work life, you will be working as a team member rather than an individual. To do well your interpersonal skills, your ability to put across your ideas and also understanding the other person’s point of view is important. That’s what GD focuses on.”
GD is also used as an elimination round by B-schools. Opines a MBA expert of PT Education, “GDs are used by institutes where there is a high level of competition.”
Types of GD
Not all GDs are equal. B-schools use several types of GDs to test the applicants. While there are some GDs that test the knowledge of a candidate on a topical issue, others are designed to test the ‘ lateral thinking’ of candidate.
Another type of GD comes in form of a short ‘case-study’ where applicants are asked to analyze a situation and frame responses. Yet another type of a GD is a ‘group exercise’.
IMS Learnings’ Desai classifies the GDs into three types. Says Desai, “There are three common types of GDs: Factual, Abstract, and Case Study. While the factual ones are based on contemporary but controversial topics, the abstract topics involve lateral thinking and unconventional perspectives.”
T.I.M.E. says that topics can be either knowledge intensive or non-knowledge intensive. Knowledge intensive topics are based on areas like 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’), and the ‘abstract topics’ can be totally open ended like ‘Deep Blue is not blue enough’.
So then how should you prepare for the GDs? Experts opine that you should work on developing your knowledge base, while at the same time, focus on improving your communication. Some specific lessons on managing yourself during the GD are important too.
Up your KQ
The first step in your quest to do well in a GD is to improve your knowledge quotient. Read, Watch, Listen! Read the newspapers and magazines on current issues, specially the year-end issues that capture the 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 media.
There are some Group Discussion topics of perennial interest for GDs. For economic related topics, read fundamental concepts like FDI, Stock Markets, Libralization, Employment scenario, Capital convertability, Rupee vs Dollar, Inflation, Export-import, Socialist Vs Capitalists etc.
For sector-based topics start by making a 1-2 page note on important sectors like IT, ITES, Banking, Insurance, Retail, Telecom, Healthcare, Agriculture etc. Try to know what are the developments in last year and prospects of each sector.
But knowledge itself is not enough. Next step is to improve your ability to express yourself. You can practice speaking in a GD scenario by forming a discussion group which meets every day and takes up a topic for discussion. Practice ease of expression since clarity, brevity and word choice are keenly observed by the evaluators.
GD Tips – Group Discussion Dos & Don’ts
Sailing through Group Discussions successfully is an art too.
-- Be Natural
The best mantra is 'to be your natural self'. Do not manufacture artificial responses.
-- Must Speak
A key principle of participating in a GD is that you must speak. For any GD, take a piece of paper and a pen with you and use them unless specifically asked by the evaluators not do so. Before you start speaking, think through the major issues in the topic in the first two minutes. Start speaking only when you have understood and analysed the topic.
-- Make free-flowing discussion
Avoid speaking in turn as it leads to an unnatural discussion. A GD involves a free-flowing exchange of ideas among participants. Even though there will definitely be chaos in most competitive GDs, as all participants will be keen to be heard, any suggestion of order, such as speaking, in turn, is unacceptable.