Here’s a list of the most common mistakes made at group discussions:
Rashmi was offended when one of the male participants in a group discussion made a statement on women generally being submissive while explaining his point of view. When Rashmi finally got an opportunity to speak, instead of focussing on the topic, she vented her anger by accusing the other candidate for being a male chauvinist and went on to defend women in general.
What Rashmi essentially did was to
• Deviate from the subject
• Treat the discussion as a forum to air her own views.
• Lose objectivity and make personal attacks.
Her behaviour would have been perceived as immature and demotivating to the rest of the team.
Quality Vs Quantity
Gautam believed that the more he talked, the more likely he was to get through the GD. So, he interrupted other people at every opportunity. He did this so often that the other candidates got together to prevent him from participating in the rest of the discussion.
• Assessment is not only on your communication skills but also on your ability to be a team player.
• Evaluation is based on quality, and not on quantity. Your contribution must be relevant.
• The mantra is “Contributing meaningfully to the team’s success.” Domination is frowned upon.
Egotism Showing off
Krishna was happy to have got a group discussion topic he had prepared for. So, he took pains to project his vast knowledge of the topic. Every other sentence of his contained statistical data – “20% of companies; 24.27% of parliamentarians felt that; I recently read in a Jupiter Report that…” and so on so forth. Soon, the rest of the team either laughed at him or ignored his attempts to enlighten them as they perceived that he was cooking up the data.
• Exercise restraint in anything. You will end up being frowned upon if you attempt showing-off your knowledge.
• Facts and figures need not validate all your statements.
• Its your analysis and interpretation that are equally important – not just facts and figures.
• You might be appreciated for your in-depth knowledge. But you will fail miserably in your people skills.
Such a behavior indicates how self-centered you are and highlights your inability to work in an atmosphere where different opinions are expressed.
Get noticed – But for the right reasons
Srikumar knew that everyone would compete to initiate the discussion. So as soon as the topic – “Discuss the negative effects of India joining the WTO” – was read out, he began talking. In his anxiety to be the first to start speaking, he did not hear the word “negative” in the topic. He began discussing the ways in which the country had benefited by joining WTO, only to be stopped by the evaluator, who then corrected his mistake.
• False starts are extremely expensive. They cost you your admission. It is very important to listen and understand the topic before you air your opinions.
• Spending a little time analyzing the topic may provide you with insights which others may not have thought about. Use a pen and paper to jot down your ideas.
• Listen! It gives you the time to conceptualize and present the information in a better manner.
Some mistakes are irreparable. Starting off the group discussion with a mistake is one such mistake, unless you have a great sense of humor.
Managing one’s insecurities
Sumati was very nervous. She thought that some of the other candidates were exceptionally good. Thanks to her insecurity, she contributed little to the discussion. Even when she was asked to comment on a particular point, she preferred to remain silent.
• Your personality is also being evaluated. Your verbal and non verbal cues are being read.
• Remember, you are the participant in the GD; not the evaluator. So, rather than evaluating others and your performance, participate in the discussion.
• Your confidence level is being evaluated. Decent communication skills with good confidence is a must to crack the GDs.
Focus on your strengths and do not spend too much time thinking about how others are superior or inferior to you. It is easy to pick up these cues from your body language.
Knowledge is strength. A candidate with good reading habits has more chances of success. In other words, sound knowledge on different topics like politics, finance, economy, science and technology is helpful.
Power to convince effectively is another quality that makes you stand out among others.
Clarity in speech and expression is yet another essential quality.
If you are not sure about the topic of discussion, it is better not to initiate. Lack of knowledge or wrong approach creates a bad impression. Instead, you might adopt the wait and watch attitude. Listen attentively to others, may be you would be able to come up with a point or two later.
A GD is a formal occasion where slang is to avoided.
A GD is not a debating stage. Participants should confine themselves to expressing their viewpoints. In the second part of the discussion candidates can exercise their choice in agreeing, disagreeing or remaining neutral.
Language use should be simple, direct and straight forward.
Don’t interrupt a speaker when the session is on. Try to score by increasing your size, not by cutting others short.
Maintain rapport with fellow participants. Eye contact plays a major role. Non-verbal gestures, such as listening intently or nodding while appreciating someone’s viewpoint speak of you positively.
Communicate with each and every candidate present. While speaking don’t keep looking at a single member. Address the entire group in such a way that everyone feels you are speaking to him or her.
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