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Group discussions are commonly used tool by business houses to check a candidate’s communication skills, inter-personal behavior and analytical skills and team behavior. It usually comprises of a group of seven to eight persons , who discuss on a topic that has been given by the assessor.

There are many attributes that a group discussion brings to the fore through a fifteen minute interaction. It gives the examiner a good overall view of the candidate, his interpersonal skills and body language. A candidate’s communication skills are put to test in a GD. It emphasizes on both the aspects of speaking and listening. People also communicate through their postures, facial expressions and hand movements. For e.g. a candidate who looks somewhere else while someone is speaking to him/her gives the impression of not being part of the group.

The most important points to realize in a group discussion are the words ‘GROUP’ and ‘DISCUSSION’. The most important part of a group discussion that a panel looks for is team behavior. How does a candidate behave in team? How eagerly does he take in others ideas? How well is he able to listen and at the same add value to the discussion by putting forward his views? Does he analyze the topic or simply talks? What we need to understand is a group discussion is very similar to an interaction between friends albeit in a formal way on a serious issue.

Take another example; among friends, just as we are never passive, always intent, a similar approach has to be followed in a group discussion. The only thing we need to realize is we need not be over-expressive. It is not a debate. It is listening to everyone and allowing everyone to speak . It is important to realize that as the number of people participating in discussion increases, the number of ideas coming up increases which enhances the quality of the discussion. A similar much used tool in CORPORATE BOARDROOMS is brainstorming wherein everyone speaks, the pros and cons of every solution analyzed and finally we see one idea coming up that leads to a win-win situation.

Time –management is of key importance in a Group Discussion. The evaluator assigns a pre-decided time. All of us can decide, how much time can everyone have, for eg. In a 15 minute GD with 10 persons, each one of the candidates shall have 90 seconds. In case one has spoken for two minutes across different intervals that means he has done his job, now he has to allow others to speak and listen to what others have to say.

A GD is also a test of our analytical skills. Data presented carefully and analytically scores more for us than plain talking. It also helps the evaluators understand how the candidate informed is of the world around him. Remember, most often the GD topics are looking for general awareness on common topics.

Topic­based group discussions :

In topic based group discussions, the group members are given a topic to discuss. A topic is typically in the form of a statement. Eg. The threat of global warming is real. Sometimes, the statement may not be complete. For example, the topic can be "The world leaders need to arrive at a consensus on…….). By the end of the discussion, the group should aim to arrive at a common point.
Case­based group discussion :

In case studies, a short description of a situation (called a "case") is given to all the participants. The case will typically be a problem situation that requires a solution. The participants have to study the case, analyze the problem and then discuss various situations to the problem.
Article based group discussions:

Article based GD covers wide range of areas, like current affairs, politics, economics, and technology. The participants are given 10 minutes to read the article and are then asked to hold a regular group discussion of around 10­15 minutes on the article. They may also be asked to pen down their thoughts and ideas in a sheet before proceeding with the discussion.

The topic that are given in group discussion are of two types:

Knowledge based topics :

Knowledge based topics require some topical knowledge. An example is "Should the collegium system of selection of Judges be done away with" Here unless you know something about the selection process , what is the take of the Supreme Court and what is the stand of the Government. Why was it done away with and why the Government wants it back, you will not be able to speak effectively. Knowledge- based topics mostly cover current economic issues as well as current non­economic issues.

Group discussion based on Social Issues:

When you are discussing social topics, you should be clear about both the 'generic' nature of the topics and the specific 'manifestations of the social issue. Be clear in not hurting anyone’s sentiments.

1. "The Reservation system should be done away with".
2. "Article of the Indian constitution is archaic".

Political topics:

Topics with politics as the basic content frequently feature in group discussions.

1. Smaller states are easier to manage. Division of states should be allowed.
2. Democracy is not good for India.

Sports/Films related topics:

Topics concerning films or sports are also common in number of GDs. Recently included tournaments like the world cup or the Olympics games can be the subject matter for a number of GD topics.

1. Should India host the Olymics?.
2. 100 years of Indian Cinema.

Argumentative Topics:

Argumentative topics are those about which there can be clear-cut views among the participants of a group discussion.

1. Love marriages are better than arranged marriages.
2. Should women take their husband’s surname after marriage?.

Abstract topics :

Abstract topics are those about which the interpretation itself can vary from person to person. Here you don't need any formal knowledge to discuss such topics and your worldly knowledge is sufficient.

1. All that glitters is not Gold.
2. The Grass is greener on the other side.
Do’s and Don’ts in a Group Discussion

As you have to participate in a Group Discussion, several questions spring across your mind. You want to know what actions and gestures can get you positive points and what can cost you the selection. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts of participating in the GD.

Do’s of participating in a GD:

Listen to the subject carefully.
Put down your thoughts on a paper.
Initiate the discussion if you know the subject well.
Listen to others if you don’t know the subject.
Support you point with some facts and figures.
Make short contribution of 25-30 seconds 3-4 times.
Give others a chance to speak.
Speak politely and pleasantly. Respect contribution from other members.
Disagree politely and agree with what is right.
Summarize the discussion if the group has not reached a conclusion.
Don’ts of participating in a Group Discussion

Initiate the discussion if you do not have sufficient knowledge about the given topic.
Over speak, intervene and snatch other’s chance to speak.
Argue and shout during the GD.
Look at the evaluators or a particular group member.
Talk irrelevant things and distract the discussion.
Pose negative body gestures like touching the nose, leaning back on the chair, knocking the table with a pen etc.
Mention erratic statistics.
Display low self confidence with shaky voice and trembling hands.
Try to dominate the discussion.
Put others in an embarrassing situation by asking them to speak if they don’t want.
Self examples in form of 'I' or my family.
Talking negatively of well known people, without the facts being sufficiently established.
The relaxed four-figure sitting position indicates a position of superiority.
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