A group discussion (GD) is a forum that calls for you to discuss and put forth your opinions on a topic in a logical, coherent, and mature manner. The person who conducts the GD and assesses the performance of the candidates is called a moderator. GD are an integral part of the selection process of most top B-schools. While the weightage is given to this component it could differ from one B-school to another. It is normally in the range of 10-15 percent at the IIMs and other top B-schools. Therefore, it is imperative that when it comes to preparing for a GD, you leave no stone unturned.
The number of students who participate in a GD vary from eight to 10-15 at the IIMs to about 15-20 at other top B-schools. Similarly, the time given to a group to discuss a given topic / case varies from 15 to 45 minutes. Irrespective of the number of participants and the time given, you should make sure that you perform to your full potential and to the expectation of the moderator.
In order to prepare thoroughly for GD, it is important for you to understand what a GD is all about, and what the various parameters are in which you are likely to be judged.
The three important types of group discussions are (a) Topic-Based, (B) Case â€“Based, and (c) Article Based.
In discussion that are topic-based, you will be asked to discuss a knowledge based topic that may pertain to society / social trends including education, politics, economies, legal system, IT, sport or current events. Alternatively, you could be asked to discuss on (a) General topics (b) Abstract topics and (c) an article from a newspaper clipping.
The GD at some institutes such as IIM Ahmedabad, IIM â€“ Bangalore, IIM-Calcutta and IIM-Indore, have case studies instead of regular topics. Institutes such as SCMHRD and IRMA have been asking students to enact role-plays and analyze situations.
The moderator in a GD sets the Ball rolling by giving the group a topic to discuss. Sometimes, the moderators may ask the group members to discuss among themselves and came up with a topic or may ask the group choose any one of two or three topics for discussion. Often students are awarded marks on the way they select the topic and the reasons they give for selecting the topic.
In a GD students are judged on the basis of:
Content refers to the quality of what you say. In a GD unless you know some thing about the topic, you will not be able to make a positive contribution and give direction to the efforts of the groups. The content that you use is the single most important factor that determines success in a GD.
Communication: Here, you are judged on how you say what you want to say: Communication does not refer to the use of flowery language. Rather, it means conveying your ideas in such a manner so as to ensure that the person whom you are addressing clearly understand what you are telling them.
Important components of communication include:
Listening: You are also expected to be a good listener failing which you will find it difficult to add to the points made in the GD. Also, you my have to summarize the discussion and need to be a good listener to do so.
Language: Reiterating that the use of flowery language is not required, it is however, important to note marks are awarded for the confidence and ease with which you use the English language. What also needs to be borne in mind is that unless what you say with regard to the topic makes sense, no amount of good English will help you.
Body language: Body language plays an important part in non-verbal communication. While you need to keep in mind, do not impede your natural body movements. Relax and be your self.
Group Behavior: The moderator expects you to make points logically and as a mature adult. Do not be carried away. By passion or do not be stubborn while to make a point in the discussion.
Leadership Skills: You are not expected to physically lead a group by actions such as thumping the desk or shouting. Such actions should be avoided, Leadership, in the context of a GD, means giving direction when the group is running out of points to speak on or when it is straying from the given topic.