Common Interview Questions:
Review these typical interview questions and think about how you would answer them. Read the questions listed; you will also find some strategy suggestions with it.
(Excerpted from the book The Accelerated Job Search by Wayne D. Ford, Ph.D, published by The Management Advantage, Inc.)
* 1. Tell me about yourself: The most often asked question in interviews. You need to have a short statement prepared in your mind. Be careful that it does not sound rehearsed. Limit it to work-related items unless instructed otherwise. Talk about things you have done and jobs you have held that relate to the position you are interviewing for. Start with the item farthest back and work up to the present.
* 2. Why did you leave your last job? Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organization. If you do, you will be the one looking bad. Keep smiling and talk about leaving for a positive reason such as an opportunity, a chance to do something special or other forward-looking reasons.
* 3. What experience do you have in this field? Speak about specifics that relate to the position you are applying for. If you do not have specific experience, get as close as you can.
* 4. Do you consider yourself successful? You should always answer yes and briefly explain why. A good explanation is that you have set goals, and you have met some and are on track to achieve the others.
* 5. What do co-workers say about you? Be prepared with a quote or two from co-workers. Either a specific statement or a paraphrase will work. Jill Clark, a co-worker at Smith Company, always said I was the hardest workers she had ever known. It is as powerful as Jill having said it at the interview herself.
* 6. What do you know about this organization? This question is one reason to do some research on the organization before the interview. Find out where they have been and where they are going. What are the current issues and who are the major players?
* 7. What have you done to improve your knowledge in the last year? Try to include improvement activities that relate to the job. A wide variety of activities can be mentioned as positive self-improvement. Have some good ones handy to mention.
* 8. Are you applying for other jobs? Be honest but do not spend a lot of time in this area. Keep the focus on this job and what you can do for this organization. Anything else is a distraction.
* 9. Why do you want to work for this organization? This may take some thought and certainly, should be based on the research you have done on the organization. Sincerity is extremely important here and will easily be sensed. Relate it to your long-term career goals.
* 10. Do you know anyone who works for us? Be aware of the policy on relatives working for the organization. This can affect your answer even though they asked about friends not relatives. Be careful to mention a friend only if they are well thought of.
* 11. What kind of salary do you need? A loaded question. A nasty little game that you will probably lose if you answer first. So, do not answer it. Instead, say something like, That’s a tough question. Can you tell me the range for this position? In most cases, the interviewer, taken off guard, will tell you. If not, say that it can depend on the details of the job. Then give a wide range.
* 12. Are you a team player? You are, of course, a team player. Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.
* 13. How long would you expect to work for us if hired? Specifics here are not good. Something like this should work: I’d like it to be a long time. Or As long as we both feel I’m doing a good job.
* 14. Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel about that? This is serious. Do not make light of it or in any way seem like you like to fire people. At the same time, you will do it when it is the right thing to do. When it comes to the organization versus the individual who has created a harmful situation, you will protect the organization. Remember firing is not the same as layoff or reduction in force.
* 15. What is your philosophy towards work? The interviewer is not looking for a long or flowery dissertation here. Do you have strong feelings that the job gets done? Yes. That’s the type of answer that works best here. Short and positive, showing a benefit to the organization.
* 16. If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Answer yes if you would. But since you need to work, this is the type of work you prefer. Do not say yes if you do not mean it.
* 17. Have you ever been asked to leave a position? If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved.
* 18. Explain how you would be an asset to this organization You should be anxious for this question. It gives you a chance to highlight your best points as they relate to the position being discussed. Give a little advance thought to this relationship.
* 19. Why should we hire you? Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison.
* 20. Tell me about a suggestion you have made Have a good one ready. Be sure and use a suggestion that was accepted and was then considered successful. One related to the type of work applied for is a real plus.
* 21. What irritates you about co-workers? This is a trap question. Think real hard but fail to come up with anything that irritates you. A short statement that you seem to get along with folks is great.
* 22. What is your greatest strength? Numerous answers are good, just stay positive. A few good examples: Your ability to prioritize, Your problem-solving skills, Your ability to work under pressure, Your ability to focus on projects, Your professional expertise, Your leadership skills, Your positive attitude
* 23. Tell me about your dream job. Stay away from a specific job. You cannot win. If you say the job you are contending for is it, you strain credibility. If you say another job is it, you plant the suspicion that you will be dissatisfied with this position if hired. The best is to stay genetic and say something like: A job where I love the work, like the people, can contribute and can’t wait to get to work.
* 24. Why do you think you would do well at this job? Give several reasons and include skills, experience and interest.
* 25. What are you looking for in a job? See answer # 23
* 26. What kind of person would you refuse to work with? Do not be trivial. It would take disloyalty to the organization, violence or lawbreaking to get you to object. Minor objections will label you as a whiner.
* 27. What is more important to you: the money or the work? Money is always important, but the work is the most important. There is no better answer.
* 28. What would your previous supervisor say your strongest point is? There are numerous good possibilities: Loyalty, Energy, Positive attitude, Leadership, Team player, Expertise, Initiative, Patience, Hard work, Creativity, Problem solver
* 29. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor Biggest trap of all. This is a test to see if you will speak ill of your boss. If you fall for it and tell about a problem with a former boss, you may well below the interview right there. Stay positive and develop a poor memory about any trouble with a supervisor.
* 30. What has disappointed you about a job? Don’t get trivial or negative. Safe areas are few but can include: Not enough of a challenge. You were laid off in a reduction Company did not win a contract, which would have given you more responsibility.
* 31. Tell me about your ability to work under pressure. You may say that you thrive under certain types of pressure. Give an example that relates to the type of position applied for.
* 32. Do your skills match this job or another job more closely? Probably this one. Do not give fuel to the suspicion that you may want another job more than this one.
* 33. What motivates you to do your best on the job? This is a personal trait that only you can say, but good examples are: Challenge, Achievement, Recognition
* 34. Are you willing to work overtime? Nights? Weekends? This is up to you. Be totally honest.
* 35. How would you know you were successful on this job? Several ways are good measures: You set high standards for yourself and meet them. Your outcomes are a success.Your boss tell you that you are successful
* 36. Would you be willing to relocate if required? You should be clear on this with your family prior to the interview if you think there is a chance it may come up. Do not say yes just to get the job if the real answer is no. This can create a lot of problems later on in your career. Be honest at this point and save yourself future grief.
* 37. Are you willing to put the interests of the organization ahead ofyour own? This is a straight loyalty and dedication question. Do not worry about the deep ethical and philosophical implications. Just say yes.
* 38. Describe your management style. Try to avoid labels. Some of the more common labels, like progressive, salesman or consensus, can have several meanings or descriptions depending on which management expert you listen to. The situational style is safe, because it says you will manage according to the situation, instead of one size fits all.
* 39. What have you learned from mistakes on the job? Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it small, well intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned. An example would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and thus throwing coordination off.
* 40. Do you have any blind spots? Trick question. If you know about blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. Do not reveal any personal areas of concern here. Let them do their own discovery on your bad points. Do not hand it to them.
* 41. If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for? Be careful to mention traits that are needed and that you have.
* 42. Do you think you are overqualified for this position? Regardless of your qualifications, state that you are very well qualified for the position.
* 43. How do you propose to compensate for your lack of experience? First, if you have experience that the interviewer does not know about, bring that up: Then, point out (if true) that you are a hard working quick learner.
* 44. What qualities do you look for in a boss? Be generic and positive. Safe qualities are knowledgeable, a sense of humor, fair, loyal to subordinates and holder of high standards. All bosses think they have these traits.
* 45. Tell me about a time when you helped resolve a dispute betweenothers. Pick a specific incident. Concentrate on your problem solving technique and not the dispute you settled.
* 46. What position do you prefer on a team working on a project? Be honest. If you are comfortable in different roles, point that out.
* 47. Describe your work ethic. Emphasize benefits to the organization. Things like, determination to get the job done and work hard but enjoy your work are good.
* 48. What has been your biggest professional disappointment? Be sure that you refer to something that was beyond your control. Show acceptance and no negative feelings.
* 49. Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job. Talk about having fun by accomplishing something for the organization.
* 50. Do you have any questions for me? Always have some questions prepared. Questions prepared where you will be an asset to the organization are good. How soon will I be able to be productive? and What type of projects will I be able to assist on? are examples. treasure
Here are some of the most important personality traits that a candidate should possess to do well at a GD:
- Team Player
- Reasoning Ability
- Creativity/ Out of the box thinking
- Inspiring ability
COMMON GD TIPS
Groupd Discussion Common Tips From FreshersHome.com Team!
The tips given below are appicable in any GD. The only difference between most other GDs and the GDs conducted by the IIMs after CAT or other top B Schools is the intensity of the competition.
* Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not. Be yourself.
* A group discussion is your chance to be more vocal. The evaluator wants to hear you speak.
* Take time to organize your thoughts. Think of what you are going to say.
* Seek clarification if you have any doubts regarding the subject.
* Don’t start speaking until you have clearly understood and analyzed the subject.
* Work out various strategies to help you make an entry: initiate the discussion or agree with someone else’s point and then move onto express your views.
* Opening the discussion is not the only way of gaining attention and recognition. If you do not give valuable insights during the discussion, all your efforts of initiating the discussion will be in vain.
* Your body language says a lot about you – your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.
* Language skills are important only to the effect as to how you get your points across clearly and fluently.
* Be assertive not dominating; try to maintain a balanced tone in your discussion and analysis.
* Don’t lose your cool if anyone says anything you object to. The key is to stay objective: Don’t take the discussion personally.
* Always be polite: Try to avoid using extreme phrases like: `I strongly object’ or `I disagree’. Instead try phrases like: `I would like to share my views on…’ or `One difference between your point and mine…’ or "I beg to differ with you”
* Brush up on your leadership skills; motivate the other members of the team to speak (this surely does not mean that the only thing that you do in the GD is to say "let us hear what the young lady with the blue scarf has to say,” or "Raghu, let us hear your views” – Essentially be subtle), and listen to their views. Be receptive to others’ opinions and do not be abrasive or aggressive.
* If you have a group of like-minded friends, you can have a mock group discussion where you can learn from each other through giving and receiving feedback.
Apart from the above points, the panel will also judge team members for their alertness and presence of mind, problem-solving abilities, ability to work as a team without alienating certain members, and creativity.
Don’t be disheartened if you did not do well in your first group discussion. The best possible preparation for a group discussion is to learn from your past mistakes…
What is the normal duration of a GD?
A GD is generally of 15-20 minutes duration.
How many panel members are there to evaluate?
There are usually 3-4 panel members to evaluate.
Is there time given for preparation after the topic is given and before starting the GD?
Usually some time (2-5 minutes) is given to collect one’s thoughts, but there could be instances when this does not happen, so it is best not to bank on this.
Should I address the panel or the group members?
Don’t ever make the mistake of addressing the panel members. The GD is between you and the other members, not the panel members. You must avoid even looking at the panel members while the GD is in progress. Just ignore their existence.
What is the seating arrangement like?
It could be semi-circular, or circular, or seating along side a rectangular table, depending upon the venue. It is best not to bother about trivial issues like this, which you have no control over.
How should I address the other group members?
If you are initiating the discussion, you could do so by collectively addressing the group as "Friends”. Subsequently, you could use names (if the group has had a round of self-introduction prior to starting the discussion and you remember the names) or simply use pronouns like "he” or "she”.
Suppose I have a lot to say on the topic, should I say all of it?
You would not be looked upon favourably if you kept speaking all the time and did not listen to anyone else. Contrary to the misconception, the person who talks the most is not necessarily the one who is judged the best. The quality and not the quantity of your contribution is the success factor.
Should I encourage others to speak up?
Do not directly put someone who is consistently silent on the spot by asking him/her to speak up. If someone has been trying to speak and has a good point but is cut off constantly, you may encourage him/her to continue with her point as you would like to hear her out.
Are the group members supposed to keep track of the time or will the panel keep track?
It would be good if you are conscious of the time, but not to the point of getting so distracted looking at your watch that you do not contribute to the discussion.
Are we allowed to carry a piece of paper during the GD for noting down important points?
Normally you are, but there may be instances when it is specifically forbidden to carry paper.
Is there any particular seating arrangement, which is favourable to the participants?
If participants are asked to sit in a circle or a semi circle, one position is as good as another. But if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table, then choose a position as close to the centre as possible.
Should we begin the GD by appointing a leader amongst ourselves?
No. You should not. Leadership in a GD is established implicitly through one’s performance in a GD.
Should we distribute the total time available to all the participants to ensure that everybody gets a chance to speak?
Since a GD is not a debate or elocution, the participants should not resort to the strategy of distributing time amongst themselves.
Can we take a definite stand in the GD and then later on during the GD, switch over to another stand?
Yes, provided you do it the right way. In a GD it is quite likely that some other participant’s counter-argument convinces you to your point. If this happens, then it is best if you accept his argument and explain to the group how your previous argument was true within a narrow range, and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range. Naturally, it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against a topic before you learn the facts of the argument. Blindly taking a stand will definitely lead you to trouble. This does not mean you should sit on the fence. You may participate actively by pointing out both sides of the issue in a reasonable and logical manner.
If we do not understand the meaning of the topic, should we ask the moderator to explain it to us?
No. You cannot. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner, it is better to wait for some other participant to explain the meaning of the topic. So listen to the discussion carefully for the first few minutes and when you have figured out what the topic is about, start participating in the discussion.
Should we address the other participants by their names or their assigned numbers?
As far as possible, you should try and avoid names or numbers. It is better to use pronouns such as "he”, "she”, "you” etc. while referring to the members of the group.
Are we expected to stick to the normally accepted line of thought or can we come up with something radical?
By all means you can. It would demonstrate your creativity and originality. Just make sure it is relevant to the topic.
If I feel strongly about an issue, should I voice my feelings?
It is important to be cool and emotionally objective in a GD. If you react emotionally you are likely to lose control over yourself during the group discussion. You have to be calm and logical, not emotional in a GD.
Can I use technical terms or jargon, which is clear to me, but not to the group?
If you have to use technical terms, please do not use abbreviations. After mentioning the term in full take time out to explain to the group what it means. It is quite likely that other participants of the group have a different academic background from you, and you should make sure you are all on a level playing field.
Do I begin my participation by requesting the group’s permission to do so?
It is not likely that you will get a chance to ask for such permission. It may also go against you (as appearing weak on your part).
What is the right time to enter a GD to ensure that I am heard properly?
In any GD, there are crests and troughs during the discussion. The crest is when the noise level is at its peak. The trough is when there is almost total silence. Ideally, you should enter the GD during the trough period. But in competitive GDs, the crests occur more often and troughs may not occur at all. In such cases, you could identify the stages in the GD, where ideas dear to you are being discussed and enter the GD irrespective of the noise level.
How do I participate when the noise level is too high?
You could try the following strategy – Identify the most powerful speaker in the group, and note down the points that he/she is making. The moment the noise level reduces a little, enter supporting the powerful speaker. You will have made a strong ally who will carry you through the noise.
Do I have to be cautious about other participants’ feelings (on sensitive issues like religion, caste etc)?
You certainly do. Insensitivity to others displays a lack of maturity and viciousness. It will act against your favour.
Is it beneficial to be the first speaker in a group discussion?
Being the first speaker is a high risk, high return strategy. If you can make a good opening statement, which is relevant and sets the tone for the GD, it will go in your favour. If you do this well, you may automatically become the group leader. However if you bungle it up (by speaking for the sake of speaking, not really having anything pertinent to say), it will be remembered and will go against your favour.
How critical is my fluency in English to my performance?
Command over English is certainly advantageous but will not compensate for lack of good content. If your content is good, then even if your English might not be great, you must speak it out, rather than be inhibited by lack of good English. You will get credit for soundness of ideas.
How necessary is it to use examples for illustrating an idea?
Use of examples is helpful in elaborating your point, and helping others understand your idea better. But please remember to keep it short and simple because in a competitive GD nobody has the patience to listen to long, drawn out examples.
How much or for how long should I participate?
In a 20 minute GD with 10-12 participants, you should try and participate at least 4 times with each entry lasting at least 25-30 seconds. You could participate more depending on your comfort level and the need for participation.
Is it good to be humorous in a GD?
Depends on the situation. In a GD that is fairly relaxed, it may be acceptable. But in a competitive situation, where the participants are tensed up, your attempts at humour may fall flat.
Should we make an interim summary?
An interim summary is a way of directing the group mid-way through the GD. It helps the group to pick out and focus on the most important points and thus use the remaining time more effectively. However it is not necessary to make an interim summary, if the discussion is already well focused.
What do I do if someone else has already said what I wanted to say?
You have two choices:
Agree with the point made by that person and add on to it by displaying the applicability of the argument to different situations. By doing this you will have broadened the scope of the argument.
Drop the point and think of fresh points.
To avoid getting into a situation where someone else has already spoken your points, do speak up in the first 4-5 minutes of the GD. If you wait longer, it is almost inevitable that someone would have spoken your points.
Is the use of slang/colloquialism permitted?
It is best to avoid using slang.
Can I use a language other than English to drive home my point?
No. You will have to stick to English.
How is aggression taken and measured in a GD?
The moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly, you may take it that you are being too aggressive. The degree of the reaction is the measure of your aggression.
What level of aggression is seen acceptable?
There is a very thin line between aggression and assertiveness. You should always aim to sound assertive and not stubborn.
Is it true that the person who speaks the most in a GD is the one who is most successful?
This is a myth. Generally the person who has a sound knowledge of the topic and is a clear thinker speaks more. This leads the students into believing that whoever speaks most is successful. But just speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far.
Will I be quizzed about my (or others) participation in the GD?
You may be. Therefore it helps to be alert all through the GD.
Is it true that the GD is used more as an elimination technique rather than as a selection tool?
Depends on the institute. In most premier institutes it is used as a selection tool, not as an elimination technique.
What is the level of accuracy desired in the facts and figures you quote during the GD?
An error margin of 5% is acceptable.
Is motivating other people in the group to speak looked upon favourably?
Depends on how it is done. If you openly request someone to speak, you may be putting the other person in a difficult spot, and the evaluators will not look that upon favourably. It is therefore better to use other means of motivation, such as agreeing with a halting speaker, adding on to their points, implicitly supporting and giving them direction.
Does the moderator have any biases or preconceived notions about the topic?
Ideally the moderator is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. But being a human being, the moderator cannot be totally free from bias. Since this is not a factor within your control, there isn’t much point losing sleep over it.
Can we expect the moderator to stop or cut short the GD much before the stipulated time is over?
This may happen if the GD becomes too noisy and if the level of discussion deteriorates abysmally.
Can I be aggressive with a lady participant?
A GD is not the place to demonstrate chivalry. Being rude to any participant (male or female) is downright unacceptable. You need not extend any special privileges to a lady.
Is it all right to ask pointed questions to other participants during a GD?
It is alright to ask questions for the purpose of clarification but not for the purpose of playing the devil’s advocate and proving them wrong. By playing the devil’s advocate you hamper the flow of the GD. The pointed questions unsettle the other participant and the quality of the GD deteriorates. This would reflect badly on you and will go against your favour.
Is it necessary that a group should arrive at a conclusion in the stipulated time?
Ideally a group is supposed to reach a conclusion. Normally the time constraints do not allow the group to do so.
Is an end-summary absolutely essential?
No. If the group has not reached a conclusion, then it would be good if someone puts the whole discussion into perspective by summarizing. But if there isn’t sufficient time, a summary may be avoided.
Do we have to write a synopsis of the GD once it is over?
Some institutes insist on this, but it is not universal.
Is voting an acceptable method of reaching a consensus?
Certainly not. A GD is not a debate.
How should a group select a topic if asked to?
The group should brainstorm for about two minutes and narrow down the list of topics to 3-4. After this the group should prioritize them based on the comfort level and ease of discussion of the topics. This could be done by asking each participant to rank the 4 topics and the most popular choice should be taken.
Are the topics decided on the basis of the academic background of the participant?
No. Topics are usually general in nature to give a level playing field to everyone.
What do I do if one member is very stubborn and aggressive?
*You could use any of the following methods.
*Ignore him and address the other members of the group.
Be assertive and tell him that his argument is faulty.
*Point out to him that his point is well taken and that the group must progress further by discussing the ideas presented by others.
What are the acceptable ways of interrupting somebody else, so that I may make my point?
*You can interrupt in any of the following ways:
*”Excuse me, but I feel that what you are saying isn’t universally true..”
*”Yes, I agree with your idea, and I would like to add on to it”
*”Yes, I think you are right when you say that, but could you clarify what if.”
GD Common Mistakes
Who Learn’s from mistake’s is the won who has the wisdom, and who repeats mistake is the one who does not.
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.
While selection tools and techniques like tests, interviews etc. provide good data about an individual, they fall short in providing real life data of how an individual would be performing in a real life situation especially a group situation. Team work being an integral part of the BPO work profile, it is important to ascertain group and inter-personal qualities of an individual. Group discussion is a useful tool to ascertain these qualities and many organizations use GDs as a selection tool along with Personal Interviews, aptitude tests etc. A GD is an activity where
*Groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyse and discuss within a given time limit, which may vary between twenty minutes and forty-five minutes, or
*They may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem
*They may be given a topic and are asked to discuss the same
1. Preparing for a Group Discussion: While GD reflects the inherent qualities of an individual, appearing for it unprepared may not augur well for you. These tips would help you prepare for GDs:
Reading: This is the first and the most crucial step in preparation. This is a never ending process and the more you read, the better you are in your thoughts. While you may read anything to everything, you must ensure that you are in good touch with current affairs, the debates and hot topics of discussion and also with the latest in the IT and ITES industry. Chances are the topics would be around these. Read both for the thoughts as well as for data. Also read multiple view points on the same topic and then create your point of view with rationale. Also create answers for counter arguments for your point of view. The electronic media also will be of good use here.
Mocks: Create an informal GD group and meet regularly to discuss and exchange feedback. This is the best way to prepare. This would give you a good idea about your thoughts and how well can you convince. Remember, it is important that you are able to express your thoughts well. The better you perform in these mocks the better would be you chances to perform on the final day. Also try to interact and participate in other GD groups. This will develop in you a skill to discuss with unknown people as well.
2. During the Group Discussion:
What do the panelists assess:Some of the qualities assessed in a GD are:
Leadership Skills – Ability to take leadership roles and be able to lead, inspire and carry the team along to help them achieve the group’s objectives.
Communication Skills – Candidates will be assessed in terms of clarity of thought, expression and aptness of language. One key aspect is listening. It indicates a willingness to accommodate others views.
Interpersonal Skills – People skills are an important aspect of any job. They are reflected in the ability to interact with other members of the group in a brief situation. Emotional maturity and balance promotes good interpersonal relationships. The person has to be more people centric and less self-centered.
Persuasive Skills – The ability to analyze and persuade others to see the problem from multiple perspectives.
GD is a test of your ability to think, your analytical capabilities and your ability to make your point in a team-based environment.
These are some of the sub-skills that also get assessed with the skills mentioned above:
- Clarity of thought
- Group working skills (especially during a group task of case study discussion)
- Conflict handling
- Listening and probing skill
- Knowledge about the subject and individual point of view
- Ability to create a consensus
- Openess and flexibility towards new ideas
- Data based approach to decision making
While, it is not possible to reflect all these qualities in a short time, you would do well if you are able to show a couple or more qualities and avoid giving negative evidence on others.
How do I take my chance to speak: Trying to interrupt others while speaking would only harm your chances. Instead, you may try to maintain an eye-contact with the speaker. This would show your listening skills also and would help you gauge from his eye-movement and pitch of voice that he is about to close his inputs. You can quickly take it from there. Also, try and link your inputs with what he has spoken whether you are adding to or opposing his arguments. This would reflect that you are actually being participative rather than just doing a collective monologue.
- How to I communicate in a GD: Be crisp and to the point. Be fact based and avoid making individual opinions that do not have a factual base. Make eye contact with all the members in the group and avoid looking at the panelists while speaking. The average duration of the group discussion provides an average of about 2-3 minutes per participant to speak and you should try to speak about 3-4 times. Hence, you need to be really crisp to reflect the most in those 30-40 sec. slots.
- How do I convince others and make them agree to my view point: A lot of candidates make it their mission to make the group reach to a conclusion on the topic. Do not forget that some of the topics have been eternal debates and there is no way you can get an agreement in 15 mins. on them. The objective is not to make others toe your line but to provide fact based, convincing arguments which create an impact. Stick to this approach.
- Do leadership skills include moderating the group discussion: This is a myth and many people do try to impose their order on the GD, ordering people when to speak and when not to. This only reflects poor leadership. Leadership in a GD would be reflected by your clarity of thought, ability to expand the topic in its different dimensions, providing an opportunity to a silent participant to speak, listening to others and probing them to provide more information. Hence, work on these areas rather than be a self-appointed moderator of the group.
- Listening: This is a key quality assessed during the GD about which many participants forget. Active listening can fetch you credit points and would also provide you with data to discuss. Also, if you have an average of 2-3 minutes to speak, the rest of the 20-25 minutes is required to spent in active listening. For this, maintain eye contact with the speakers, attend to them (like nodding, using acknowledging words like -I see ok, fine, great etc.). This would also make you be the centre of attraction as you would appear non-threatening to the speakers.
- Behaviour during the GD: Be patient; don’t get upset if anyone says anything you object to. Stay objective and don’t take the discussion personally. Also, remember the six C’s of communication – Clarity, Completeness, Conciseness, Confidence, Correctness and Courtesy. Be appreciative & receptive to ideas from other people and open-minded but do not let others to change your own viewpoint. Be active and interested throughout. It is better to participate less if you have no clue of the topic. You may listen to others and take clues from there and speak. You would be assessed on a range of different skills and you may think that leadership is key, you need to be careful that you don’t dominate the discussion.
- Quality Vs Quantity: Often, participants think that success in group discussions depends on how much and how loudly they speak. Interestingly, it’s the opposite. Also, making your point on the topic, your views are important and the group needs to know. This will tell you are knowledgeable and that you participate in groups
- Summarizing: If you have not been able to initiate the discussion, try to summaries and close it. Good summarizing would get you good reward points. A conclusion is where the whole group decides in favour or against the topic and most GDs do not have a closure. But every GD can be summarized by putting forth what the group has discussed in a nutshell. Keep the following points in mind while summarizing a discussion:
- Avoid raising new points.
- Avoid stating only your viewpoint.
- Avoid dwelling only on one aspect of the GD
- Keep it brief and concise.
- It must include all the important points that came out during the GD
- If you are asked to summarise a GD, it means the GD has come to an end.
- Do not add anything once the GD has been summarised.
Some Positive Task Roles in a Group Discussion:You may want to play one or more of them:
- Information seeker
- Information giver
- Procedure facilitator
- Opinion seeker
- Opinion giver
- Social Supporter
- Tension Reliever
Negative Roles to be Avoided
- Disgruntled non-participant
How to face GD
A group discussion consists of -
1. Communication Skills
2. Knowledge and ideas regarding a given subject
3. Capability to co-ordinate and lead
4. Exchange of thoughts
5. Addressing the group as a whole
6. Thorough preparations
Communication Skills -
The first aspect is one’s power of expression. In a group discussion, a candidate has to talk effectively so that he is able to convince others. For convincing, one has to speak forcefully and at the same time create an impact by his knowledge of the subject. A candidate who is successful in holding the attention of the audience creates a positive impact.
It is necessary that you should be precise and clear. As a rule evaluators do not look for the wordage produced. Your knowledge on a given subject, your precision and clarity of thought are the things that are evaluated. Irrelevant talks lead you nowhere. You should speak as much as necessary, neither more nor less. Group discussions are not debating stages.
Ability to listen is also what evaluators judge. They look for your ability to react on what other participants say. Hence, it is necessary that you listen carefully to others and then react or proceed to add some more points. Your behavior in the group is also put to test to judge whether you are a loner or can work in a group.
You should be able to convey your thoughts satisfactorily and convincingly before a group of people. Confidence and level headedness in doing so is necessary. These add value to your presentation. In case you are not good at it, you might gain by joining an institute that offers specialized courses in public speaking. For instance, British Council Division’s English Language Teaching Centre offers a wide range of courses like conversation skills, business communication skills, business writing, negotiation skills and presentation skills. Mostly people attend these courses to improve their communication skills. Students here are involved in activities which use communication skills and teachers provide inputs, monitor and facilitate the classes. The course at the Centre makes you confident enough to speak before people without any nervousness.
Knowledge and Ideas Regarding a Given Subject -
Knowledge of the subject under discussion and clarity of ideas are important. Knowledge comes from consistent reading on various topics ranging from science and technology to politics. In-depth knowledge makes one confident and enthusiastic and this in turn, makes one sound convincing and confident.
Leadership and Coordinating Capabilities -
The basic aim of a group discussion is to judge a candidate’s leadership qualities. The examiner withdraws and becomes a silent spectator once the discussion starts. A candidate should display tactfulness, skill, understanding and knowledge on varied topics, enterprise, forcefulness and other leadership qualities to motivate and influence other candidates who may be almost equally competent.
Exchange of Thoughts -
A group discussion is an exchange of thoughts and ideas among members of a group. These discussions are held for selecting personnel in organisations where there is a high level of competition. The number of participants in a group can vary between 8 and 15. Mostly a topic or a situation is given to group members who have to discuss it within 10 to 20 minutes.
The purpose is to get an idea about candidates in a short time and make assessments about their skills, which normally cannot be evaluated in an interview. These skills may be team membership, leadership skills, listening and articulation skills.
A note is made of your contributions to the discussion, comprehension of the main idea, the rapport you strike, patience, assertion, accommodation, amenability, etc. Body language and eye contact too are important points which are to be considered. .
Addressing the Group as a Whole -
In a group discussion it is not necessary to address anyone by name. Even otherwise you may not know everyone’s names. It better to address the group as a whole.
Address the person farthest from you. If he can hear you everyone else too can. Needless to add, as for the interview, attend the group discussion in formal dress. The language used should also be formal, not the language used in normal conversations. For instance, words and phrases like "yar”, "chalta hai”, "CP”, "I dunno”, etc. are out. This is not to say you should use a high sounding, pedantic language. Avoiding both, just use formal, plain and simple language. Hinglish, (mixture of Hindi and English) should be discarded.
Confidence and coolness while presenting your viewpoint are of help. See that you do not keep repeating a point. Do not use more words than necessary. Do not be superfluous. Try to be specific. Do not exaggerate.
Thorough Preparation -
Start making preparations for interview and group discussions right away, without waiting till the eleventh hour, this is, if and when called for them. Then the time left may not be adequate. It is important to concentrate on subject knowledge and general awareness. Hence, the prime need for thorough preparation. Remember, the competition is very tough. Only 460 candidates make it to the final list from 2.75 lakh civil service aspirants each year.
It may so happen that you are called for interviews and group discussions from three or four organizations but are not selected by any. The reason obviously lies in your not being well-prepared.
In a group discussion you may be given a topic and asked to express your views on it. Or in a case study GD, students have to read a case study and suggest ways of tackling the problem. For this you should have a good general knowledge, need to be abreast with current affairs, should regularly read newspapers and magazines. Your group behaviour and communication skills are on test, i.e. how you convince the others and how clearly you are able to express your points of view. You should be articulate, generate ideas, not sound boring, should allow others to speak, and adopt a stand on a given subject. During the course of the GD this stand can even be changed, giving the impression that you are open to accommodate others’ viewpoints.
Additional marks may be given for starting or concluding the discussion.
Points to Remember -
- 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.
Why do we need Group discussion
* It helps you to understand a subject more deeply.
* It improves your ability to think critically.
* It helps in solving a particular problem.
* It helps the group to make a particular decision.
* It gives you the chance to hear other students’ ideas.
* It improves your listening skills.
* It increases your confidence in speaking.
* It can change your attitudes.
Strategies for Improving GD Skills for Tutorials & Seminars
Asking questions and joining in discussions are important skills for university study. If you find it difficult to speak or ask questions in tutorials, try the following strategies.
Attend as many seminars and tutorials as possible and notice what other students do. Ask yourself:
*How do other students make critical comments?
*How do they ask questions?
*How do they disagree with or support arguments?
*What special phrases do they use to show politeness even when they are voicing disagreement?
*How do they signal to interrupt, ask a question or make a point?
Start practicing your discussion skills in an informal setting or with a small group. Start with asking questions of fellow students. Ask them about the course material. Ask for their opinions. Ask for information or ask for help.
Take every opportunity to take part in social/informal discussions as well as more structured/formal discussion. Start by making small contributions to tutorial discussions; prepare a question to ask, or agree with another speaker’s remarks.
Discussion Etiquette (or minding your manners)
*Speak pleasantly and politely to the group.
*Respect the contribution of every speaker.
*Remember that a discussion is not an argument. Learn to disagree politely.
*Think about your contribution before you speak. How best can you answer the question/ contribute to the topic?
*Try to stick to the discussion topic. Don’t introduce irrelevant information.
*Be aware of your body language when you are speaking.
*Agree with and acknowledge what you find interesting.
*Lose your temper. A discussion is not an argument.
*Shout. Use a moderate tone and medium pitch.
*Use too many gestures when you speak. Gestures like finger pointing and table thumping can appear aggressive.
*Dominate the discussion. Confident speakers should allow quieter students a chance to contribute.
*Draw too much on personal experience or anecdote. Although some tutors encourage students to reflect on their own experience, remember not to generalise too much.
*Interrupt. Wait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak.
Leading a Discussion
You may be in a seminar group that requires you to lead a group discussion, or lead a discussion after an oral presentation. You can demonstrate leadership by:
*introducing yourself and the members of the group
*stating the purpose of the discussion
*inviting quiet group members to speak
*summarizing the discussion
Chairing a Group Discussion
When chairing a discussion group you must communicate in a positive way to assist the speakers in accomplishing their objective. There are at least four leadership skills you can use to influence other people positively and help your group achieve its purpose. These skills include:
*introducing the topic and purpose of the discussion,
*making sure all members have approximately the same time, (i.e. no one dominates the discussion by taking too much time)
*thanking group members for their contribution
*being objective in summarizing the group’s discussion and achievements.
MBA Group Discussion
A group discussion (GD) is a simulated exercise, where you cannot suddenly put up a show, since the evaluators will see through you easily. In this page you can find tips on GD and how to handle them to ensure a positive outcome.
Here’s how most group discussions work
* Normally groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyze and discuss within a given time limit.
* The group may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem.
* The group may be given a topic and asked to discuss on the same.
A panel will observe the proceedings and evaluate the members of the group.