What is a Group Discussion?

A Group Discussion or GD, as it is popularly known, judges the personality of a person. It evaluates the behavioural traits in a person his or her leadership skills, social skills, team skills, problem solving skills and presence of mind.

If we analyse the two words Group and Discussion. Group means a number of individuals who may or may not have interacted before. Discussion means exchanging information on a certain topic and coming (or not coming) to a concrete conclusion.

Hence, we can say that Group Discussion is an invigorative discussion where a topic is analysed and discussed, and in the end, the members come to a fair conclusion. It involves team work, but at the same time, it portrays individual personalities.

Who conducts a Group Discussion?

Group Discussion is conducted by B-schools, institutes and companies. In fact to get admission into B-schools and other management and engineering institutes, GD has become an essential prerequisite. As far as companies are concerned, it is totally at the discretion of the companies if they want GD as part of their interview process.

Why is a GD conducted?

While entrance exams test the candidates for their academics and knowledge of subjects, the GD will test one for their soft skills and their ability to cope with various situations.

Usually the institutes or companies conducting the GD know exactly what they want in their candidates. They are very clear about the specific traits that they want in their candidates. The Group Discussion helps them to analyze whether the candidates possess the required traits or not. 

GD also serves as a mass-elimination tool. When there are many candidates applying for limited seats, the GD can act as a benchmark to select the best among the lot.

What is the common process followed in a GD?

The group usually consists of 6 to 12 members. They are given a topic and a few minutes to prepare. Post which they are called to begin the discussion. The duration of the GD will vary from institute to institute or organization to organization. For each candidate an assessor may be assigned. Usually, an assessor assesses two to three candidates. They will be watching the candidates every move.

Preparing for Group Discussion

There are no specific rules to prepare for a GD. However, below are few points that a person can keep in mind while preparing for a GD. 

BEFORE THE GROUP DISCUSSION

Stock yourself with information

Current Affairs

Historical topics

Sports, Arts & Literature 

Data crunching

Do familiarize yourself with important data. Throwing in some data if required in your GD will definitely create an impression among the assessors.

AT THE GROUP DISCUSSION

Understanding the topic 

When the topic is given, understand the topic carefully. If it is not clear initially or you have some doubt regarding the topic, ask immediately. Clarity of the topic is of utmost importance to ensure that you perform well in the GD. 

Precise and sharp thoughts

As you are gathering thoughts, try to stick to precise and concise thoughts. Remember, when you are communicating, what is more important is what you are communicating rather than how much you are communicating. In a Group Discussion, it is always quality over quantity. Let your views be relevant and to the point. To a great extent, try to do some out-of-the-box thinking so that your view stands out from the rest.

Communicating your views

You may have excellent views on the topic, but are you able to communicate them in an effective manner is the question. Here, is where your communication skills will come to your rescue. If you have good communication skills, well and good, or else you will have to work on developing the same. To develop communication skills, you can choose a topic, stand before the mirror and start talking about it. As you are talking, anticipate few questions from an imaginary audience and try replying them. Analyse what you are doing, try to spot flaws, if any, in your communication and then start working on them. This will help you come across as a confident person during the GD. On the day of the Group Discussion, your aim should be to collate your thoughts in a structured manner and put them across to the team and the assessors in an effective way.

Taking the initiative 


Try to initiate the Group Discussion, if possible. By taking the initiative, you will be giving a structure to the discussion and defining the manner in which the discussion will progress. This will exhibit your quality as a person who can facilitate actions by breaking the ice. A little word of caution here, attempt being the lead only if you have a fair amount of knowledge about the topic and you know exactly what you are speaking. If you take the initiative of being the lead and somehow you are unable to pull it through, then it will backfire completely. So, act wisely.

Knowledge about the topic 

When you are talking on the topic, choose your points in a manner that they convey the depth of knowledge that you possess. Superficial talk is going to be a strict no-no here as the assessors will be easily able to see through. Try to have abstract thoughts around the topic and also try to draw references to different situations or incidents. Citing relevant examples will also help to a great extent.

Understanding dynamics in the group

In a group discussion, try to be in control of the discussion. This is easier said than done, because most of the group members would be trying to do the same. What you can do is follow the discussion keenly and try to pitch in wherever relevant. If you have some good points, try to put them forth and steer the discussion. Do not be aggressive. Do not force your points. If there is a disagreement on the points that you have made, try to counter them with even more valid points. This will not only exhibit your knowledge but also show that you are a good listener. Try to fuel the discussion whenever possible. Give everyone a chance to speak. If someone has not contributed, ask the person to speak up. This will showcase your ability as a team player.

Logical conclusion

When the discussion is about to end, try to conclude it by taking in the points that everyone has made and coming to a decent conclusion. This will indicate your analytical skills and also the way you structure your thoughts.

Generic tips
On the day of GD, dress in comfortable clothes that are simply you
Be confident but avoid being over confident
Talk sense. Avoid superficial talk
Listen carefully and speak only at the appropriate time
Be very sure of what you are speaking
Use easy-to-understand English
Speak loudly and clearly
Do not be deterred by other members aggressive or submissive behaviour
Accommodate diverse view points
Put forth your points without being aggressive
Give due importance to other persons views. However, stick to the point you have made. Try to support it with more view points.
Do not allow yourself to be diverted by other peoples points
Do not be distracted. Your concentration should be solely on the discussion
If you do not know something, do not speak
Do not get excited or aggressive during the discussion. Try to maintain a balanced tone through out
Try to contribute throughout the discussion
Try to be the first and the last to speak
Read as much as possible. Have good and sound knowledge on numerous topics. Watching documentaries on various topics will help here
Improve your vocabulary. This does not mean that you use heavy and big words, but it means that you will be able to understand the topic better and contribute effectively