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A group discussion or GD, is a form of many-on-many discussion. It has become an inseparable part of admissions to management institutes and your selection in campus interviews.
A GD is held to identify certain traits that companies and institutes like to see in their employees or students. Let's take a look at the traits which the evaluators look out for in a candidate during the GD.
~ Knowledge: Whatever you do in a GD, your knowledge about the subject can't be replaced by anything else. You are required to talk in a GD but inputs that don't contain any substantial value will not help in any way. Be a voracious reader to increase your knowledge on various subjects. Newspapers, TV, magazines, news portals etc are great sources of knowledge.
~ Alertness and presence of mind: In a GD you are required to carefully listen to the other person's thoughts and keep an argument, example or a supportive statement, fact, example ready to participate in the discussion. Here comes into picture your alertness and ability to think and act immediately. As you participate in a GD, make sure that you sit with an attentive mind and keep taking down the relevant points put forward by others.
~ Communication: You may have a lot of good points to put across but if you can't communicate them clearly, you won't stand a chance when it comes to impressing the evaluators. Practice communicating in a clear and effective way with your friends, family or study group.
~ Confidence: Your self confidence adds a lot of value to your candidature. Look at every group member as you speak, avoid too much hand movement and looking at evaluators.
~ Leadership and team skills: Your participation in a GD clearly establishes not only your leadership skills but also your capability to work in a team. To meet the objectives, a good leader has to be a team player.
~ Goal orientation: Since so many people participate in a GD, the chances of the discussion moving away from the subject are high. Your focus on the goal can get you some extra points.
Now, as you are being evaluated for the above discussed traits, you must avoid things that can work to your disadvantage and might cost you the selection. Here are some things that you must avoid doing as a GD participant:
~ Initiating the discussion without proper subject knowledge
Although initiating the discussion helps you get the immediate attention of the evaluators, sharing irrelevant details just for teh sake of talking can work to your disadvantage. Start first only if you know the subject well otherwise wait for others to start and get a feel of the subject before entering into the discussion.
~ Snatching another's chance to speak
Give your group members a chance to speak. Talking more won't get you through the GD. In fact it will give the evaluators a feeling that you are not a team player. Making short and relevant contributions of 20-30 seconds 3-4 times in the discussion is enough.
~ Interrupting others
Let the other person finish his comment before you speak. Interrupting someone is counted as a negative trait. Remember, it is a discussion not a debate. Don't jump at the conclusions. Listen carefully to the other person before putting your point across.
In a GD you are expected to communicate with all the members of the group. Do not keep looking at one person while talking. Establish eye contact with all the members of the group. It is a many-on-many discussion not one-on-one.
~ Shouting or dominating
Keep you emotions in check. Do not try to dominate the others or let your emotions rule you. Sometimes it might happen that a group member might say something that hurts your feelings such as a comment on your race or religion, make sure that you do not get into an argument. Your focus should be to effectively meet the goals of GD topic.
~ Showing off
You have to put across your knowledge on the subject during the GD but you have to be very careful about the thin demarcation between showing off and knowledge sharing. For eg, using statistics and facts during the GD is a good thing to do but you must not overdo it enough to nauseate the group members.
~ Low self confidence or insecurities
As we have seen earlier, one of the traits evaluated during a GD is your self confidence. Do not hesitate to speak confidently, even if you might be short of ideas or knowledge on the subject. Listen to others and put across your thoughts in a clear and audible voice. Make sure that you make eye contact with all the group members.
~ Slang and negative gestures
GD is a formal discussion. Avoid informal words and negative gestures. For eg avoid words like gonna, wanna, ya etc. Similarly avoid gestures like pointing fingers, tapping the desk with the pen.
If you ensure that you do not commit these mistakes during the GD, you will not have to worry too much about the negative marks and your chances of getting through it also become much brighter.
Kshipra Singh is a contributor to www.CareerRide.com, a website that addresses technical and personal aspects of an IT interview. CareerRide also provides sample CVs and answers to questions asked in a personal and technical interview.
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