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Top 10 mistakes you must avoid in a Group Discussion

Last updated on: December 21, 2013 10:59 IST

Top 10 mistakes you must avoid in a Group Discussion

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Ranjit Goswami

Read on to find out how these seemingly silly mistakes could lead to you being denied admission in a business school.

Any management aspirant who makes it to through the Common Admission Test knows for a fact that his/her admission is not sealed until s/he clears the Group Discussion and Personal Interview rounds.

We share some examples of candidates who got it all wrong in the GD round and ended up losing a prospective management seat.

Read on find out what did not work in their favour and what you should do right in a difficult situation.

1. Emotional outburst

Sangeeta 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 Sangeeta finally got an opportunity to speak, instead of focusing 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 Sangeeta essentially did was...
· 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.

The author Ranjit Goswami is Dean, Institute of Management Technology Nagpur. He holds a PhD in Management from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and is an MBA from IIT Bombay.

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Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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2. Showing off egotism 

Siddartha 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 per cent 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.

In fact, too much of reliance on facts and specifics indicates how self-centered you are and highlights your inability to work in an atmosphere where different opinions are expressed.

What you must do...

  • 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.
  • It's 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.

 



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3. 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.

What you must do

  • 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.


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4. Managing one's insecurities

Tanya 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.

What you must do

In a GD, 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.

A decent communication skill 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.



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5. Language

So many students also participate in GD and PI without working on their language, accent, grammar and communication skills.

Although they study hard for months at a stretch, not being able to talk properly makes it impossible for them to communicate the knowledge they have.

This makes them look and feel stupid.

What you must do

Make sure to work on your language if you don’t want to feel sapped of your confidence all of a sudden.



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6. Too scared to speak

Rahul has always been a quiet boy throughout his life.

He is knowledgeable but is afraid to speak in public.

In his recent GD, his group had the easiest topic. Yet, Rahul couldn't speak even once.

This is a classic example of what happens to many of the students when they are suddenly confronted by a group of strangers.

Even though some of these students have really good points, they are afraid to speak up.

This leaves a very bad impression on the minds of the panelists and can even turn against you.

What you must do

To combat such problem, it is suggested to form a small peer group where one topic can be discussed every two days. This facilitates flow of knowledge among the group and also curbs fright.



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7. Talking endlessly

Urvashi is a garrulous young lady.

She has always been so among friends and in school. But, today is a new day.

She has been selected to appear for the GD of a prestigious institute.

She was determined that she would not let anyone speak. And that is exactly what she did.

Her group was given an abstract topic and even before anyone else would suggest starting, she began the discussion.

During the course of discussion she made blunders:

  • She raised her voice
  • Her hand movements were such that it seemed she was shooing away the other speakers
  • She was hardly sympathetic towards other speakers
  • At times her points were illogical and unscientific

This went against her and even though she could speak, she didn't know where and when to stop.

What you must do

Students are always judged on how they behave in a group. After you have presented your side, you must allow the others to speak as well. 



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8. Dressing inappropriately

Whether it is a GD or a PI, always dress appropriately.

Some students dress up shabbily: un-ironed shirt, crinkled trousers, unkempt hair, too much make-up, boys wearing ear-rings, etc.

What you must do

It is always advisable to dress in a proper collared suit for the men and either Indian or Western formals for women, keeping accessories and make-up to bare minimum.



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9. Procrastination

Most aspirants think it is a good idea to wait for the Common Admission Test results to be announced to start preparing for the GD. This is a big mistake.

What you must do

Start early. Make it a point to read newspapers, magazines regularly and watch news channels.

This helps one in gathering a lot of relevant points for the GD and to excel in the PI.

Nowadays, the panelists judge students more on the knowledge quotient and this comprises both Indian and World current affairs.

If you want to leave a good impression on the interviewer then buckle up your shoes and get started.



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10. Bluffing

A vast majority of students just cannot say 'NO'.

They make it a point to answer to every question that the interviewer asks just to prove a point. This in turn goes against them.

What you must do

Always remember that the panelist sitting opposite to you has a considerable amount of experience.

They know who is bluffing and who is genuine.

If you don't know the answer to a question, just say "Sir, I don't know".

They don't expect you to know everything. In fact, they don't even want to know everything.



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