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This article was first published 13 years ago

IIM: 6 tips to impress the GD panel

Last updated on: January 31, 2011 12:53 IST

Photographs: Rediff Archives Siddharth Balakrishna

Now that the CAT results are out, students need to commence their preparation for the next stage: the Writing Skills, Group Discussion (GD) and Interview round. A quick glance at the admission criteria disclosed by the various top institutes, including the IIMs, on their respective websites clearly brings out that institutes have assigned a large weightage to this part of the selection procedure.

In this article, I shall offer some tips on how candidates can effectively prepare for GDs and impress those moderating the group discussion.

First and foremost, do not leave your preparation for GDs till too late. You shall understand why I make this point as you read through the article.

Tips to prepare for GDs

1. Content

Remember that in order to score well in a GD, you need to demonstrate at least a fair knowledge about the given topic. Thus you need to read widely and extensively over a period of time. Concentrate both on understanding the various nuances/ perspectives about the topic as well as building your knowledge of basic facts and data.

  • Try and predict what topics could be important and read about these. For example, in recent times, there has been a lot of talk on Environmental Issues and Corruption.
  • You can expect topics around these, whether they are land-related scams or the Commonwealth Games. You could also get a topic dealing with centre-state relations, division of states or something on those lines, given the Telengana issue.
  • Perennial favourites are topics that deal with the economy-comparisons between India and China, subsidies, women's empowerment, reservations etc.
  • Try and make notes on these topics. Add to your notes the moment you come across a relevant point.

The author is an MBA from IIM Calcutta and is employed with a management consultancy. He has also been a visiting faculty with MBA coaching centres in New Delhi, and can be contacted at

IIM: 6 tips to impress the GD panel

2. Analysis

In order to truly make your point impressively, try and demonstrate a good ability in analysing issues. This is an important characteristic that the top class management schools look for.

This is where you need to try and go beyond mere opinions and use robust logic, data and examples to justify your point of view.

A balanced viewpoint sometimes helps in this connection. You may aim to express both the pros and cons associated with a contentious topic (such as reservations or subsidies for example) before expressing your final judgement. It is better to avoid getting emotional or merely trying to stick to your opinions.

How can you develop your analytical ability?

A good way is that whenever you read something, ask yourself certain questions: why did a certain development take place? What were the factors that led to this? Whom does it impact and how? What could happen in the future as a result of this?

IIM: 6 tips to impress the GD panel

3. Communication skills

Communication refers to the ability to effectively put across what you know. The manner in which you express your point is also evaluated, besides just the content. My advice is that you need to be assertive in a GD and appear confident, without being aggressive. If you wish to challenge someone or oppose a point of view, try and do so in a polite, non-confrontational manner.

Related to this, remember also that speaking just once during the whole GD will not be enough. Try and make at least three interventions during the GD.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork refers to the ability to relate to and work with others. During the GD, be an 'active listener' and pay attention to what the other participants state. Try and build on the points put forward by others by giving supporting data, examples etc.

If you feel you have spoken a lot, you may give a chance to others. But don't do this too often!

IIM: 6 tips to impress the GD panel

5. Body language

Be careful about the following:

  • Try and maintain eye contact with the entire group during the GD, and not just with one or two people. I have noticed that many participants generally address only those seated directly across the table
  • Avoid aggressive gestures such as waving your hands about, pointing with your hands or any object such as a pen/ pencil etc
  • Be careful of facial expressions: Your expressions should not betray your irritation, disgust etc with the point-of-view expressed by another. After all, they have as much right to their views as you have to yours

6. Practice

Finally, as always, practice is important! Regular practice in mock GDs will increase your confidence levels and ability to interact effectively in groups.