Group Discussion (GD) is a technique used in recruitment by employers. It is more commonly used during recruitment of fresh candidates rather than experienced professionals.
How is a Group Discussion conducted?
The candidates for a Group Discussion are seated in a circle. Usually 10 to 12 candidates are seated though there may be more numbers which depends on the policies of the recruiting company. The moderator, who is an official from the company side, spells out the rules of the GD.
The moderator provides a topic and an amount of time to think about it and write down the points. The moderator then indicates to start speaking after the amount of time to think is over. However, we have seen cases of moderators providing a topic and asking the candidates to start without giving time to think or write down the points.
The candidates speak on the topic. It is common for a speaker to interrupt another speaker. The moderator may or may not provide an indication that the time is nearing an end. After the completion of the time, the moderator stops the Group Discussion and asks the candidates to leave.
The selection is made based on the criteria which differs from company to company. The results are declared, and the qualified candidates move to the next round if the GD is an elimination round.
Reasons for conducting Group Discussion
We mentioned that GD is a technique in the placement process. Companies generally conduct GDs for several reasons. We shall discuss them one by one.
- Elimination: Group Discussion is an effective way to bring down numbers. If 100 candidates apply for 10 positions, a company may conduct a GD to bring down the numbers to say 50, and then go for interviews of 50 candidates instead of 100. The principle being followed is ‘keep the best, eliminate the rest’.
- Communication: This is the most important quality that is assessed in a GD. A candidate with good communication skills will have a higher chance of success than a candidate with average skills. You should have a good command on the English language and be able to speak fluently and confidently. In case you feel you need to improve your English skills, do not leave it in your to do list before placement, better start early.
- Content: During a GD, time is limited. A candidate can score if she is able to put in as many points as possible. Also, she must counter others logically. This is where content comes in, the more you read the more you will have ideas which help during a GD. It is good to read current affairs as a lot of Group Discussion topics are based on them. People who read books and novels will naturally develop an idea to speak on a wide variety of topics, especially to handle abstract topics.
- Etiquette and Manners: This is a quality that is judged not only during the GD but through the entire placement process. Organisations would like to recruit people with proper etiquette and manners. How is it demonstrated during a GD? A candidate will be able to show these traits in a positive way by being polite and considerate in a GD. It is okay to interrupt but one should not sound rude. Shouting, dominating, using unparliamentary language are all considered to be poor manners. We see candidates raise their voice to make a point. Is it ill mannered to do so? We do not think so. There is a fine line here between being well mannered or being improper. Raising of one’s voice, politely asking someone to be silent so that one can make his or her point is okay as the person does not sound rude but is assertive.
- Reasoning: A candidate may find his ideas being challenged by another participant. It is common and positive to challenge and question others. The moderator in this case would keenly observe both the person challenging and being challenged and usually a person who is able to reason out well wins. Therefore, when you make a point, make sure you will be able to defend it well, that you are well informed on the point and have weighed in both the pros and the cons.
- Leadership: A Group Discussion is a place where a candidate has ample opportunities to demonstrate his/her leadership qualities. It could start in the way you introduce the topic, help in keeping the discussions on track, be fair to everybody by requesting people to speak who have been silent and try to control unruly behaviour. Companies would like to recruit candidates who can be potential leaders.
There could be a few more traits that a company would like to assess during a GD. It depends on the policies of the companies. If you keep the qualifying factors in mind and prepare accordingly, you should do well.
Types of Group Discussion
We have seen that there are three types of GDs usually conducted by organisations.
We can club a number of topics under simple topics. Current affairs are very commonly asked topics. For example – India’s response to Covid 19 has been proper, The Ladakh standoff demonstrates China’s high handedness. We could be given topics on social relevance. For example – Gender equality has been achieved in India.
We have seen that Idioms and Phrases are quite common as abstract topics. Example – Every cloud has a silver lining. It could be so abstract as to not make sense at first glance. Example – Seven colours of the rainbow. The trick in solving these topics are to be creative.
Companies have been adopting case studies in Group Discussion for quite some time now. A case study of usually a page or two is given. It could also be a caselet of one or two paragraph. Usually a business scenario is described with a problem statement which the group is asked to discuss and solve.
In this article we have discussed how a Group Discussion is conducted and the parameters of assessment. We have also mentioned the types of GDs. Watch this space. We shall come up with more thoughts on how to be successful in a GD and the Dos and Don’ts. Provide your comments or ask a question, we shall be happy to respond.