GD is a method of screening candidates for a job by testing their knowledge, confidence, and personality. You would be selected based on at least one (not necessarily both) of the following two:
- Content: Knowledge, critical-thinking, creativity, reasoning, logic, and argumentative skills.
- Behaviour/Personality: Confidence, communication-skills, leadership, and assertiveness.
- Around 8-14 people at a time, arranged in a semi-circle
- Time: Usually around 10-20 minutes long; they may or may not tell you in advance
- May be organized or chaotic, it’s not certain. The discussion does lead to a fight sometimes!
- Topics: Be prepared for anything, from abstract to specific technical ones. (E.g., “And the clock struck 12” to “The impact of E-commerce on the Kirana stores in India”)
- SPEAK UP! If you don’t speak up, you’re almost guaranteed to get rejected. Make at least 3-4 solid points in the entire discussion.
- Be loud and clear; use gestures; and make eye contact with everyone while talking.
- Look at the moderator’s reactions every now and then to gauge what he/she might be interested in. (Don’t make eye contact with moderators, just glance quickly!)
- Give your input, back it up with an example or logic, and then conclude the point by connecting it to the topic. Don’t leave the point hanging without a clear message. Use examples and information that people can relate to and then substantiate your point. (Do NOT use personal examples or stories only you know.)
- Carry a paper and pen, and write down the topic if you need to. Misunderstanding the topic will be suicidal. (Carry water if your throat gets dry due to anxiety or speaking too much!)
- If you’re not fluent or confident in English, mix it up with Hindi. If you need to, speak purely in Hindi! Yes, it’s not ideal to do that, but understand: Speaking in Hindi gives you a chance, whereas staying quiet does not. You MUST speak up.
- Do NOT get into a personal debate with someone. Don’t try to prove someone else wrong. Stick to the topic. Make sure you talk to the entire group; refrain from a side-discussion.
- If the moderator asks you to wrap-up, or tells you only 1-2 minutes are left, then begin summarizing/concluding; avoid introducing a new point at this time.
- You CAN go against a point you made previously if you want to. But keep the focus on moving the discussion forward. (To be clarified in the session.)
Avoid being interrupted:
Do NOT allow someone to interrupt you (unless you’ve spoken many times already).
- Increase your volume, ignore them, and continue talking
- Request the person to let you finish (or ask them firmly)
- Keep saying the same line repeatedly until everyone’s listening. E.g., “I think that we need to…” – Repeat this line 3 times, each time increasing your volume, until people let you finish.
Interrupting and getting your point across:
- You can argue against what someone said, by presenting your own view.
- Being a moderator: You can bring the group/person back to the topic if they’re digressing; Allow others to speak; Ask a quiet person for his/her opinion; Request the loud ones to calm down; Set an agenda or rule for the group
- Introduce a new point altogether. Try connecting the topic to topics like Education, Politics, Sports, Business, Economics, Government, Law, Environment, Social Media, Religion, Culture… or ANY topic that you are strong at. E.g., a dry topic related to FDI in India can be connected with the rise of international Fashion brands, for someone who’s interested in Fashion and has no knowledge of the financial sector.
What to do if you’re soft-spoken, or if you can’t think of new points:
- You will need to “yell”. Don’t worry, it won’t be rude!
- Take someone else’s point and package it better. Or repeat someone else’s point if it wasn’t heard/discussed by the group earlier.
- Show high involvement through active listening (including head nods); and use verbal agreements followed by a quick example to solidify someone’s point. E.g., “Yes, I think policing in India is improving. Women officers are more commonly seen now…”
- Practice speaking very loud in your daily conversations with groups.
- Practice speaking up in the classroom. Sit in the back of the class and yell out your questions or responses during lectures.
- Understand that it doesn’t matter if you have been soft-spoken all your life. It’s a skill, without which you will not be able to handle a dominating person or a disorganized scenario. You’re not born with a habit of speaking softly; you should be able to use a loud voice when required… like in a GD. This is a situation that requires you to sometimes SHOUT! Don’t go home without getting that desired job simply because your voice is too soft!
- You’re running the show if you’ve already made 3-4 solid points, and if the group is looking at you when they’re talking, as if to seek your approval.
- However, you must be liked by them also. This is the key – you must be easy to get along with and have a pleasant personality.
- If you’ve spoken enough or established yourself as a leader, then instead of hogging the discussion, try “being the moderator” (see above).
- If there are more than 2 strong players, you may need to compete with them to take control of the discussion. Find an area they know little about, and which the group enjoys discussing. This could mute the competitor for a few minutes. (Be careful when using advanced tactics like these, they can backfire!)