Preparing for MBA Group Discussion


Group Discussion (GD) in MBA entrance exams is a criterion tool used by the B-Schools in selecting candidates as it helps in getting lot of information about the candidate’s personality. GDs’ are used in assessing certain group skills that are difficult to evaluate during an interview. These skills include leadership skills, social skills, listening and articulation skills, situation handling ability and interpersonal skills.

Normally groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyze and discuss within a given time limit. The group may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem. The group may be given a topic and asked to discuss on the same.

Most GDs follow one of the three formats: Structured, Unstructured, or Specialized.

a. Regular Structured GDs:
In these type of GDs, the time limit and topic is defined. No consensus is expected at the end of it. No leader is selected for facilitating the process. These types of GDs are much easier to handle. Topics chosen are usually general and do not require technical knowledge.

b. Unstructured GDs:
In this GD, choosing a leader is mandatory and the group has to reach a consensus at the end of it. The leader has to direct the group, set the tone for discussion and control the dynamics of the group. Things are sometimes made more complicated by asking the group to propose a topic, discuss it and reach a consensus.

c. Specialized GDs:
This GD comprises of role-plays or scripted GDs where the candidates are given a certain brief about a role that they need to play. For example, a business situation where two companies are negotiating a deal may be used. Candidates would be given the profile of the two CEOs, Marketing Managers, HR managers, advisors, and a neutral entity like a consultant. Alternatively, candidates could be given the role of the five Pandavas and the main Kauravas negotiating the distribution of their kingdom in 20th century setting!

Critical Success Factors in a GD

  • Innovativeness: Ability to have an entirely different perspective
  • Quality of Content: It shows the level of preparedness
  • Logical Ability: Ability to reason, think and debate the pros and cons.
  • Behavioural Skills: Aggressiveness is negative while assertiveness is positive. Assertiveness is standing on your own feet, while aggression is trampling on others’ feet
  • Communication: This includes articulation, listening and body language. Clarity of thought leads to articulate language and frequent and consistent participation. Fundamental knowledge of language is all one needs
  • Leadership: Leadership involves all the above skills. More importantly, the fundamental strength that you need to portray to be effective is Mobility. It is mobility that lets you demonstrate leadership skill as the context demands

Cardinal sins in a GD

  • Do not use slang like Yaar, Univ, Princi, etc!!
  • Do not pepper your language with an accent.
  • Do not use verbal tics such as Hmm, like, But, etc.
  • Never bluff as the panel will easily figure out that you are an accomplished liar.
  • Never interrupt or finish a sentence of others.
  • Never show up late
  • You should never get defensive or try to rationalize
  • No negative words about anyone
  • You should never allow yourself to lose focus after a string of unanswered questions.

The most important factor of GD is that the panel should notice you. For this, you should ensure that you get heard. You have to be assertive. Make sure you get a chance to speak and don’t just keep yourself mum in front of the people as many candidates complain that they don’t get the chance to speak.

You should contribute to the discussion but a meaningful contribution is only worth. Focus on the quality of your contribution and not the quantity.

Try to add something, which is not obvious, as everybody will just discuss on the obvious aspects of the topic. For this, you should carry pen and paper to jot down relevant points so that you can ensure that you can have a wider perspective about the given topic.

Click here for details on GD like important GD topics and GD guidelines.

For details on preparing for written test, click here.
For details on preparing for personal interview, click here.

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