years ago, I had applied to an MNC for a job in their HR team.
I was called to attend a group discussion. I was part of an 8-member
group, and found that most of the other group members were from
premier business schools, with a couple of years of experience
more than mine. In comparison I was only a fresher. As the discussion
began I soon realised that they seemed to go by the book, as far
as preparations for the discussion went!
the person who takes the lead in a group discussion is supposed
to have an edge over the others. However, I have found that taking
the lead and speaking first is a two-edged sword: You can
either be a fantastic success and win the confidence of the group
as well as the evaluating panel, or your attempt could make you
the laughing-stock of the group.
this particular instance, two of the participants were straining
at the leash, and both wanted to begin first! One got in ahead
by a few seconds, but the second made up for his delay in volume.
As a result, there was utter chaos for a couple of minutes, with
each trying to out-shout the other. A few other members, realising
what the matter was, tried to join the fray. I was aghast but
decided not to add to the noise!
a few minutes, when there was a pause, I asked: `Now with all
your support can we all get together to discuss the matter at
hand? Perhaps we could start by speaking in turn, so that everyone's
opinion can be heard?' The others looked blank for a moment, but
realised what they were doing and spoke one after the other! By
not joining the racket and by getting the group to follow some
discipline, I was acknowledged as the team leader. Later, I was
told that my calm and sensible behaviour had also impressed the
evaluating panel. An unexpected outcome, as I only wanted to get
the discussion on track!
thing employers rely upon to learn more about you is your body
language. A candidate who appears professional (or is not
too overbearing) is more likely to be noticed favourably by the
panel. And, of course, language skills are vital. Speaking
fluently and clearly is an asset, but you must be able to organise
your thoughts before you speak. Your ability to conceptualise,
throw new insights into the discussion are being evaluated.
polite - it never hurts to say `Please' or `Excuse me' - and
it creates a good impression! Avoid phrases like `I strongly disagree'
or `Definitely not'. As an employer, I am more impressed by candidates
who are able to lead subtly than by those who get their
way by being loud and abrasive. The candidate's knowledge of the
field may be sound, but a certain degree of maturity and wisdom
are essential to effectively implement any task.
my experience, employers are more impressed by a candidate whose
analytical skills are sharp, who is focussed on the matter at
hand, and who is astute. Candidates who are receptive
to others' opinions, and whose own opinions are flexible
enough to accommodate someone else's suggestions, are more likely
to make it to the interview stage. I have found that being assertive
without being aggressive is an invaluable skill during group
preparing for the group discussion, read as much as you can
- there are plenty of books and magazines that provide hints on
how to handle group discussions. But remember these books and
magazines are not any substitute for your common sense and
even instinct. My own personal experience only at the group
discussion I mentioned earlier reconfirms the same. …. While I
made it to the interview stage, the initiators of the discussion
did not make it!
as I wish you good luck I encourage each one of you to be your
natural self… for banking on your own various strengths and common
sense will surely help you do well."