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Group discussion: Winners' skills

Group discussion is an important dimension of the job selection process. Any job requires employees to work with others for effective functioning. Therefore, people skills are an important aspect of any job. In today's context, the organisations are interested in team players rather than individual contributors even if they are excellent performers by themselves.

Employers during group discussion evaluate the candidatesí potential to be a leader and also his/her ability to work in teams.

Normally group discussions are used in the selection process for management trainees and executive positions. Employers are looking for candidates who have potential to be executives and to lead teams of people.

Here's how most group discussions work:

  • Normally groups of 8-10 candidates are formed into a leaderless group, and are given a specific situation to analyse and discuss within a given time limit.

  • They may be given a case study and asked to come out with a solution for a problem.
  • They may be given a topic and are asked to discuss on the same.

A panel, which normally comprises the functional and HR executives of the company will observe and evaluate the members of the group.

Here is a sample list of skills assessed during a group discussion process:

  • Leadership skills:

Ability to take leadership roles and be able to lead, inspire and carry the team along to help them achieve groupís objectives.

Example: To be able to initiate the group discussion, or be able to guide the group especially when the discussion begins losing relevance or try to encourage all members to participate in the discussion.

  • Communication skills:

The participating candidates will be assessed in terms of clarity of thought, expression and aptness of language. One key aspect is listening. It indicates a willingness to accommodate others views.

Example: To be able to use simple language and explain concepts clearly so that it is easily understood by all.

  • Interpersonal skills :

Is reflected in the ability of the individual to interact with other members of the group in a brief situation. Emotional maturity and balance promotes good interpersonal relationships. The person has to be more people centric and less self-centered.

Example:To remain cool even when someone provokes you by with personal comment, ability to remain objective, ability to empathise, non-threatening and more of a team player.

  • Persuasive skills :

In terms of ability to analyse and persuade others to see the problem from multiple perspectives without hurting the group members.

Example: While appreciating the other personís point of view, should be able to effectively communicate your view without obviously contradicting the other person's opinions.

  • Problem solving skills:

Ability to come out with divergent and offbeat solutions and uses oneís own creativity.

Example: While thinking of solutions, don't be afraid to think of novel solutions. This is a high- risk high-return strategy.

  • Conceptualizing skills :

The ability to grasp the situation, take it from the day to day mundane problem level and apply it to a macro level.

Example: At the end of the discussion, you could probably summarize the findings in a few sentences that present the overall perspective.

A note of caution Ė Can we acquire all the skills overnight or can we put up a show?

A group discussion is a simulated exercise, where you cannot suddenly put up a show, since the evaluators will see through you easily. The purpose of the article is to sensitise you to these issues so that you can develop yourself with time.

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Group discussions: Learning from mistakes

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