MBA admissions: preparing for group discussion

MBA admissions: preparing for group discussion

Group discussion assesses leadership skills, knowledge, reasoning, initiative and ability to inspire, explains  Nidhi Maheshwari .

With CAT result out, all attention is on to the next stage that is GD/PI. Whereas CAT is all about one’s aptitude, GD/PI focuses on the interpersonal skills of the management education aspirants. Presenting oneself in the right way during GD/ PI is the key towards getting into dream institute and fulfilling first goal towards most structured career in the present era.

Over the years, Master of Business Administration (MBA) has evolved as one of the most coveted post-graduate qualifications across the world. It serves as a launching pad to a successful career. It is not easy to get admission for the MBA programme of a premier management institute. Highly competitive written examinations are followed by a stringent personality assessment process. The first stage tests aptitude while the next stage assesses personality traits. This is done simply because managerial position demands both IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient).

By now, many of you would have become ardent readers of newspapers and magazines, poring over every written word you can come across! Many of you may also be looking into the mirror and questioning who you are and what you want from life. Is there any area in your life where you find yourself paddling upstream? One of the most effective ways to move with the flow is to make your present perfect.

Yes, your present may be a struggle to get admission to the best B-school. That may not be what you want or like, but it is still near perfect. Even if the present isn't exactly what you want, you can still make the most of it by accepting your current reality. The current reality could be: the lack of communication skill needed for personal interview. You are a very good orator but you may not have the right quality to speak before a group or you may fumble when a couple of eyes are staring at you. Accepting the reality helps you avoid the physical exertion involved in paddling against the current. You need to understand the way stress interviews are conducted.

They are drilling you and you need to fight that current and move upstream. You need to focus more, simply because your concentration and attention will act as winds that fill your sails. Instead of working on the basics of grammar at the eleventh hour, it may be wiser to accept your lack of fluency and then concentrate on other ways to make a mark during the interview.

Remember that yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is God's gift. That’s why we call it the present. Start working on your present. Do this and you will have actually paddled upstream to reach nearer the goal that most aspirants aim for. The first step to this success is your prowess at group discussions.

A Group Discussion (GD) at a B-School can be defined as a formal discussion involving 10 to 12 participants in a group. They are given a topic. This topic can be general, specific or abstract. The group members may or may not be given time to collect their thoughts.

GD is a test of interpersonal communication skills. The other facets that may be measured are leadership skills, knowledge, reasoning, initiative and ability to inspire.
Here are some important tips to help ace the GDs.

n  Be as natural as possible. Do not try and be someone you are not. Be yourself.

n A GD is your chance to speak. Points are awarded on the basis of what you say and not what you don’t say.

n Don't start speaking until you have clearly understood and analysed the subject.

n  Try various strategies to help you make an entry: start the discussion or agree with someone else's point and then move on to express your views.

n Opening the discussion is not enough. If you do not give valuable insights during the discussion, all your efforts to initiate the discussion will be in vain.

n Your body language is a mirror of your personality -- your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.

n Be assertive not dominating. Try to maintain a balanced tone in your discussion and analysis.

n Don't lose your composure if anyone says anything you object to. The key is to stay objective: don't take the discussion personally.

n  If you have a group of like-minded friends, you can have a mock group discussion where you can learn from each other by giving and receiving feedback.

Time is the resource that is constant for each and everyone. You need to manage time very effectively if you want to be successful. All other factors being constant, better time utilization will help to improve your performance tremendously, keep stress in check and help you become the efficient professional that you aim to be.

The best part of it is that this skill once learnt is going to help in not only in getting past deadlines at work and college, but also, in all things you ever do in life. It’ll optimize your skills and guarantee success in every endeavour.

The next step is doing some home-work to be prepared for the interviews that will follow. A candidate should always check the type of interview he will be appearing for. While the most prevalent ones are the panel interviews, in some rare cases, group interviews may also be conducted.

Panel interview

Panel interviews are conducted by a group of interviewers. Only one candidate is interviewed at a time. Here the stress is on the personality of the interviewee and how he responds to various questions that range from professional to personal.

The traits that are closely observed are:Body language, Confidence, Stress handling
The preparation for an interview (of either form) would be incomplete without a grinding revision and planning of: Academics, Work experience, General awareness, Background, leanings and personal traits

Group Interview

In group interview, all candidates are gathered together and assessed by one or more interviewers. Here the institute has a chance to screen candidates, by observing how they behave and stand out among their peers. Interviewers are likely to observe: Body language, confidence and attire, Communication skills, Interpersonal skills, Group interaction and participation

Although there are groups or teams, the interviewers scrutinise individuals. The skills measured during a group interview include- Leadership qualities, passion, persuasion and persistence, communication, teamwork, commitment, organisational loyalty and stress management.

And finally remember that these days analytical questions are very common in such assessment arenas. So prepare for them too.

Wishing you all the best and may you ride on the express-way to success!

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