Group discussions are an important part of the selection process for any B-school and for an IIM it is all the more important as it's the first time that the panel gets to see you and listen to you. To ensure that one does well in a group discussion, one has to prepare and practice.
Through this article, we will try and give some tips and techniques which can go a long way in helping the candidate come out with flying colors in the group discussion.
What should I always remember?
First things first, most candidates must remember that it's a discussion and hence it involves both speaking and listening. Doing only one of the two will not be called a discussion and hence a candidate should ensure that he listens as much as he speaks.
Besides this, the purpose of a group discussion must be clear to a candidate. The purpose of a group discussion is to understand the given problem or topic in its entirety and to try and reach a logical conclusion or opinion. Enough time should be given to understand the problem and jumping to a conclusion is the biggest mistake one can make. Mere consensus building is not the real purpose.
The other most important aspect about a discussion is to approach the topic or the problem in a structured manner. One should not analyse a problem and suggest a solution without looking at the objectives, without weighing alternative solutions and without predicting the kind of challenges that may arise while implementing the proposed solution.
Besides, this one must try and come up with relevant examples to corroborate one's argument since they add a lot of weight to the argument and clarifies what one intends to say. A candidate should also try and be creative and come up with ideas from what he has read.
Communication is an area that plays a very important role. A candidate must speak clearly, slowly and briefly. One must present his argument by giving relevant reasons and examples as it builds a stronger argument.
How do I prepare?
As far as the preparation for a GD is concerned, the candidate should read extensively. The reading should be done with the goal of building perspective and developing an understanding and not just merely remembering facts and figures.
We recommend that one should read articles from newspapers, business magazines, online and then pause for a while to think about what one has read. A candidate should question himself on his understanding of the article. For instance, if the article is on an important business acquisition, then he should ask questions such as "what does it mean for the company", "how will the industry change as a result of this", "what should a competitor do", "what can be some of the problems that may arise". This will help a candidate not only build perspective, but will also help him develop the ability to think.
Once a topic is given to a candidate, the candidate must try and look at some of the keywords from the topic to generate ideas. The candidate can also approach it from the point of view of affected parties. Practicing generating ideas and speaking can help. One can even stand in front of the mirror and practice.
In the end, a candidate should stay calm and confident to be able to think clearly and give good arguments. Remember that it's a discussion and forget for some time that you have to perform. If one makes 3-4 good arguments during different times in the discussion, the one can sail through.
Contributed by the students of IIM Lucknow.