How to Handle Group Discussion?
A Key Selection Tool
Organizations are trying to get the best human resource for their company. Reasons are not difficult to find, on one hand there are abundant manpower available globally and moreover the recent downturn has enabled the companies to hunt for those who have given pink slips and golden handshakes.
Companies, especially the ones which are willing to leverage this downturn for their own advantages would definitely go out of the way to ensure that the best human capital is there in the ranks, when the recessionary clouds are over. This would increase their competitive advantages vis-à-vis the competitors. Earlier it was only the knowledge based industries like consulting, information technology, information technology enabled services, training and development, biotechnology which were emphasizing on the importance of human capital, now even the old economy players like manufacturing and other heavy industries player are in the prowl to rope in the best human resource. This calls for an excellent screening process so as screen the right man for the right job at the right time at the right cost!
Companies are therefore putting challenges in front of the job aspirant so that they can know the exact capabilities before hiring a person.
There are many ways to do so. Few of the methodologies adopted by companies are group discussion, written test comprising of domain knowledge, analytical ability, comprehension and vocabulary, logical reasoning, stress interview, personal interview, case analysis, situation analysis to name a few. This article presents group discussion and how the same is used by employers to shortlist people in their rolls.
The questions which would come to someone’s mind is ‘Why is group discussion required’, ‘what is group discussion’, ‘how is group discussion handled’, ‘what should I do to succeed in a group discussion’ and many other questions which may be creating a puzzle in the mind of the aspirant. To put it plainly group discussion is one of the selection tool where people are made to sit in a group of six to seven people and they are asked to dwell on a topic.
Observers standing in a watching distance notes down the points in terms of flow of thought, communication skills, knowledge quotient, leadership skills, group dynamics, ability to hear, convincing ability, ability to maneuver a discussion and many other qualities. It is one of the tried and tested models to shortlist candidates for jobs or any other allied assignments. The topics given for discussion are generally topics which have contemporary significance. This tests the knowledge level of the aspirants and also helps them to square off with their competitors to get noticed by their employers or evaluators.
How to prepare
It is important for a job aspirant to prepare well for a job related group discussion as quite often this is the first screening process and if one stumbles in this first step it’s all over for him/her. Preparing for group discussion and does not call for rocket science like abilities. However, there are certain traits which need to be imbibed if one is to be successful in a group discussion.
One has to be a voracious reader, or at least keep in touch with the latest pertaining to his own field or things which are of common importance. It is therefore imperative for the person concerned to make him/her aware about the latest via newspapers, magazines and internet. Once the knowledge gathering process has started it is ideal to start the exercise. If one is getting the exposure in the college its good otherwise it can also be initiated with like minded friends having the same goal of cracking a group discussion for getting a job or for admission to a premium college.
This simulation exercise however has to be done with utmost sincerity, failing which the prime objective goes for a toss. The friends can sit together in a group of six and seven people and decide a topic on which the deliberation will take place. Once that is finalized two or three friends are appointed as critical observers who would see the deliberation from a distance as external observers and grade the individuals participating on various parameters like communication skills, flow of thoughts, synchronization, leadership qualities on the basis of group management skills, team dynamics, ability to initiate, language skills, knowledge, attitude, and many other allied characteristics. It is very important for the observer to be critical so that the participants can know their actual standing.
The teams can be changed and the same exercise can be repeated with different topics and different team members, which would result in increasing the ability to face a group discussion. It is also important for every individual to record all the comments on a daily basis and work upon the same so that the shortcomings are overcome with every effort.
Some important points
Here are some important points which help in handling a group discussion. They cannot be considered the thumb rules as application of the same would vary from one situation to another.
(1) Its better to initiate the discussion
(2) Its always better to navigate the discussion especially when it goes off track
(3) It is good to allow everyone to speak
(4) It is not advisable to impose one’s own thoughts and will on the other members
(5) It is better to make notes of what the other members has to stay so that one can maneuver the discussion accordingly
(6) It is good to have a positive body language which compliments the verbal skills
(7) It is ideal if one has not started the discussion to summarize the discussion at the end of the group discussion
(8) It is better to have a good grasping on the topics of importance especially the contemporary ones
(9) It is better to learn from every other member in the group as a group exercise offers a good learning opportunity.