Friday, January 05, 2007

GD prep

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Group Discussion is something that scares people a little bit. Just because of lack of experience. You would have attended a lot of interviews for jobs but few GDs. My opinion is GD is easier. While in an interview, you are being probed by a superior, in a GD you are in a "discussion" with your peers. It is similar to any daily discussion you may have with friends or family. So the key is to think of it as a discussion and not a competition.

I can help out guys who are keen enough and also stay in Bangalore. May be sometime over the weekend, if you can garner about 6-8 people or groups of same, we can have a couple of good GD sessions. Also I am thinking of having topic discussion everyday on the blog itself where people can come in and post their points on a topic. Will put it on the blog once I organize the idea.

So here goes a list of things that you need to take care of
1. Dress well, dress smart, dress easy.

2. Make notes in small points when the topic is told. Be crisp and think all angles.
Note that you may not be able to cover all the points that you had written. Some of them will be discussed by others and some may never come in the flow.

3. You may want to "start" the GD only if you think you can give a good direction. Else dont start for the sake of it and screw up the discussion. If you start please "DO NOT repeat the topic"

4. Put in only those points that add value to the discussion. Do not repeat what others have said just because you also wanted to say that. In short, add fresh points, do not recycle.

5. Do not cut off people when they are speaking. Do not start parallel discussion.
Do not kill people if they have opposite views. Express your disagreement and make your point.

6. Present arguments and not opinions. Statements like "Rajiv gandhi was the best prime minister that India had" will not fetch you anything.

7. Also do not just talk facts, you also have to tell your inferences.

8. Do not argue one-to-one. Remember it is a group discussion and everyone including you has the responsibility of involving the group. One-to-one conversation will lead to negative points to both the guys.

9. Do not take extreme views for the sake of it. Take them only if you believe in it. If you say 'All rapists should be hanged', you should be able to defend it. And trust me it is a strong "opinion" and you have to give deep legal/moral arguments to support the same.

10. Allow others to talk. Do not give a long speech.

11. Do not jump off your chair. Sit calm and relaxed. It is a civilized discussion forum, not parliament house.

12. Be nice to people and they shall be nice to you in return. Understand that the whole group may get selected if you have a meaningful discussion. It may also happen that the whole group may get rejected if you guys start beating up each other.

13. If you are asked to summarize in the end, take your time to think. You need not do it in 2 seconds.

As with the PI tips, these tips will also improve as people respond. I shall be happy to respond to specific queries. As always, the comment section is open.

Also read up
How to handle cases GDs
How to handle a vague topic
How to handle a fish market GD
How to handle topics you have no knowledge on

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    Anonymous Shankar said...

    Realy helpful suggestions...
    please suggest some practical solution to a situation when one is stuck in a chaotic discussion...
    i have heard the whole grup gets eliminated...
    but still if we r stuck in such a scenario can we still make some room for our selection by the panel....

    3:44 AM, January 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    Hey Shankar,

    As I have noted in my article, if the group does not allow each other to speak, they almost get eliminated en-mass.
    Some ideas on finding the shore when you are lost in such a sea
    1. Withdraw from the fight.
    2. Calm down, look cool and think on good points. People are fighting and losing out time on thinking new points. Use the opportunity.
    3. Think on two or three definite points you want to make and make them in between and withdraw. The panel will certainly take a note of this.
    4. Try to garner support with eye-signs of a couple of people in the group who are also feeling that the group is getting too noisy. Usually it is one or two in the group who are the rotten apple.
    5. Help others get in and they will help you in return. E.g., You can say, 'I think Mr Vishal here has been waiting to make a point. Lets here him out before we proceed". People may not listen to you when you want to break in, but will listen to you when you are trying to tell them to listen to someone else. Also remember in a GD, you not only get marks to make points, but also for encouraging a good discussion (which is the final purpose of the GD afterall)
    6. Do not get up from your seat or get flustered.
    7. Leave the rest to the panel.

    Some other points to note
    1. Usually the panel intervenes if it gets too noisy because they dont 'want' to put good candidates in losing situation because a few are fighting it out.
    2. If it continues, the panel may ask a couple of people specifically (especially the ones they feel have not been allowed by the group to make a point) to say 2-3 sentences. You have to be prepared for such a scneario. When such an opportunity strikes, you should not be found thinking or repeating points.
    3. If the whole GD goes bad, the chances are that the panel will ask you for your points in the interview. Be prepared and dont get googlied. Talk crisp, talk sense and do try to kick the group in the butt. You can take a position like "I think that people in group were too eager to prove themselves. Given a less competitive environment, the group was capable of having a more productive discussion"
    4. If in the worst case you think everything got screwed up and the panel did not make any efforts to save your soul and you want to make one last attempt at redemption, talk about it at the end of the interview. Just tell them that you had a couple of points to make in the GD that you couldn't because it was too noisy. Do this only if you think that the situation is desperate.

    Though such GDs are not very common, they are not rare either. I had such an experience in IIMB during our interviews for summer internship. And of course all these people had cleared the CAT GD process :)) I think it was the pressure situation that got them.

    Hope the comments help.

    4:52 AM, January 08, 2007  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very thoughtful of you to help ppl like us....Reading the material out here, certain queries crept up my mind s well...Wot happens in case of a vague topic, say "Pen is Mightier than Sword"...Sud v cite an example and show the cases where this has occurred??
    And even if that being more specific, wot if the topic is "Red or Blue"
    Thanks for ur quick reply

    9:50 PM, January 08, 2007  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    In such a case they are testing your ability to think out of the box, generate ideas and be creative. So the way ahead is to think of as many ideas as possible.

    The guy who starts such a GD should give a broad direction. If he does it successfully, he has beaten half the candidates. But if he screws up, it may not go well with the candidates or the panel

    A couple of examples of how I would have started the GD and also some titbits that I would drop in between to sweep some points

    Blue vs Red
    1. START - The key thought battles in history could be summed as Blue vs Red. Be it Conservatism vs Democrats in the US, be it Slavery vs Anti-slavery, Be it Communism vs democracy or capitalism etc. If one follows English soccer closely, the battles-royale between Chelsea and Arsenal can also be termed as Red vs Blue. Traditionally red is seen as aggressive and firm while blue has stood for sober and flexible. So red vs blue goes beyond the boundary of colours to symbolise something more fundamental among us.
    ---- Note that you have given a broad outline and now the onus is on the other candidates to take each of these points and ponder over.
    2. IN BETWEEN -
    2.1 The group would note that blue and red are two extreme ends of the visual spectrum... but we have to note that there is more to things than the bare eye can see
    2.2 - While i would choose to paint red outside, I would paint my room blue. I think it reflects my personality that I am firm outside and peaceful and flexible inside.
    2.3 - Red and Blue always need not be the opposite ends. Just imagine the beautiful sunset on a calm blue see. It just goes to show that two opposite ends can meet and when they do, the serenity is enchanting.
    ---- If you are able to get this point in when everyone else is talking about blue VERSUS red, then you cracked the GD big time.

    I took about 7-8 minutes to come up with these points. But, note that with the pressure in GD, you may not be able to come up with or make all these points. But even if you are able to make 2-3 notable and distinct points, you have cracked it.

    So now the onus is on you to come up with good points to the other topic that you have said. I shall add on points to it. Get cracking, let your preparation begin here. I shall post more such topics later if there is enough buy-in

    10:57 PM, January 08, 2007  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    That was brilliant of you to come up with something like this...But as a matter of fact I wud not have come up with something like this for sure!!! (due to lack of facts and knowledge)...Can u tell me that in that case, how sud I tackle???

    2:21 AM, January 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    Well, you need to read up well before GD. It equips you with extra armoury.

    But if you get a topic where you think you have absoultely no idea, then you shud wait for others to start. From there you need to pick up threads and make intelligent comments. And in between the discussion, you shud be able to give a different track where you may be comfrotable.

    Now that i think of it, i feel that I should be doing a write up on "how to handle topics you have no idea on". Give me a day and I shall write something on it.

    Just curious, are you the same 'anonymous' as the previous 'anonymous'?

    2:30 AM, January 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    A piece from an other discussion that I did not want to be missed on this discussion thread

    Anonymous had written -
    The issue of the pen v/s the sword could be viewed as the symbolic representation of an educated, tactical approach to acquire something v/s an approach using brute force. An intelligent, negotiating stance is often more fruitful than an aggressive one.

    My response -
    Good beginning. Also make sure you put in more points to handle the middle overs.
    One note, I feel it is better that you dont take a specific stand in the beginning since it is not a clear cut case. unless you strongly feel so.

    Some arguments in favour
    1. Writers are paid more than bouncers (brain over brawn)
    --A very simplistic, but intersting and humorous point

    2. Many journalists have brought down governments while armed rebellions have been less successful
    --You can counter argue saying that when journalists bring down government, it is more because of the mis-deeds of the govt rather than the might of the pen

    3. You can also talk about blogs and books having a greater reach and also having a greater impact on how the society thinks and acts

    1. The Iraq war was inflicted even when the whole world wrote against it. The sword actually proved mightier. So, though the sword proves mightier once in a while, the impact is much more profound

    Parting shot
    2. Pen is mightier only if the swords allows it to be. In simpler terms, the might of pen works only in places where there is a rule of law. And laws are enforced by sword and not pen. As an example, Pen has brought down only democratic governments and not dictators. Dictators finally have to overthrown.
    -- Most people in the GD will talk in favour of pen. Afterall, we are all learned people. But make this point and you shall take away the honours.

    If this idea crops up in your mind after you have supported the pen, you still can change your stance. You can say "now that I think of it...etc etc".

    There are always two sides to an argument. A good GD group will look into both sides and each one who ensures that all angles are covered gets points. And note the group need not arrive at a consensus at the end of the GD.

    11:57 PM, January 09, 2007  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    Atul had posted his comments for "Pen is mightier than the sword"
    The pen signifies the expression of views in a boundary condition, in the limitations of a set of rules which maybe have been set by somebody else. While the sword signifies a denial, a attack on existance of the opposite.

    intermediate points:-
    1) the freedom struggle of most of the countries is a armed one.
    2)Beggers are not choosers.
    3)hindi proverb:- jiski laathi uski bhens.

    My Comments:
    I think you are going a little on the tangent. Try and stick to the pen vs sword points.

    Apart from that, do not use language like 'boundary condition' etc. It is more maths than English.

    Avoid regional proverbs. Because they will need explaination and people may not really appreciate you using up the GD time on that. Think of an alternative english adage or you can make a statement of your own to that effect

    5:11 AM, January 10, 2007  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Very helpful stuff....
    exactly wat i was lookin for...

    tel me...
    wat if in a gd we have a couple of aggressive guys who dont giv others chance to speak...
    n even if i do speak im not able to leav a solid impression cos of those highlighted ones....

    of cors the moderator easily sees our loss in confindence...

    gds seem too scary wen i think of D day....
    kindly help...

    10:24 AM, February 02, 2008  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    The panel can make out between the boisterous noise and the intelligent talk. Trust them for this.

    Stay calm and put in two or three good points. Also confront the hoooligans on their points in a easy confident voice.

    For more, here is a post I did last year.

    In simple words, dont join the shouting gang. You see that Indians lose the match when they start fighting the Australians by their mouth rather than by their cricket :)

    9:07 PM, February 06, 2008  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hey gyanee..

    it was nice to see ur reply though you were busy.. my interview did not go very well but have another one lined up. for gd i have one ques.. what if we are both with and against d topic.. then should we take a stand or using some words like "now i think... " types we can talk abt both..

    incase we get this much chance to speak :))

    10:48 AM, February 13, 2008  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    Hi Rini,

    Dont lose heart. Best of luck for the next interview.

    On your query, You will certainly have points on either side sometimes, but you will not have a stand on both side. You may not have a final stand on an issue, but that is fine.

    And it is not always required to take a stand. The idea of a GD is to discuss and bring out a variety of thought into it.

    But note that you may take a stand even though you have some negative points. E.g., you may say that Vajpayee is very old to be the PM, but he has experience on his side and hence would make a better PM than XYZ. This shows that you have taken a stand inspite of identifying some negative factors.

    In short, the key is the quality of the points you make. And how you support your arguments.
    But never take a stand against your own points.

    7:09 PM, February 13, 2008  
    Blogger Gyan-ee said...

    If you can give me an example where you had both 'for' and against points, I can tell you how to approach.

    An example always speaks clearer than anything else

    7:10 PM, February 13, 2008  
    Blogger ravi said...

    Hi Gyan-ee,
    I'm just 1 day old to this site of urs. And I found it extremely helpful and useful!! Thanks a lotttt !!
    I've a small doubt regd. GD's. U've suggested not to get started on few topics that we have no knowledge on. What if we try to give some points regarding a topic and they are wrong? I mean.. We mite be confident of the points we give thinking they are correct, but in turn, they are not. What would be the situation then? How will the panel react?
    And here I've got 2 cases again:
    1) Suppose we make a wrong point, and other members correct us, what next do we need to do? Won't we feel embarrassed and nervous once we know tht we've stated something wrong !!
    2) Suppose nobody corrects it( prolly they mite be weaker than I'm in that particular topic...Lol), and later as the discussion progresses, we realize that we've made a mistake, wht next? Do we need to correct the previous statement or keep on proceeding, managing somehow until the end of the GD?

    P.S: I'm new here, so I wasn't sure if something regd. this has already been posted in this blog..!!

    Wonderful work! Thx !!

    11:13 PM, May 26, 2008  

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