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Beyond GD

Our continuing series turn the focus on handling difficult questions in a PI and acing case-study-centric discussions
Hindustan Times | By Vimal Chander Joshi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2011 09:56 AM IST

As part of the continuing series of workshops organised by HT Horizons and, the latest session went beyond group discussions (GD). A modest gathering of enthusiastic students gained from a knowledge sharing session with two management experts - Dr Sanghamitra Buddhapriya, a professor at Fore School of Management, and Sidhartha Balakrishna, an IIM Calcutta alumnus and a GD/ PI expert.

Dr Buddhapriya shared valuable tips about ‘how to introduce oneself’ in a personal interview. She said, “Emphasise only on the vital characteristics of your personality. Don’t spend a long time explaining things that have already found mention in your resume/ admission form. Your introduction should highlight your achievements, but in a very crisp way.”

While answering a query about the need to mention school marks, she said, “You don’t need to reveal marks scored in Class 10 or 12. Answer such things only when asked. You shouldn’t even speak about your strengths or weaknesses unless asked.”

Looks may be deceptive, as they say, but in a personal interview, appearances matter a lot. “You should give considerable thought to what you wear to the interview. Go in for formals and make sure you look smart. If you haven’t got a haircut in a long time, it’s time to pay a visit to the hairdresser/parlour before the date of interview,” she explained.

While your attire can help you make a good impression on the interview panel, once the quizzing starts, it’s the candidate’s subject knowledge which matters.

They are likely to probe you on any of the subjects you studied in college. “You might be asked about the subject of your interest and when you give one, don’t be surprised if the next round of questions is about that subject,” Buddhapriya said.

When you don’t know the answer to a question, do attempt to answer it instead of giving up right away. Avoid saying “I don’t know”.

Balakrishna emphasised on displaying the right attitude in a GD. “Certain B-schools make you solve a case study and that requires a different approach altogether. You need to reach a consensus and solve problems, unlike in a group discussion (when you only give your point of view on the basis of your knowledge),” he said.

Balakrishna had a four-step solution to any problem in a case study. First, find the cause of the problem. Second, find alternative solutions, such as reducing the price of a product, supplementing the product with additional features and announcing schemes, etc. “Suggesting only one solution doesn’t display your analytical skills,” Balakrishna suggested.
The third stage involves weighing the pros and cons of your alternatives. Giving a suggestion is not difficult, but you must have an understanding of the solution by deliberating the pros and cons.

Finally, give recommendations, both short term and long term on the basis of brainstorming with the group.

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