Practical help for GD/PI
Experts mentor participants at a workshop on skills for personal interviews and group discussions reports Garima Upadhyay
Guru gyaan coupled with enthusiastic, eager participants made HT Horizons’ Mission MBA GD/PI workshop a very fruitful exercise for aspirants. Organised in association with mbauniverse.com, the workshop was conducted by Sidharth Balakrishna, author, GD/PI expert and IIM Calcutta alumnus, and Prof Avinash Singh, director general, Institute of Management & Research.
Spread across various sessions, the workshop offered theoretical advice as well as practical simulations to help students understand the intricacies of a GD/PI session. The simulations, in the form of mock GDs, presented students with first-hand experience of a GD, while the theory sessions provided insights into the expected code of conduct during a GD.
“A group discussion is a do-or-die situation for a candidate. Your performance in the GD/PI decides if you make it or not, so it is very important to highlight your achievements,” said Balakrishna. “Knowledge is essential but having the confidence to share it is required. Don’t just sit on the fence as a mute spectator. Be sure to make your point if it is substantial. Feel free to interrupt, add, disagree or second (another’s) views while the discussion is on,” he added.
Besides being advised on what to say, students were also counselled on how to say it. “Your tone and choice of words should not be belligerent. For instance, if you don’t agree with a certain view, refrain from saying ‘you are wrong’. Instead, say ‘you should check your facts’ or ‘your data doesn’t correspond with mine’. Similarly, if you want to interrupt someone, do it while they are ending the talk,” advised Balakrishna.
Beyond choosing the right words, aspirants also learnt about the importance of body language during a GD/PI session. “One’s body language during a group discussion and personal interview helps the panel make a decision about your selection. Simple things like maintaining eye contact with all members of the group, restricting hand movements, not letting nervousness show and being your natural self can help you make the final cut,” pointed out Balakrishna.
By engaging participants in various exercises, Prof Singh revealed the underlying premise for a GD/PI. One of the exercises that elicited interesting responses from participants was a case study of an employee who leaves her 15-year-old job for one that pays well but is neither personally nor professionally satisfying. Prof Singh asked students to present their views on the options available to her to regain her peace of mind.
Later, elaborating on the purpose of the exercise, he said, “These case studies help students go beyond the usual. It is these unusual answers that we seek while interviewing candidates. Out-of-the-box thinking, confidence, knowledge, general awareness, leadership, creativity and communication skills are some factors that determine whether you make it or not. Clarity of thought along with fast and creative thinking can take you places and leave an indelible mark on the panel.”
While both mentors agreed that confidence is the quintessential element required to ace a GD, Prof Singh went on to say, “The secret mantra for cracking the session is hitting the nail right on the head. Reply directly to the point raised and don’t digress from the topic of discussion. A judicious, systematic, meticulous approach will help you bell the cat.”
Similar sessions will be conducted on February 26, March 12 and March 26, 2011. For details check www.mbauniverse.com/events/ht/HT2010/gd_pi.html
DOs & DON’Ts
. Try to initiate the discussion but be sure to structure your approach well
. Be confident
. Highlight your knowledge about the topic or situation
. Refrain from stating opinions; instead, substantiate your statements with facts
. Don’t beat about the bush; be articulate
. Be a team player; let others speak
. Show leadership by carrying forward the discussion
. Don’t appear provocative, have patience
. Ability to think fast helps
. Read newspapers regularly
. Go through relevant weeklies, magazines and year books
. Keep a track of the latest developments across the country
. Brush up your analytical skills
. Organise mock group discussions with friends/peers
. Speak on one topic every day
. Stand in front of a mirror and observe yourself while you speak