After you finish giving your XAT, CAT, SNAP, NMAT, CMAT, MICAT, TISSNET and other entrance tests, the next thing you need to do is prepare for Group Discussions (GD) and Personal Interviews (PI). GD and PI are important because your performance in these two rounds are the ultimate deciding factors that can make or break your MBA dream. Hence, preparing for GD/PI is as important as preparing for entrance exams. But, all top business colleges have their own way of conducting GD and PI. How can one keep up with all of that? The truth is you can’t! However, there are few things that you should NEVER do in a GD/PI round unless you want to get disqualified and give up on your dream. In this article, you can expect some obvious and not so obvious “Don’ts” you need to be aware of while preparing for group discussions and personal interviews. Read this article to know more.
A group discussion or GD is a form of discussion that happens in a group. It is one of the many ways a candidate is evaluated for getting admission in management institutes or selection for placement interviews. GD is usually held to identify certain traits a company or institute will like their employees or students to have. Some of these traits are:
- Goal Orientation
If you want to do well in GD then following are the things that you shouldn’t do -
Initiating discussions without any proper knowledge of the subject
Starting discussions are good as you are able to grab the immediate attention of the evaluators. However, starting a discussion by providing irrelevant details just for the sake of talking is a big turn-off. Initiate the discussion only if you know the topic well. In case you don't know the topic well then wait for others, get a feel of the subject and then enter the discussion.
Making strong statements
Strong statements or one-sided views that lack factual support is a big DON’T in GDs. While the temptation is understandable because sweeping statements sound good. However, an assertion without legit and/or logical reasoning will do you more harm than good. Think about the point you are going to make, and then offer it for before you offer it for discussion.
Providing time-consuming details
Your time in a GD is limited. Therefore, it is very important that your arguments are crisp and smartly articulated. Give a basic subject analysis. You don’t need to mention exact numbers and stats while making a reference.
Don’t get aggressive and interrupt others
You should never get aggressive in GD or lose your cool. In a GD you are having discussions with more than 5 to 6 people at a time. Each one of them come from a different background and have a different perspective about life. So, it is obvious that there may be some disagreements. Shouting at others, getting aggressive, interrupting others and speaking over someone else will not do you any good. In fact, they all count as negative traits. Remember, it is a discussion, not a debate. Listen carefully to the others and then speak politely, clearly, without getting irritated.
Many people have a habit of looking at one person or the evaluator while talking. This is a big no-no. GD means many-on-many discussion, not one-on-one, so communicate with all the members of the group and not just one.
One of the many traits that are evaluated in a GD is self-confidence. Therefore, be confident and speak confidently, even if you have little or no knowledge on the subject of discussion. The best thing to do in this kind of situation, listening to others and then putting across your thoughts in a clear and audible voice while maintaining eye contact.
Slang and negative gestures
Group Discussion is a formal type of discussion. So, avoid using informal words and doing negative gestures. For eg - don’t use words like yup, nope, gonna, wanna, y'all etc. Similarly avoid gestures like pointing fingers, slouching on your chair, tapping your legs or fidgeting with your pen, etc.
Personal Interview or PI is the final round, based on which you are either offered admission to b-school or any job. A personal interview may vary in shape, duration and the type of questions based on the nature of the PI round.
The PI round tests your -
- Verbal communication skills
- Presence of mind
- The way you present your views
- Convincing power
If you want to do well in PI then following are the things that you shouldn’t do -
No eye contact with the interviewer
To an interviewer, lack of eye contact means lack of confidence or hiding something. Always maintain eye contact with your interviewers. This demonstrates confidence and makes the interviewer think that you are engaged in the conversation, and care about what they are saying. (But don’t overdo it, as you may come out as creepy :P )
Not answering the questions you are asked
Interviewers are expert of their field, so they will know if you're evading a question. This also includes going off-topic. If you try to avoid answering questions, the impression they will get from you is either you don't care or have something to hide.
Interrupting the interviewer
Interrupting an interviewer while he/she is speaking can be seen as a sign of impatience. The best practice would be to wait for your chance to state your points in a calm and composed manner.
Not being yourself.
If you try to lie or exaggerate facts it will come back to bite you later. Most interviewers who will be taking your interview have a lot of experience in evaluating and observing MBA applicants. This means by now, they have a built-in lie detector that alerts them of the phoniness.
TMI (Too Much Information)
Yes, you are a knowledgeable person, but that does not mean you need to show off by giving too much information. Talking too much or giving too much information about something can also be seen as trying to dominate the interview. Long answers with too much info could bore the interviewer and they might tune out to what you're saying. Respect the interviewer's time. Incase, the interviewer needs more information than they will ask for it.
Losing your calm
MBA interviews are a stressful process and you should know a way to navigate your emotions. Hence, you cannot have a breakdown in front of the interviewer. Crying indicates that you don't have the strength and maturity it takes to survive an MBA program.
Hope these tips help you prepare for the group discussion and interview. All the best!