Unit 8

Group Discussion

What is Group Discussion?

A group discussion tests the teamwork and communication skills of candidates. A group discussion involves a discussion on a given topic with other candidates, usually with similar experience and educational qualifications. Performing well in a group discussion helps you to get noticed and practicing for one improves your public speaking skills.

A group discussion typically forms a part of the selection process used by organisations and educational institutions. The candidates talk about the given topic to present facts, opinions and conclusions. Employers use this technique to screen candidates and assess their soft skills.

In a typical group discussion activity, the panelists or moderators will introduce themselves and give you instructions about the process. The group will then get about 10-15 minutes to think and prepare about the subject and approximately 30 minutes to discuss it. The time limits can vary from process to process. Panelists use an evaluation sheet for rating the performance of the candidates based on a predetermined marking rubric.

Importance of Group Discussion

Group discussions are important because they help the evaluator:

  • To judge whether the candidate is fit for the job

  • To test whether the candidate is a good team player

  • To assess the candidate's communication skills

  • To check whether the candidate is comfortable speaking spontaneously on any subject

  • To gauge the candidate's diction and pronunciation

  • To evaluate the body language and posture along with general composition and maturity

How to be successful in a Group Discussion?

Prepare for different topics

Apart from your own academic qualifications, you should also possess general knowledge. Try to keep track of some common trending topics. Check on current national and international events by reading newspapers regularly. You can also try checking social media, discussing your area of expertise with friends and referring to journals and articles from the library. Make sure you research published papers thoroughly and validate the findings.

Practice public speaking

Check for live or recorded group discussions online and observe how influential people conduct themselves. If you have enrolled in any career classes, try to take part in mock group discussions actively. This will allow you to improve your confidence. Try to rehearse your appearance, speech and presentation in front of the mirror. It works great because you can be a more sincere critic of yourself than someone else.

Work on your body language

Be comfortable and pleasant in your demeanour. Avoid artificial gestures or quirky movements, unnecessary hand expressions and pointing fingers. Moving hands to stress your point, waving your arms in the air, scrubbing your nose or looking at the ceiling to disagree show odd manners. When you are talking with someone, try to look straight into the listener's eyes to convey your thoughts more effectively.

Be a good listener

If another candidate is speaking, listen carefully and ask questions to ease the topic's flow. If you need to contradict someone's viewpoint, ask politely. For example, "Your point is valid, but I wish to add some of my own observations." If you listen to their speech carefully, you can strike out their points and stress your opinion more effectively. Remember that other candidates also come prepared and try to lead the group.

Intervene without leaving a bad impression

If you want to interrupt someone, you should have a specific purpose. Wait for the proper time, be polite and speak in a formal tone. You can say, "Thank you for allowing me to speak," and stress your opinion with "Let me add my points," "Your point is valid but ..." or "We can also see this from another angle" sentences. Try to avoid openly disagreeing with other candidates.

Complement the agreeable points

You can support points with merit using sentences such as, "Yes, I also think we can approach this problem differently." Such actions will leave a positive impact on your quality as a team member. This approach is helpful because panel members also observe candidates' teamwork, their manner of response to differing opinions and general courtesy.

Face crucial moments

Sometimes, you may have to take a back foot when someone with a valid objection supersedes you. Or, a candidate may interrupt and try to talk over you. You should address that person calmly, ask them to cease the interruption and carry on speaking. The group supervisor will notice your calmness and maturity.

Practice summarisation and conclusion

At the end of a group discussion, you may have to provide some conclusion. Try to summarise the points and provide a valid outcome or a judgement for the best results.

Thanks to

Group Discussion Topics

  • How good is your communication skill

  • How confident you are in interacting with the other group members

  • How open-minded you are in acknowledging diverse points of views

  • How flexible or rigid you are in having an opinionated discussion

  • Your leadership skills

  • Your analytical abilities

  • Problem-solving skills and critical thinking

  • Time management skills

  • Your skills at making an objective decision

  • Social behaviour and common courtesy