Conquer Thy Kingdom | How to prepare for Group Discussion & Personal Interview?

 | July 20,2010 04:51 pm IST

For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost - an oft-quoted proverb deduced from a nursery rhyme teaches us that big things can be lost over trivial matters.


When I decided to write the article, I thought of taking the example of this proverb and telling the reader, "Look son! Candidates have got rejected in GD/PI over very small things and you better take care of such things, otherwise you know the consequence.

” But when I read the entire nursery rhyme there was another message. The lyrics of rhyme are set in a very clever way to make the reader apply his own logic to the events and to deduce his own lessons.


“For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost” is just one moral that the reader can draw. What is more important is to understand the entire process how one thing led to another and ultimately to a bigger consequence. It was not simply the want of nail that led to the loss of kingdom. It was a chain of events — one mistake after another — an offshoot of want of a nail. The process of winning and loosing in GD/PI is also like this. One mistake can lead to another and then the next. So it’s important to critically analyse the entire process and see where you can lose or win.


There is no set of rules that can teach you what to and what not to do in GD/PI because it is a process to assess a candidate’s personality, and you cannot apply the same set of rules to every individual. What becomes important in such a scenario is to understand the why and what of GD and arrive at your own rules that fit your personality. Let us know the entire process to arrive at our own set of conclusion.


The First Things First — Why?

B-schools conduct GD/PI when students have already gone through an acid test. Isn’t clearing MBA entrance test enough to show that you are worth it? The simple answer is NO, because B-schools are simply not looking for walking dictionaries or logarithm books. They want candidates who can be trained and polished to be managers. The entrance test is just one stage where they see whether you have basic acumen to understand the course that will be taught during the MBA programme. In that too some parts of personality like ability to take decisions, ability to perform under pressure and analytical and logical thinking are assessed. But in order to get a complete idea of a candidate’s personality, B-schools go through this long process of assessing candidate’s personality.


There can be various ways of assessing an individual’s personality but group discussions and personal interviews are accepted tools to select a student because in a limited time they can give a fair idea to B-schools whether a candidate can become a manager or not. Students may argue that if this is the case, then knowing what B-schools are looking for and presenting yourself accordingly can actually help. Knowing what B-schools are looking for can actually help but not in preparing you for a superficial mask but to help you assess whether you have those traits which B-schools are looking for.


This brings us to other question: are managerial traits natural or can they be acquired? If they are natural, what is the need to do MBA? An MBA course teaches students how to achieve larger goals and it polishes those personality traits. But there are some basic traits that a candidate should have to go through the MBA process and to know that institutes conduct GD/PI.

Group Discussion

A group discussion is generally a 20-to-30 minute process whose larger objective is to select those candidates who have the ability to perform in a team. Apart from this, the kind of topic given also helps panellists to know various traits of a candidate’s personality. In most of the GDs you are made to sit in a semi-circle and discuss a given topic. The topic can be as general as ‘Women make better managers’ or as specific as ‘India-US nuclear deal.’ What matters in group discussion is your stand on the topic, your ability to analyse the given topic, your awareness about the topic, and the way you present the topic. One person from the group is asked to introduce the topic, what follow is the discussion and the conclusion. The focus here is more on leadership and decision making, because in a GD you may or may not reach a consensus because the issues given to you are debatable. The end result of GD will not always be to reach a consensus but to assess your people’s skill.




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Charu on 07/21/10 at 10:36 am

Really interesting!

renbi on 02/09/11 at 07:47 pm