DOUBTS THAT STUDENTS HAVE AND THEIR ANSWERS
1. Are we allowed to
carry a piece of paper during the G.D. for noting down
some important points?
Ans.- Normally you are
allowed to carry a pieces of paper, but there might be
some instance where you are specifically forbidden to.
Is there any particular
seating arrangement, which is favorable to the
Ans- If participants are
asked to sit in a circle or a semicircle, one position
is as good as any other. But if you are asked to sit
on either side of a rectangular table, then try to
chosen a position as close to the center as possible.
Should we begin the G.D. by
appointing a leader amongst ourselves?
No, you should not. Leadership in a G.D is established
implicity through one' s performance in the GD.
Should we distribute the
total time available to all the participants to ensure
those everyday gets a chance to speak?
Ans- Since a G.D is not
like a debate or elocution, the participants should
not resort to he strategy of distributing time amongst
Can we take a definite stand
right away and them later on during the G.D switch
over to the other side of the argument?
Ans- Yes, provided you do
it in the right way. In a G.D it is quite likely that
some other participant’s counter-argument convinces
you to your point. If this happens, then it is best if
you accept his argument and explain to the group how
your previous argument was true within a narrow range,
and how the new argument is applicable to a broader
range. Naturally, it is safer not to make any rash
statements for or against the topic before you learn
the facts of the arguments. Blindly taking a stand
will definitely lead you into trouble. This does not
mean that you should sit on the fence. You may
participate actively by pointing out issue on both
sides of the argument in a reasonable and logical
If we do not understand the
meaning of the topic, should we ask the moderator to
explain it to us?
Ans - No, You cannot ask
the moderator the meaning of the topic. Instead of
displaying your ignorance in this manner, it is better
to wait for some other participant to explain the
meaning of the topic. So listen to the discussion
carefully for the first three or four minutes, and
when you have gained some idea about the topic,
participate in the discussions.
Should we address the other
participants by their names or by their assigned
Ans - As far as possible,
you should avoid the use of names or numbers. It is
better to use pronouns such as 'he', ‘she’, 'you',
etc, while referring to the other members of your
Are we expected to stick to
the normally accepted line of thought or can we come
up with something radical?
Ans-In a G.D, your
creativity in thinking is very important. This means
that you are supposed to come up with ideas and
convince the group about the workability of your idea.
There is no defined norm about ideas, other than that;
they should be relevant to the topic.
feel strongly about an issue, should I voice my
Ans - There
are many topics, which you may feel deeply about.
However, it is important to be cool and emotionally
stable during a G.D If you let yourself get involved
at a personal level with the topic, or react
emotionally o statements of other participants, you
are likely to lose control over yourself during the
G.D Remember that while it is important to say what
you feel, it is equally important to be able to speak
in a calm and logical manner.
use technical terms or jargon, which is clear to me,
but not to the group?
Ans- If you have to use
technical terms, then please do not use abbreviations.
After mentioning the term in full, take time off to
explain to the group what it means. It is quite likely
that the members of your group have a different
academic background and are not conversant with the
jargon that you use.
Do I begin my participation
by requesting the group's permission to do so?
Ans- At times when the
group is very orderly, you could start off by asking
permission to present your case. But when the G.D is
noisy (which is usually the case), do not waste times
in formalities. First, nobody will be willing to give
you a chance and second, it could also go against you
(as lack of initiative on your part).
Which is the right time to
enter a G.D to ensure that I am heard properly?
Ans-In any G.D, there are
crests and troughs during the discussion. At a crest,
the noise level is the maximum and at a trough there
is almost total silence. Ideally, you should enter the
G.D during the trough period. But normally in
competitive Gds., the crests occur more often and for
more prolonged periods. Troughs, if they do come, last
for very little time, In such cases, you could
identify those stages in the G.D where ideas
dear/familiar to you are being discussed and enter the
G.D irrespective of the noise level. The logic here is
that you might never be able to identify a trough and
even after identifying, might never be able to enter
effectively then. Since being silent is not of much
help, perhaps by participating at a noisy stages, you
might gain some points at least.
How do I participate when the
noise level is too high?
Ans- As explained above,
if the noise level is high you have two options-remain
silent, or join in by raising your voice to be heard
above the din. At times it is not possible to speak
loudly because of the nature of voice. At such times,
identify the most powerful speaker in the group and
note down the point he/she is making. The moments the
noise level lessons even a little enter by supporting
the most powerful speaker. You will have made a strong
ally who will ally who will aid you and pull you
through noisy situations.
Do I have to be cautious
about other participants' feeling (on sensitive issues
like religion, caste, etc.)?
Ans-Yes, you must.
Running down others by arguing on religious practices
and caste differences displays your viciousness and
lack of maturity. Remember that you will end up
sounding like an irrational and biased person. This is
also true for touchy topics such as abortion, sexual
discriminations, euthanasia etc.
Is it beneficial to be the
first speaker in a group discussion?
Ans-If you can make a
positive and confident start by speaking for at least
20-30 seconds at a stretch, then it would be
advantageous. This is because the first speaker is
normally expected to provide direction to the G.D If
the job is property done, then the first speaker
automatically becomes the leader of the group and
his/her opening idea remains alive throughout the G.D
How critical is fluency in
English to my performance in the G.D?
Ans-Command over the
language and good grammar definitely aids you in
enhancing your performance. A lack of ideas may be
partly covered up by your skills in speaking, but not
fully. If you are not fluent, or if you have to
struggle to express your thoughts, you need to present
very strong ideas to attract attention. Knowledge
rather than speech become your mainstay. If you are
able to communicate with the group by some means or
the other, than fluency is not critical.
How necessary is it to use
examples for illustrating an idea?
Ans-Please remember that
examples by themselves do not prove anything. The use
of example is helpful in elaborating your point,
because people are able to understand your better.
They associate better with your example than with your
How much and for how long
should I participants?
Ans-In a 20 minute G.D
with 12-15 participants, you should participate at
least 4 times with each entry lasting for at least
20-25 seconds. You could participate more depending
upon your comfort level and the need for
How important is the use of
body language in a G.D?
Ans-Use of proper body
language is an advantage. Some of the ways in which
you could use your body effectively are:
-Have significant eye contact. Look at the G.D members
when you speak to them. Keep moving your eyes all
around so that you focus on the whole group and not on
-Keep your body upright, and lean forward while
speaking or listening. This will show your sustained
interest in the G.D
- If you agree with somebody, nod your head, so that
the speaker realises that your understand him.
- Use your hands effectively to emphasis your
statements and to persuade others to listen to you do
not gesture wildly, but use your hands as a means of
- Do not place you hand in front of your mouth while
speaking. It inhibits speech and shows
- Do not use your arm to support your chin. It
communicates a lack of interest in the G.D - Do not
point your finger or pen at a person aggressively.
These are intimidator tactics and will be a recognised
Keep your hands on the table when you are not using
them to emphasis you points. If you tend to keep your
hands moving then you might end up distracting others?
- Do not sit cross-legged during a discussions. A
cross-legged position is for relaxation and not good
for competitive situations.
Is it good to be humorous in
Ans- In a relaxed type of
G.D, which is not very competitive, humor is
acceptable. But in a competitive G.D, your attempts at
humor may fall flat. Other members of the G.D are
likely to be tense, or thinking seriously about what
to speak, and will be in mood to laugh.
Is it necessary to make an
Ans- An interim summary
is a way of directing the group mid-way through the
G.D It helps the group pick out and focus on the most
important points and thus use the remaining time
effectively. However, it is not always necessary to
make an interim summary, especially when the
discussion already is well focused.
What do I do if someone else
has already said that I wanted to say?
have two choices:
- Agree with the point made by your colleague and add
on to it by displaying the applicability of the
argument to different situations. By doing this you
will have broadened the scope of the argument.
- Drop the point and think of something new to say.
If possible try to avoid this situation by speaking in
the first 4-5 minutes of the G.D, when new points are
being introduced. If you wait a long time to speak,
someone else would most probably have covered ‘your
Is the use of slang/colloquialism permitted?
Ans- Generally not. For
two reasons-first that it is bad English, and second,
that other members of the group may not understand it.
Can I use a language other than
English at any time to drive home my point?
Ans- No, You will have to
stick on English.
How is aggression measured
and judged in a G.D?
Ans-The moment people
start reacting to your negatively and strongly, you
may take it that you are being too aggressive. The
degree of reaction is the measure of your
What level of aggression is
Ans-There is a very thin
line separating aggression and assertiveness. You
should be aggressive enough to sound assertive, but
aggression in excess of this will make you sound
stubborn and inciter.
Is it true that the person
who speaks the most in a G.D is bound to be the most
Ans- This is a myth.
Generally, a person who has sound knowledge about the
topic and is clear thinker tends to speak more. This
leads students to wrongly believe that success is
directly proportional to the amount you speak. Just
speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you
Will I be quizzed in my interview about my
participation in the G.D?
Ans- If the interview
immediately follows the G.D, then this is likely to
happen. You may be asked to rate the performance of
all members in the G.D, or to state your opinion on
the topic etc.
Is it true that the G.D is used more as an elimination
technique than as a selection tool?
Ans-In institute other
than the IIMs, during the preliminary stages of
selections, the G.D is uses as an elimination
technique. In the final stages of the selection
process, it is used to actively select, rather than to
discard. This is because most of the elimination has
been done at the earlier stage already. At the IIMs,
since there are no such stages, the G.D is used to
select and not to eliminate.
What is the level of accuracy
desired in the facts and figures that you quote in a
Ans-An error margin
of 5% on the higher/lower side is permitted.
motivating other persons in a group to participate
looked upon favorably?
you try to motivate people by openly requesting them
to speak then it might not be acceptable. You might be
forcing someone to talk at the expense of the other
members of the group. Also, the person who you are
helping may not really want to speak at that point. It
is therefore better to use other methods of
motivation, These including agreeing with halting
speakers, adding on to their points, implicate
supporting them and giving them direction, etc.
Does the moderator have any
biases or preconceived notions about the topic?
Ans- Ideally the moderate
is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. But being a
human being, the moderator may not be totally free
from bias. The moderator may feel strongly about a
topic and your views could differ from his. If you are
good participants, this will not seriously affect your
chances of getting selected.
Can we expect the moderator
to stop or cut short the G.D much before the
stipulated time is over?
Ans-At times if the G.D
becomes chaotic, or the level of discussion
deteriorates abysmally, the moderator might cut short
Can I be aggressive with lady
rude in a G.D (to any member) is downright
unacceptable. But being aggressive (within acceptable
limits) is entirely OK, with both male and female
members of the groups. A G.D is not place for
Is it OK to ask pointed
questions of the group members?
Ans- While you may ask
for some clarifications from others members during a
G.D, remember that you should not play the Devil’s
advocate. Some participants question regularly the
statements of the group members (with the aim of
proving them wrong) and are difficult to convince. By
playing the Devil’s Advocate such a participant
obstructs the smooth flow of the G.D and does not
allows the topic to progress. The pointed questions
that he/she asks unsettle the other members, and the
quality of the G.D deteriorates. The moderator would
hold such a tedious inquisitor responsible for this,
and would judge him/her badly.
Is it necessary that the
group should arrive at a conclusion in the stipulated
Ans- In the ideal case,
the group is expected to reach a conclusion. Normally
the time constraint does not allow the group to do so.
Where not all points have been discussed, and there is
need for further discussion, the group may continue if
it wishes, without a conclusion or a consensus.
Is an end-summary absolutely essential?
If the group has not reached any conclusion then it
would be good if somebody puts the whole discussion in
perspective by summarizing. But if there is not enough
time, a summary may be avoided.
How are listening skills
evaluated in a G.D?
Ans- A participant
displays his/her listening skills by doing any of the
-Reaching time and again to arguments presented by the
-Recollecting tie ideas and summarizing at different
points in the G.D
-Connecting the various arguments presented at come up
with something more meaningful -Constantly looking at
the person who is speaking and not looking
the head in agreements or disagreement with ideas
presented during the G.D
Do we have to write a
synopsis of the G.D once it is over?
insist on this; but it is not universal.
40. Is voting an acceptable method of
reaching a consensus?
Ans- No, As far as
possible, try to avoid this.
What is the acceptable
performance level of a G.D?
Ans- The scoring in a G.D
is relative. Generally, participants are marked on a
scale of 0-10 with weight ages assigned for individual
elements. If the consolidated score for the best
participants in the G.D is very high, the other
participants will be judged against this score.
Normally a cut-off score is established and all those
who score above this are selected. If the level of a
G.D is very low, and the highest score is below the
cut-off, then all members of the G.D are rejected.
How should a group select a
topic if asked to?
Ans-The group should
brainstorm for about two minutes and narrow down the
list of topics to about 3 or 4. After his the group
should prioritize them based on the comfort level and
ease of discussion of the topics. Asking each
participant to rank the 4 topics could do this, and
the most popular choice should be taken.
What is the normal duration
Ans-About 20-25 minutes
at the IIMs.
How many students are usually
clubbed in one group discussion?
Ans-The number varies
between 10 & 15
How many panel members will be there?
Ans- Normally 2 or 3
How appropriate is it to act
a co-ordinator in a G.D?
Ans-The role of a co-ordinator
is usually played by a person who is senior in rank or
designation to the other members, In a company Board
meeting for example, the Chairman or CEO co-ordinates.
In a G.D, since all the participants are to be treated
as equal in rank, playing the coordinator is not
Are the topics decided on the
basis of the academic background of the participant?
Ans-No. Topics are
usually general in nature. They may be based on some
current event or some issue of general interest.
What do I do if one member is
Ans-You could use any one
of the following methods: Ignore him and address other
members of the group. Be assertive with him and
collectively tell him that his argument is faulty
Point out to him that his point is well taken and the
group must progress further by discussing the ideas
being presented by others.
are the acceptable ways of interrupting somebody else,
so that I may make my point?
Ans- You can interrupt in
any of the following ways: By saying “Excuse me, but
I feel that what you are saying is not totally
true...” By raising your voice and making the other
participants clam up halfway through By saying “
Yes, I agree with your idea, and I would like to add
on it.......” By asking for some clarification from
the speaker on the point which he is making at that
moment. 50. Can my G.D performances be improved
through training? Yes, G.D performances can be
improved by training oneself in the following areas:
Creative Thinking Fluent Communication Proper
Presentation Personal and Inter-personal Dynamics.