Group Discussion is an important tool in the selection process. It is mostly used for selecting candidates for management posts. Here, the candidates are divided into small groups. Each group contains six to eight candidates. Each group is given a topic for discussion. They are also given a time limit for discussing this topic. The topic may be a general or current topic. For e.g. "Leaders are born, not made". Each participant has to give his or her views about this topic. The selectors observe the full discussion. After the time limit is over, the best candidate from the group is selected. The same process is followed for other groups.
Group discussion is mostly unstructured. That is, every single step is not planned in advance. Each candidate is not given a time limit for speaking. Similarly, the order of speaking, that is, who will speak first and who will speak last is not fixed in advance. The candidates have to decide how to conduct the group discussion. The selectors see how the group takes shape, and who contributes most to it. They also judge the knowledge of each candidate, time management, leadership quality, behaviour, etc.
Why are Group Discussions used as a part of the selection process?
Nowadays, be it any stream or field, interaction skills are highly valued. By means of group discussions recruiters judge candidates capabilities in and out. Group discussions have become an integral step of evaluation for process of recruitment and admissions. These discussions are aimed at appraising various aspects of personality like confidence, communication skill, patience, etc. At the same time Group discussions are also important to evaluate one’s command on the given topic.
Group Discussions measure certain attributes of the candidates that are otherwise difficult to identify and time consuming to assess. A number of people who can communicate their ideas well and discuss effectively with others in a one-to-one situation become tongue-tied in a group situation. They will just not be able to present their ideas or discuss their ideas with the other members of the group. A Group Discussion will identify people who have such group communication skills and people who do not possess such group communication skills.
In today's context, the organizations are interested in team players rather than individual contributors. During the Group Discussion, the panel essentially evaluates the candidate's potential to be a leader and also his/her ability to work in teams. Most organizations today are very clear about the skills and knowledge that they look for in a candidate while screening. This was not the case a couple of years ago. Group Discussion has been a part of the Selection process for admission into most of the top Business Schools Earlier, some of the Pharmaceutical Companies like Ranbaxy, Glaxo, Cipla, Lupin, etc used to conduct Group Discussions as a part of their Screening Process for Selection of candidates as Medical Representatives. Most of the other companies also used to conduct GD while selecting candidates for marketing related Posts. Today, almost every company, (including TCS, SATYAM, WIPRO, INFOSYS, INFOTECH, ORACLE, CTS, CANBAY, POLARIS, etc) both IT and non-IT has GD as part of their Selection Process.
The skills that are usually assessed in a Group Discussion are:
• Communication Skills
• Interpersonal Skills
• Leadership Skills
• Motivational Skills
• Team Building Skills
• Tolerance to Ambiguity
• Divergent Thinking
• Listening skills
• Presentation Skills
• Analytical / Logical skills,
So, it's important to assess candidate’s current strengths in all these areas and accordingly put efforts to strengthen their weaknesses.