How To Prepare For Group Discussions - Saurabh Bhuwania, FMS Delhi


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    Saurabh Bhuwania is pursuing his MBA from FMS. He is a Chartered Accountant and has worked with KPMG and PwC. He nurtures a superfluous passion for cricket and his blog can be read here

    There are certain myths associated with every preparation. And if there is a myth, there must be an iota of rationale behind it. Myths cannot be out rightly rejected. However, it cannot be completely relied on either. Here are some points one should keep in mind before a Group Discussion.

    Speaking first is an advantage but not always:

    Each of us seems desperate to initiate a Group Discussion but it’s better to be mum if the statement does not seem strong enough. Many a times, desperation to initiate misleads a GD in wrong direction and can piss the interviewer off completely. And, use Quotes to being if they seem fitted, not for namesake.

    Current Topics:

    B-Schools have a tradition to shoot current topics in Group Discussions and hence having some good points about the topic puts a candidate in advantageous situation. One should be thorough with the current affairs and nothing can help more than newspapers.

    Speaking less is not necessarily a sin:

    I have seen many a times that the candidates who managed to speak only once got shortlisted for interview. If the only statement has substance and is spoken with reasonable confidence, one can put money on fate.

    Randomness:

    Undoubtedly, a yes. GDs are random to some extent and the ones having got ‘the gift of the gab’ have a clear advantage over the rests. But, this must not demoralise the ones who lack a bit of oratory skills. It can be made up for with strong points spoken with conviction.

    High pitch and voice modulation:

    High pitch can be helpful but if overdone, it hurts. So, one should clearly know the demarcation between being clearly audible and being loud.

    Numbers advantage:

    Numbers are undoubtedly a big advantage but again one should be very confident about the correctness before using them. A penny here and there is fine but a strong deviation can act pretty against you. Numbers regarding the economics of the nation can be pretty handful and can be used in a GD as an impressive tool. However, these should be used only when relevant and related. Number should always be succeeded by relevance of the same.

    Vocabulary:

    A GD is most impressive when done in lucid language. Pompous words can be differentiating when used intelligently. However, a discussion never needed a Shakespeare English. Distinguishingly relevant words, however, do make a mark as they ring the eardrums of the ones who are in charge of GD.

    Listener:

    A Group Discussion is equally about listening as much as speaking. One should be attentive of other speakers to the best of potential as it shows that one is concerned and respectful about the opinion of the rests.

    Body language:

    The most neglected and unfortunately the most important aspect of a Group Discussion is body language. Sitting posture, gestures while speaking, hand movements, eye contact and other non-verbal stuffs hold immense significance in a GD and hence should be taken care of.

    Interrupting ladies is not a crime:

    All are there to compete and if putting your point forward means interrupting a lady, GO AHEAD. Courtesy and competition does not go hand in hand and you might end up getting the shortlist for ‘Gentleman of the year’ instead of an interview shortlist if you bother too much about interrupting ladies. So, maximise your chances by putting your best points forward.

    Summarise:

    Summarising is always very impactful and hence try to be the one who ends up summarising the GD. Again, it’s not a norm that one should summarise but yes; go grab the chance if you can.

    No of entries: .

    It’s not always about maximising the no of entries one make in a Group Discussion. It’s good to be a good listener as well and give others a chance if you feel you have spoken enough. Try and avoid redundancy by speaking the same point in a different way; the ones judging you are good enough to notice this.

    Try not to be dogmatic:

    Stern belief in certain dogmas gives an impression of being rigid. So, it’s always good to be flexible and discuss pros and cons instead of just sticking to one aspect.

    Appreciate while criticising:

    If you don’t agree to someone’s point, it’s not seen in a good light to directly get critical of his/her opinion. The best way is to appreciate before you show your disagreement: ‘I appreciate the opinion of my dear friend but I would like to differ here...’ is one of the best ways to proceed.

    No looking at the interviewer:

    At times, we try to read faces of the Group Discussion convener so as to impress them or gauge our impression on them. Don’t do this: Greet them while you enter and exit and that’s all.

    Remembering names:

    If the name plates are there, it’s impressive to call someone by name instead of just he/she. It shows the kind of professionalism that they expect out of the aspirants.

    These are the few things an aspirant must take care of before going for a GD. There is no substitute for a well-done preparation. The above-said things are just the other aspects which will act merely as catalyst in deciding the candidature. However, a B-school GD is very tricky and it’s good to not miss anything. A selection ratio of 1:4 or 1:4.5 is a tough nut to crack and preparation can only help one’s cause.

    FMS Way:

    The two best things with an FMS GD and Interview are:

    • You get to know your results just a day after the last day of interview conducted by FMS.
    • You get to know the exact bifurcation of the marks you obtained in GD, Extempore and Interview.

    FMS has a one of the most transparent ways of selecting a candidate. 70% weightage is given to CAT score and the rest 30% to GD, Extempore and Interview. Extempore is actually a part of Interview where in the start, middle or end of the interview, you will be given a random topic to speak for 1 or 2 minutes. The topic might be contemporary, abstract or anything under the sun. E.g., my topic was to speak for 2 minutes on ‘Red Chair’. So, 20 out of 30 are taken care of in an interview and a good extempore can be saviour for many souls. In fact, one can even make up for a poor GD in the interview. Many a times, the interviewers have been gracious enough to ask about not having spoken much in GD and if one can come up with a justified reason followed by some good points about GD topic, it might reverse the bad GD score.

    No past academic sins, gender or academic diversity comes into play when it comes for selection. So, the game is pretty fair in FMS and surprisingly, FMS has been able to maintain the diversities pretty well even by not allotting grace marks for them. CAT score weightage is certainly a bit more and it might give an impression that the ones having a higher CAT percentile might end up getting there easily. However, the case is not so. CAT scores do not differ as much the CAT percentile makes it look like. If 283 is 99.0 percentile and 300 is 99.6 percentile, the difference in their FMS score is merely {(300-283)*70}/450 and this difference can be easily done away with a good performance in the rest 30 marks. I have seen many ones with their percentiles in late 99’s not making the list while the ones who were on the borderline of the shortlists made it to the red building of the dreams.

    So, get ready for the next level as the CAT administrators will announce the things on XXth January and one can count upon their chances for an FMS call if the scores are 98.5+. This should be treated as a cut-off though. Historically, the cut-off in 2012 has declined from 98.56 to 98.84 and it has been only two years since FMS started taking admissions based on CAT. So, there is very less historical data to predict the FMS cut-off.

    A big tip: Use various online forums as an information repository instead of doing permutations and combinations. Analysis of so many possibilities will drive you crazy and instead of reading others’ opinion. It’s always a better alternative to read a weekly magazine to prepare yourself. Look, People love to preach and give opinions but what matters is substance in the opinion. Don’t ponder about chances; rather do stuff to enhance them. All the best guys.

    I often try to be an idealist by removing my FB account, but the temptation brings me back. So, reach me there if you need.


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