New Delhi: For students aspiring to be a part of the Ivy League, belling the CAT last November isn’t quite enough. The next challenge that lies before them is to successfully wade through the group discussion (GD) and interview rounds.
And just like CAT, clearing the next level requires special skill sets. ‘The selection procedure has become more informed and diverse. A conscious attempt is being made to have a diverse class composition, where students learn from each others differences, and learn to cope with it as well,’ says Nilesh Agrawal, an IIM alumni and entrepreneur.
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With the next level of selection round the corner, students’ anxiety levels are building up. Most are seeking answers to issues like what would be the right approach to handle topics and questions during the interview process; how to present oneself in the group discussion; how to ensure that what one says clinches the discussion in one’s favour and how does one gently but surely make what others say, redundant. There is technique, strategy, intelligence and timing besides articulation and conversational skills that are at stake. Is it any wonder then that coaching centres are busy structuring mock sessions, have demos and play acting with hypothetical situations.
Even some of the IIMs have come up with unique mentorship programmes to help students get a better grip over their sense of preparedness. In IIMC, students have taken up the task of mentoring prospective MBAs who have received calls to the second round of the admission process to the Joka campus in Kolkata. ’Aspirants just need to register on the IIMC website, and mentors will get in touch with them,’ says the ER cell.
IIM Lucknow also runs a similar Student Mentorship Program. The idea is to answer queries and clear doubts regarding the preparation for your GD/PI process and beyond.
There is no single trait that makes a student eligible or perfect to score high in the GD and interview process. ‘Evaluation is based on various parameters like subject knowledge, personality traits, career planning, thought clarity, general awareness, etc’, says Alok Acharya, centre director, T.I.M.E., Bhubaneswar.
Impactful group discussion
Students have various notions about conducting and speaking during a GD.
‘It becomes impossible to make it through the interview and GD process for someone who is low on confidence and unsure about what she/he wants. Being confident in an interview is one of the critical traits that B Schools would look for,’ Shiva Kumar, Director Research and Development at Career launcher says.
It is not all about speaking, adds Shiva Kumar. One important part of communication, that is often missed out is the need to listen and the process thereof. No communication is complete without this. There have been a fair number of cases when people have been rejected on this parameter, he says.
While students might wonder about the importance of correct accent, experts say its normal for some of the students to have geographical accent, unless someone speaks with an accent, which cannot be deciphered.
GD is not only about how much you can speak, it is also about your ability to assimilate and analyze what others are speaking. You need to be attentive and follow where the discussion is going and react and give valid points in between. You may face problem to summarize at the end, which is asked in some cases if you do not listen properly, recommends Acharya.
One of the most important tips to remember is being attentive. ‘During the GD process, while others are speaking, usually some of the students may fall into the laid-back attitude mode. Your body language should not show casual approach. Be involved in the discussion even while you are not speaking by nodding your head. Or looking at the person who is speaking,’ says Arun Kar, an IIM alumni, who is currently working with Intel.
Clinching the interview
This is a crucial round. It gives the board an insight into your approach to career, life and situations. Student counselors say that a number of times, the interview board creates a stressful situation for students just to gauge how s/he manages stress. It does not really matter if you are unable to answer a questions put to you.
‘Always remember, apart from knowledge, your approach to uncertainty and difficult situations is also important,’ says Agrawal. Acharya says the basic purpose of the interview is to understand candidate’s attitude towards personal and professional life. ‘The best schools will look at a balanced candidate with strong fundamentals, ability to think and react to different situations.’
Last but not the least, on D-day, be enthusiastic, dress smart, but don’t over dress. It shows you are detail oriented, says Kar. And have your wits about yourself. If you do indeed make a faux pas, recover quickly to make your next move.