What Is a Group Discussion?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 July 2022 | Published 6 June 2021

Updated 30 July 2022

Published 6 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A group discussion tests the teamwork and communication skills of candidates. A group discussion involves a discussion on a given topic with other candidates, usually with similar experience and educational qualifications. Performing well in a group discussion helps you to get noticed and practicing for one improves your public speaking skills. In this article, we will review what a group discussion is, its importance in the selection process, the skills evaluated during a group discussion and how to perform well in this round.

What Is A Group Discussion?

A group discussion is a discussion between a group of participants on a given subject. A group discussion typically forms a part of the selection process used by organisations and educational institutions. The candidates talk about the given topic to present facts, opinions and conclusions. Employers use this technique to screen candidates and assess their soft skills.

In a typical group discussion activity, the panellists or moderators will introduce themselves and give you instructions about the process. The group will then get about 10-15 minutes to think and prepare about the subject and approximately 30 minutes to discuss it. The time limits can vary from process to process. Panellists use an evaluation sheet for rating the performance of the candidates based on a predetermined marking rubric.

Related: 25 Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round

What Are The Types Of Group Discussions?

Group discussions are of the following types:

  • Factual group discussions: These group discussions are about practical things and judge how a candidate processes information and analyses day-to-day topics or socio-economic issues.

  • Opinion-based group discussions: These group discussions test how candidates put forward their opinions and views. These group discussions are less about facts and more about opinions.

  • Case study-based group discussions: These group discussions simulate real-life situations. The panellists give the group the details of a hypothetical situation and then the group has to resolve the situation together.

  • Abstract group discussions: These group discussions are about intangible topics. In these, the interviewers observe if a candidate can handle the given topic with lateral thinking and creativity.

Importance Of Group Discussion

Group discussions are important because they help the evaluator:

  • To judge whether the candidate is fit for the job

  • To test whether the candidate is a good team player

  • To assess the candidate's communication skills

  • To check whether the candidate is comfortable speaking spontaneously on any subject

  • To gauge the candidate's diction and pronunciation

  • To evaluate the body language and posture along with general composition and maturity

As a candidate, group discussion is a critical test because you get the chance to stand out among other candidates and maximise your chances of success in stiff competition.

Related: How to Succeed in Your First Interview

Which skills are evaluated in group discussion?

In a group discussion, the panellists evaluate the following skills to check the performance of a candidate:

Subject knowledge

The first thing that employers test is your expertise in the role's subject area. For example, if you apply for a sales position, the employers expect you to have in-depth knowledge of their products and sales process.

Creativity/Originality

Some jobs require innovative ideas and out-of-the-box solutions. In such cases, the panellists may employ group activities to check your creativity and originality of ideas in a group.

Voice

Communication skills include tone, volume and pitch control and your style of delivery. This skill is essential in customer-facing roles and in regular interaction with your peers and seniors. Employers check for an assertive approach, authoritative voice, clarity in speech and audible tone in a typical group discussion.

Body language

In a workplace, your body language speaks volumes about your actions and temperament. So, during a group discussion, panellists judge your hand gestures and head movements along with the expressions on your face. They also give high ratings for a professional outlook and a confident, straight posture.

Fluency

Fluency in speech is a critical skill for sales jobs or customer service roles. Speaking with effective pauses without stuttering or stammering can captivate an audience and make them listen carefully. That is why many employers test this ability simultaneously while checking your speech.

Initiative

Taking initiative is a mark of excellent leadership skills. In the beginning, panel members see if you try to start the conversation and establish its flow. If you are unable to do that, they also check if you wait for the right moment and take that chance to introduce your idea in a better way. Supporting your speech with statistics and some famous quotes also imprints a positive image on the listeners and interviewers.

Leadership

The panellists usually see if you start with your own viewpoint or ask others for their opinions. Helping others understand the subject matter and considering their perspectives proves your leadership acumen. Panellists also give bonus points if you can capitalise on other's viewpoints, adjust the conversation's flow and direct it towards actionable decisions.

Active listening

Active listening is an important skill for managerial positions or customer service roles. In a typical group, all members try to stress their points to get some limelight. So, employers usually observe those who listen to their peers without interruption. Letting them speak by giving a response and mentioning their views when you conclude the discussion shows them that you are an active listener.

Tips To Be Successful In A Group Discussion

Here are a few tips you can follow to be successful in group discussion rounds:

Prepare for different topics

Apart from your own academic qualifications, you should also possess general knowledge. Try to keep track of some common trending topics. Check on current national and international events by reading newspapers regularly. You can also try checking social media, discussing your area of expertise with friends and referring to journals and articles from the library. Make sure you research published papers thoroughly and validate the findings.

Practice public speaking

Check for live or recorded group discussions online and observe how influential people conduct themselves. If you have enrolled in any career classes, try to take part in mock group discussions actively. This will allow you to improve your confidence. Try to rehearse your appearance, speech and presentation in front of the mirror. It works great because you can be a more sincere critic of yourself than someone else.

Work on your body language

Be comfortable and pleasant in your demeanour. Avoid artificial gestures or quirky movements, unnecessary hand expressions and pointing fingers. Moving hands to stress your point, waving your arms in the air, scrubbing your nose or looking at the ceiling to disagree show odd manners. When you are talking with someone, try to look straight into the listener's eyes to convey your thoughts more effectively.

Be a good listener

If another candidate is speaking, listen carefully and ask questions to ease the topic's flow. If you need to contradict someone's viewpoint, ask politely. For example, "Your point is valid, but I wish to add some of my own observations." If you listen to their speech carefully, you can strike out their points and stress your opinion more effectively. Remember that other candidates also come prepared and try to lead the group.

Intervene without leaving a bad impression

If you want to interrupt someone, you should have a specific purpose. Wait for the proper time, be polite and speak in a formal tone. You can say, "Thank you for allowing me to speak," and stress your opinion with "Let me add my points," "Your point is valid but ..." or "We can also see this from another angle" sentences. Try to avoid openly disagreeing with other candidates.

Complement the agreeable points

You can support points with merit using sentences such as, "Yes, I also think we can approach this problem differently." Such actions will leave a positive impact on your quality as a team member. This approach is helpful because panel members also observe candidates' teamwork, their manner of response to differing opinions and general courtesy.

Face crucial moments

Sometimes, you may have to take a back foot when someone with a valid objection supersedes you. Or, a candidate may interrupt and try to talk over you. You should address that person calmly, ask them to cease the interruption and carry on speaking. The group supervisor will notice your calmness and maturity.

Practice summarisation and conclusion

At the end of a group discussion, you may have to provide some conclusion. Try to summarise the points and provide a valid outcome or a judgement for the best results.

Related: Guide: How to Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview

Common Subjects To Practice Group Discussion

Here are some topics for a group discussion for your practice:

  • Censorship in India: strict or selective

  • Harassment of women: the role of law

  • Budget for the year...

  • Farmers' problems and potential remedies

  • Nuclear energy, a boon or curse

  • What will you do if...


Related:
  • What Is Group Discussion In An Interview? How To Partake

  • How to Succeed in a Group Discussion

  • Sample Topics for Group Discussion

  • 15 Top Group Discussion Tips To Help You Pass To the Next Round

  • How To Start A Group Discussion (And Tips To Lead One)

  • Key Phrases for Starting, Leading and Concluding Any Group Discussion Topic


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