Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tips for GD and PI from IIMC mentorship programme

Some tips for GDs and Interviews
By Jayanti Dutta (IIMC 2005 Batch)


Body Language
# Sit straight backed, feet close together and not crossed.
# While speaking, pointing fingers, pencils/pens, should be avoided.
# While it is OK to gesture with your hands while making a point, avoid waving wildly.
# Good eye contact should be maintained.
# Try to appear formal and polite, but not too rigid. Try to relax.
# Smile :) [not too much!]

# Prepare your subjects thoroughly. While it is not essential to answer every question, you should show a reasonable grasp of your main subjects.
# Read the newspapers regularly so that you are up-to-date with current happenings
# Read at least one business newspaper/magazine. They are not really very difficult to understand. While detailed knowledge may not be required, a grasp of the basics helps.
# For the time being, practice speaking smoothly in English. We tend to mix up other languages when speaking, and don't realize how difficult it is to find the right words when needed.

# Dress in formals.
- Men should dress in formal shirt & trouser and may or may not wear a tie/blazer. Wear sensible shoes, not ones with studs and decorations.
- Ladies can wear Salwar Kameez or Western Formals, wear a saree only if you are very comfortable in it. Try to make your outfit formal looking in terms of colour as well as material. Wear sensible shoes(Even if open they should have straps - no chappals).
# Avoid heavy jewellery as far as possible.
# Hair should be neatly and formally arranged. Men should have facial hair neatly clipped if they have any.
# Carry a folder with multiple flaps. Keep your certificates, photocopies, admit card etc. well ordered, so that you don't have to search for them when asked. Carry a few white sheets and a pen with enough ink, and maybe a spare one...just in case.

Group Discussions

The crucial point to remember here is that a group discussion is not a debate. Hence, aggression is very negative. The main idea behind a GD is to exchange ideas, and listening is as important as speaking.

The topic may be general, abstract or technical. There may also be a case study. Content would differ accordingly.

For technical topics (WTO, GATT, etc), a basic understanding of the issue is sacrosanct. This needs to be supplemented by opinions, observations and speculations.

In case of a general topic, it helps to think laterally. Different dimensions may be introduced when the GD begins to stagnate.

Creative topics are the most interesting and hence the ones candidates are generally uncomfortable with. Here again, lateral thinking helps.

For a case discussion, the best way to start is to identify the problem and state it at the beginning of the GD. As different points of the case are analyzed, conjecture should be avoided. While reasonable guesses may be made, all analysis should be based on data or information contained in the case itself.

Remember that you are allotted points for your contribution to the topic. Avoid statements like "You know, what I feel about the topic in question is that we should take a balanced view"...Long statement, but it means nothing. It may indicate that you don't know what to say, and someone else will take over.

The optimum number of entries in the GD depends on duration and the number of candidates. However, there is no need to monopolize the discussion. It is far more important to be a team person and allow everyone a chance to speak. Basic courtesy does not cease to apply in a GD. It is not essential to contradict another person to prove one's own point. If you don't agree, say what you feel. Never say "You are wrong".

There is no need for the group to come to a conclusion unless specifically directed by the person conducting the GD. Each person must direct his speech to the other members and never to the moderator. It is important to be interested in the proceedings and not sit back when one feels his quota of entries is done with. While making a point, one must be brief and not meander.
This creates an opening for the other candidates to enter the GD. It also makes an impact if one tries to restore order in an otherwise chaotic GD. This illustrates leadership abilities. By a similar logic, taking initiative helps. But while acting as facilitator(only in case the GD become chaotic), make sure that you do not keep talking about maintaining order etc. Get on with the GD. In case the moderator specifically asks someone to act as facilitator( rarely happens) don't take the advantage you have to make your points!

Style of speaking varies from person to person and there is no need to adopt an artificial manner. A relaxed, polite and formal way of speaking makes a good impact. Over animation and excessive rigidity are both to be avoided - try and strike a balance.

1. Some people prefer opening the GD. It's a good bet, but it is also a lot of risk. If you make a good opening, you win the respect of the group for the rest of the GD .Ideally, the opening should give a structured introduction of the topic, substantiated with at the most one example. It should be brief and should never carry a conclusive remark. In a case study, the introduction should strictly be the problem definition and must not include the analysis of the case.

2. Most panels give you a minute or two to think. Use it to write down your points. Don't bother with sentences, note down some keywords.

3. It does not pay to save good points for the end. The GD might end abruptly or there may be too much commotion to make a good impact at the end. Some other candidate may also speak the point before you do. Candidates who have low lung power need to time their entries so that they can get in when there is a trough in the GD. Irrespective of style, shouting should be avoided at all costs. It creates an extremely bad impact on the panel.

4. For candidates who have difficulty speaking - it is important to be heard. Try to get in when the previous speaker stops for breath. A good way to start off is to mention a keyword - which sums up your point - in a raised voice, then to come back to your ordinary voice when everyone is listening. Make it a point to frame your point in your mind before you start, so that you don't dry up in between. Also try to speak in 4-5 sentences. If you say only one sentence, half of it will be lost before people start listening. Also try to start off as soon as you can, but don't appear desperate or uninterested.

5. Summarizing helps. While making a summary, do not include new points. This is also an opportunity to prove your listening skills if you have not spoken much throughout the GD. Panelists tend to ask the not so strong speakers to summarize, which should be fully utilized. A good way to keep track is to keep noting keywords on points that others are making. Start off with "(The group)/(We) agreed..." or "(The group)/(We) (has) discussed..."

6. At the interview, you may be asked about your performance in the GD. If you had dropped technical terms, these may be followed up. In case discussions, you may be asked to further elaborate on a point you made during the GD. One must be prepared for these situations.


There are three aspects to this: Personals, academics and General awareness. The stress on each varies from one institute to another, and sometimes, from one panel to another for the same institute. Ideally, you should give the same weightage to all three.

For personals, everything mentioned in the form is important. Keep photocopies of everything you submit and remember the answers you have written to questions asked about your personal life. Everything has to be substantiated with examples, for instance - qualities you possess, incidents that have made a deep impact on you, and so on. Role model, hobbies, extra curricular activities, motto in life, ethics and values, career goals are also analyzed. The most important thing to remember here is that the panel evaluating you is highly experienced, and trying to be someone you are not will never work.

Think about and frame your career goals(long and short term), beliefs and values, strengths and weaknesses etc. Try not to say anything controversial unless you can justify it. Be sincere.(It helps to write this down and study it, not so that it sounds learned by rote, but to be comfortable with what you want to say). Don't disguise strengths as weaknesses( I am a perfectionist, I am sensitive etc.)

Questions on academics have to be prepared well in advance. The level is typically graduation and after. For people who have been working, a basic understanding of their subject matter is tested and more emphasis is given to their professional career. However, for foreshores, its is very important to know your core subjects thoroughly. While you might not be equally proficient in all your subjects, your principal area of interest cannot be compromised upon.

General Awareness is tested at a very basic level, especially about the corporate world. Since this is where most of you are aspiring to be in, you must reflect an interest to know more about what is happening in corporate India and also globally. Reading a national daily and a business daily is a good way to go about this. Magazines help you to form opinions which you may be asked to share. You must also know about the institute itself and be clear about why you want to be a part of it.

Reaching the venue well on time is important. You should be dressed in formals and carry a portfolio or folder with all certificates and other necessary documents for verification. Also carry a pen and some papers just to be prepared Try and make a note of the headlines of the day. Ease nervousness by talking to other candidates.

During The Interview:
# Be relaxed and confident.
# Don't be too rigid
# It's not important to answer all questions
# Attitude and the way you behave when caught on the wrong foot helps
# Sometimes the panel will try to stress u out, don't get unnerved if the interview seems to be going badly. Panelists may spring a surprise and behave in an unexpected manner (walk round the room), show displeasure and act like they are not interested in whatever you are saying, even remark that you don't know much etc. Don't get affected by all this, these are mostly pressure tactics.
# It is OK to say 'I don't know' sometimes. In fact it is better than bluffing outright.

Typical Questions
# Tell us about yourself. Say the basics of your background in a sentence or two, then move on to something not on your CV/form
# Why MBA. Work out the answer to this one beforehand. Be sincere, don't be flippant
# Why this institute? Find out about the institute. Go through the website/talk to alumni.
# What are your short and long term career goals? Think this one through. Even if the answer is not very technically sound, the panel is basically checking that you have thought about it.
# What are your hobbies? One or two things you are really interested in. The panel may go into details, so try to make it something you know about.
#Have you any questions for us?Have a question ready(should not be about your performance/whether u are selected)

At the end of the day, you are one of the few people to have it made this far. Remember that, believe in yourself and know that you can do it. That's all it takes. All the best!!

Jayanti Dutta is a student of the batch of 2005 at IIM Calcutta. She had final calls from IIMs A, B, C, I ,K ,L, XLRI, IIFT, MDI, XIMB, Symbiosis (all India Top rank)
She did her summer internship at HSBC, London

1 comment:

hari said...

hi jyothi,
will you like to provide the mentoring support to our newly startup company. We have 5 people in core team 3 from IITK.
Let us know if u want to be our mentor..
Thank you.
Harisharnam kumar Rastogi