If you are like the average college student, Group Discussions can seem terrifying to you. Am I speaking too much or too little? Will I look stupid if I say this? How can I make my point without cutting someone? What do I do? These are some of the questions that might trouble you before a GD.
To help you feel confident and know how to approach a GD, here are four roles that you can play which are sure shot winners:
1. The Initiator
Recruiters often look for people who take initiative. Correctly starting the GD gives you an edge over others. One, you get a 30 to 45 seconds golden opportunity where everyone is listening to you. Second, participants rarely interject someone who is starting off the GD.
How to start?
Quickly, introduce and explain the topic, talk about its relevance and put forward your views on the topic.
Caution: Never be an initiator if you have a limited idea about the topic. If you are initiating, always remember to talk no more than 1 minute and only to introduce the topic. End your introduction, by asking other participants to share their views.
2. Knows It All or Smarty-pants
Smarty Pants are subject matter experts on a topic. They have all the facts and examples ready and understand the topic deeply. Smarty-pants impress judges by building arguments and presenting them in a credible matter.
How to be knowledgeable?
Be aware of what’s happening around you by reading newspapers, student blogs, and expert articles on LinkedIn, Quora, etc. You can also download Aon CoCubes’ List of Common Asked GD Topics to know what topics to prepare before your GD.
Caution: Neither make-up, false facts to seem Cool or knowledgeable nor state unrelated facts just for the sake of it. You will end up looking dumb instead of smart in these scenarios.
3. Devil’s Advocate
A Devil’s Advocate purposefully selects the side that everybody else would not support, especially in case of a controversial topic. For example: if the topic is Nuclear weapons should be banned, the devil’s advocate would say that they shouldn’t be banned, as everybody else would disagree (stating arguments such as they are a deterrent for war or provide protection to smaller nations that don’t have a large Air Force or Army). It would lead to the following two scenarios:
1. Everybody would defend their point of view and try to convince you.
2. People would stop and think about your point of view and support it.
How to Be a Devil’s Advocate?
Do a simple exercise – For the GD topic, make a Pros and Cons column and think hard about what those pros and cons can be. Once you have an opposing point of view, present it calmly, even if everybody is shouting or attacking you. The idea is to look smart and stand-out and not to get into heated arguments with others.
Caution: Be the devil’s advocate only if you can handle people calmly, and when you have relevant points, else you will get stuck in your own trap.
4. The Nurturer
The Nurturer treats other participants with respect, is polite, and smiles often, and never engages in a one-on-one fight. He/she is like a facilitator who mediates when there are confrontations in a GD and brings people back to the agenda. In case someone is not getting a chance to speak, he/she asks the group to let that person talk and listens carefully to them.
How to Be a Nurturer?
Nurturers are good roles to play if you don’t have substantial knowledge about the topic or when you are interviewing for positions that require significant human interaction. Remember to be polite, calm, firm when communicating. Nodding and smiling when others are speaking especially those who seem under confident, helps as well.
Caution: While being courteous, don’t forget that you are in a competitive environment. Make sure that you make your points as well because just being polite and having no content won’t take you anywhere in a GD.
Is anyone of these roles better than the other? No. It depends on how familiar you are with the topic and how confident you feel playing a role. Always select a role that suits your personality and no one else is playing so that you stand out in style!