TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR GROUP DISCUSSIONS AND INTERVIEW POST CAT/MAT
It has been said quite often that preparing for an interview is like preparing for your own wedding– leading to a fresh journey with merely a window of vision, but mostly unknown; or, it’s like preparing for a war– finally, after all the hardships, you want to come out a winner. [Similarities between “marriage” and “war” have been stated explicitly too, but, for lack of space, let’s not get into that right now!
Yes, no matter who you are, the D-Day will be very scary. You’d be appearing for interviews in your life for many things- getting into your choice college, club, a job, and so on. Heck, to even leave your own country and go abroad, the visa procurement interview is a tough nut to crack as well!
However, as in a wedding or war, with the right kind of preparation, patience and persistence, your confidence and focus would help finding your “dream spouse” or your “dream job“. When you have the opportunity to land the perfect future, you have to be sure you are ready.
In other words, you have to be an effective interviewee- one that everyone wants to lay their hands on, one that would walk into any establishment confidently. There are proven ways to get beyond the typical interview and make you stand out from all the other candidates, and add to that your personal quotient, content and confidence, and voila- we’d have a winner at our hands!
It’s like in India, everyone is fairly an expert on what works in an interview and what doesn‘t, just as we all are experts at cricket, politics and relationships. (watching, commentating and strategizing looking at the idiot box). But out there at the field, you have the one-in-a-billion Sachin Tendulkar only, who became what he did after years of practice.
Group Discussions (GD) have become an important element of the selection of candidates at B-schools and companies requiring a large workforce, such as IT companies, BPOs and FMCG majors. The major purpose of the GD is to test candidates’ communication skills, leadership, spontaneity, team skills and whether they have a structured thinking process.
Generally in group discussions, there is an initial burst of enthusiasm where everyone is looking for the first-mover advantage (as advised by the coaching-walas) and then there is incomprehensible clutter, leading to illogical statements, factual errors and ends in a ho-hum where the participants are merely looking at each other. And then, a couple of wise souls in midst would pick up the baton, and repeat everything that had already been discussed, this time only a little louder. A group is only as good as the lowest common dominator and the bigger a group is the worse it is. A lot of fresh graduates who are (mis) guided by their peersinto producing template statements during the GD process, and often speak on topics unrelated to the topic given!
- Try initiate the discussion, but don’t be rude/forceful/disturbed/disturbing in case that didn’t happen
- Speak firmly, yet politely. Stay away from the ‘fish-market’.
- Use positive body language
- Agree with the right; don’t disagree for grabbing attention only
- Speak to the point
- Maintain eye contact with the group, and not the moderator
- Practice how to enter and exit discussions
- Don’t underestimate your group OR the moderator/interviewer
- Read vociferously. No substitute to knowing everything about everything.
Yes, all interviewees would be looking at your overall personality, attitude and aptitude; they’d want candidates who are would be groomed into leaders of tomorrow. Ideally, there would be a suitable match for every candidate based on his or her X-factor. You need to prepare for CTC.
Generally speaking, there are three things that every organization looks for in an aspirant
- Communication Skills: Ability to communicate, listen and present appropriately;
- Technical skills: no, not just your prowess on an excel sheet! They’re looking for your knowledge in your subject area of education, and application of that knowledge;
- Conceptual skills: Ability to comprehend, relate, workout, create and expand ideas and knowledge
Keep the following steps in mind, and you’ll come out with flying colours.
1. Prepare like a champion: Have you seen Sylvester Stallone’s Oscar winning movie, ‘Rocky’? The protagonist prepares for every fight as if it were the championship bout, even if the opponent was too weak. Every little GD and Interview you give should be like that.
2. Career Planning and Goal Setting: All of us today have dreams and aspirations of a great career. We benchmark our future with achievers of the times gone by, and make a constant endeavor to reach the higher-goals. Plan ahead, and know what would be required of you at each passing phase.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice! : The most important advise that anyone can give you for clearing an interview is to practice as much as you can. Whilst we do not suggest that you mug-up the answers to standard Qs and As, but you start planning it in your head as to what you would be saying. Start visualizing the bare details and you would see that appropriate answers would start coming to you.
4. You’ve got to get the look!
To get the part, you’ve got to look the part. Work on it!
|Be prepared: clothes and personal grooming (shoes, clothes, accessories, etc) ready|
|Interview folder arranged and reviewed|
|Personal grooming and hygiene (nails, hair, shaving, etc)|
|Phone/ tablet/ Phablet set to SILENT / Off|
|Location for interview checked|
|Travel plan for interview finalized with weather consideration|
|Backup clothes, folders, certificates photocopied etc ready|
5. The regular YOU and the situation: Make sure that you thoroughly research the organization, the industry, and the job itself. Whatever you do, you cannot appear blank at the time of the interview. Your basics about yourself- the attire, the folder, mannerisms – and your content- your general knowledge, analytical skills, and specific research about that role and company- just cannot be compromised with. Have your elevator pitch about yourself ready. Practice till you reach perfection.
Get into the habit of thinking answers in a framework, such as SARA©
Set up the Situation (S) based on the question asked in your mind,
Explain the Action (A) required finding or providing a solution,
Share the Result (R) with the interviewer
Answer further (A) based on the response to the result
All the best!