All management aspirants who want to a bag a seat at a top B School have to navigate the crucial Group Discussion and Personal Interview. These are important opportunities for candidates to make a lasting impression. Dr. Prabhat Pankaj, Director, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Jaipur, reveals the secrets that can help students ace the selection process. Shedding light on the importance of the GD he says, “It’s not only meant for assessing the candidate’s knowledge of current affairs, but also to measure his or her ability to respond to their teammates.”
However, he is quick to point out a GD with low intensity participation does not reveal much, while one with hyper and temperamental participants kills the very purpose. That’s something his institute realized early, which led them to begin to focus on Case Analysis. According to Dr. Pankaj, there are several benefits to CA: “CA allows a candidate to live a virtual situation where there is a need for making decisions. The candidate has to take a stand which reveals her/his overall perception, personality, decision making ability, and ability to construct arguments.”
Dr. Pankaj also has advice for those who might not be in tune with the topic of discussion and, therefore, might struggle to make an impact. In those situations, he believes that the best strategy is to wait and listen carefully to the others in the GD before presenting a counter-argument. He states, “The first mover is not always an advantage unless you are able to make a meaningful beginning. There is an ‘interjector’ advantage. An interjector presents contradictions through good examples. There is a ‘leadership’ advantage, wherein one can bring the discussion back on track.”
However, all the efforts made by students in the GD can come to a naught during the Personal Interview. Dr. Pankaj says that’s because the two are completely different processes. “GD is about your ability to put forward points, contextualizing them, and convincing others,” he explains. “The PI does not depend so much on instant preparation, but a lot on how you have been thinking about those questions. Besides that, body language is important: sit straight, look into the eyes of the interviewer while answering questions. Dress appropriately and wear a smile.”
For those who tend to go blank during the interview, Dr. Pankaj has some helpful tips as well. He suggests, “Never look blank, or scratch your hair. The best way is to ask for time to recall the answer. Keep your cool and focus on finding the answer; but if you can’t, accept the fact that, unfortunately, you are not able to recall the answer just now. The interviewer will move on to the next question and it will not be considered a negative, especially if you could answer subsequent questions.” Now, that’s pretty helpful advice that management candidates can benefit from.