Majority of good Indian B-Schools use group discussion and personal interview (GD-PI) as an integral selection tool in the admissions. The entrance test, academic scores and work experience enlist the criteria to get qualified for interview call; the final selection largely depends on your performance in the final rounds of GD-PI.

The brightest of the lot with high scores in entrance test and academics get nervous during group discussion and one to one personal interviews. Moreover, the lack of awareness and understanding of what the GD-PI panel is looking for and how to prepare for the discussions and interview result in a few successes for students. Thus, not many students are able to turn the GD-PI calls into final admission calls.

The de-coding mantra for GD-PI round includes:

  1. Content is the key:

The knowledge and awareness about the current affairs is a must. You should be prepared around six to seven current affairs topics and start researching on these. These topics should be around political, economics and international interest. Students must research and try to remember important facts and figures regarding the topics and form some opinions with logical arguments. Apart from this, there are some generic facts that can be used in a variety of cases; for example-population, demographics, GDP, growth rate and rate of inflation for India. Further, writing essays on a variety of topics can help in developing thought structure. Some relevant topics for group discussion are:

  • Bitcoin Future
  • Bullet Train in India: Boon or Ban
  • Reduction in oil prices-Imperatives for Indian Economy
  • Whatsapp is killing minds
  • Indian Economy and Banking News

However, there could be times when you do not know much about the topic. Maintain your calm and don’t panic in such a situation. Take time and wait patiently for others to initiate, listen to their contents and start framing your ideas. In such situations it is your ability to ideate, be spontaneous & being adaptable that increase the chances for selection.

The preparation for personal interview will require you to be ready with the basic questions related to you like –

  • Introduce yourself- this is the potent question and can help the interviewer to select you in the very first minute of your answer.
  • What are your short term and long term goals- the answer should speak about clarity of your career and life goals.
  • Your strength and weakness- be true and don’t try to fool the panel.
  • Why you want to do an MBA- be clear, crisp and concise.
  • About your hometown, experience:- be specific
  1. What matters is how you present:

Content alone could not lead you to success unless you present well. Presentation includes articulation of thoughts, voice and tone, timing, address to the group, dress sense and use of language and much more. A well structured articulation is a way to gain approval from the panelists. Being crisp and concise and speaking right points at the right time is very essential in the discussion. One should address the entire group with respect while making an argument and should not talk to an individual. Further, one should avoid looking at the moderators as they are not the part of the group. The use of gestures such as pointing fingers, extreme words and statements is a strict no. The art of disagreeing with a pleasant tone and expression will help you win the situation. Use of formal dress and formal language also add value to your overall presentation. Those who commence and conclude the GD generally gain a few marks of appreciation as well.

Presenting your self doesn’t necessarily means using flowery language and putting a mask. One must be true in expressing oneself and should always remember that the members sitting in the interview panel are smarter and more experienced than us.

  1. Right Attitude:

 The candidates need to understand the difference between being assertive & confident and being dominating & overconfident. The B-school’s selection panel is looking for team players who can be a team player and a team leader if needed. Thus they judge you on your team skills and attitude. Ability to listen and connect with others will help you in gaining some positive points. Having the ability to speak with clarity and being assertive is very critical. At the same time one must always listen to what others are saying, discuss their points & try generating new ideas. Being dominating and not letting others speak is an easy way to get eliminated.

The panel may like to evaluate you in the panic and stressful situations. Thus, just have a positive attitude and stay calm.

Brief Profile of the Author:

Dr. Vaishali Agarwal

She has interviewed thousands of MBA and PGDM aspirants in the tenure of last 15 years during her academic career across various management institutions in India. Her areas of interest include Marketing Management, Services Marketing, Sales and Distribution and Consumer Behavior. She has participated in number of national and international conferences and has number of publications to her credit in the various journals of National repute and in the conference proceedings of National and International Conferences. She has organized and delivered the in-company training programs for the PSUs like PDIL and Oriental Bank of Commerce, Noida and delivered training programs for companies like Dr. Reddy’s, Wipro, ICICI bank, etc.