What is Group Discussion?

Table of Contents:-

  • What is group discussion?
  • Conduct of Group Discussions
  • What do Selectors Look For during group discussion?
  • Group Discussion: The Do’s
  • Group Discussion: The Don’ts
  • Language to be focused for group discussions

What is group discussion?

A group discussion is a means of interaction within or between various teams in an organization. It often plays an essential role in determining managerial success. This practice is common in competitive exams and job interviews, serving as a standard component towards the end of an interview that shortlisted candidates must participate in.

Group Discussions (GD) held as a selection process always involve the selectors and the GD participants. The former plays only a passive role; they merely observe the GD process and each participant. They seldom intervene or interfere. Their sole objective is to identify specific attributes in the participants that may not be easily discernible by other means.

Group Discussion (GD) is gaining increasing importance as a selection tool for various reasons. Typically, GDs are conducted after the written test to shortlist candidates for the next stage of the selection process. GD also enables the selection panel to outright reject candidates due to poor performance in the GD. This technique is being increasingly utilized by professional educational institutions, especially business schools, and businesses, to select HRD professionals. GD allows the selection panel to observe, compare, and form opinions about many candidates relatively quickly.

GD provides the opportunity to assess certain traits and skills (such as the following) of candidates that are not readily observable in a resume, written examination, or an interview:

  1. Quality of participation
  2. Problem-solving skills
  3. Leadership qualities
  4. Ability to handle people
  5. Analytical skills
  6. Non-verbal behaviour
  7. Oral communication skills
  8. Decision-making ability
  9. Team spirit
  10. Behavior in a group
  11. Conformation to norms
  12. Importance is placed on both the group objective and one’s individual goals.
  13. Inter-personal behaviour
  14. Listening skills and openness to accepting diverse viewpoints
  15. Body language

Conduct of Group Discussions

A Group Discussion is typically a formal discussion involving an invited group of participants. The number of participants usually ranges from around eight, but there is no guarantee it will not be fifteen. They will be given a topic, often a contemporary and debatable one. The participants are allowed a few minutes, typically about 10 minutes, to understand the topic and organize their thoughts. Then, they are asked to discuss the topic for about 20 to 25 minutes. The time available for the discussion is communicated to the participants in advance. In such GDs, no one is appointed as the coordinator or leader. Everyone is treated on par by the selection panel, but it is not uncommon for someone to take the initiative and assume a leadership role.

A GD is typically not bound by procedural rules, as in the case of a formal debate. Here, candidates can express their opinions freely on the subject under discussion. A candidate can speak in favour of the subject, against it, or even follow a neutral path. Everything depends on the interests and abilities of each member of the group. Thus, the candidates are free to discuss the topic without interference from the selection panel.

The entire discussion process takes place in front of the selection panel, which closely observes every action of each participant.

What do Selectors Look For during group discussion?

In a GD, what does the panel of selectors look for? They will be seeking a variety of attributes in you that they could not assess from the resume. These will include the following:

  1. What was your level of knowledge about the subject?
  2. Were you a good listener?
  3. Did you make any valuable contributions at all?
  4. How positive or negative was your body language?
  5. Did you communicate effectively?
  6. Did you provide leadership to the group?
  7. Did you unnecessarily interrupt others?
  8. Did you look or sound “selfish”?
  9. Did you exhibit any analytical skills?
  10. Did you do anything to bring the group’s attention to the topic rather than going outside it?
  11. How good a team player were you?

Group Discussion: The Do’s

If you have a good level of general knowledge, it will come in handy in a GD. Similarly, your proficiency in vocabulary, grammar, accent, and so on can help draw the selectors’ attention toward you.

You must adhere to some do’s and don’ts to bring out the best in you and create the desired impact on the selectors. These are:
  1. Enter the discussion at an early stage.
  2. Ensure that your contributions are focused on the given topic.
  3. Listen attentively to others; you may even take brief notes.
  4. Try to speak about something new that earlier speakers have not mentioned.
  5. Communicate with confidence.
  1. Even when you oppose a viewpoint, use dignified language.
  2. If the discussion is out of focus, try to point this out and bring it back on track.
  3. If any participant needs to clarify their viewpoint, ask pertinent questions.
  4. Remain confident and interested throughout the discussion, whether you are speaking or not.
  5. Try to make your contributions the central point of the discussion.
  6. Collaborate instead of compete.
  7. Use positive body language, for example, looking into the other person’s eyes when listening or speaking.
  8. Conclude each argument at the right time and in the proper manner.

Group Discussion: The Don’ts

The selectors will critically observe your every action while the GD is on and note both positive and negative points. While it is essential to demonstrate strengths, it is equally important to work on your weaknesses. So, please take note of the listed don’ts below:

  1. Don’t remain silent for a long time; the selectors are present to hear you speak.
  2. Don’t use abusive or objectionable gestures or language.
  3. Don’t appear or feel uneasy when someone else is speaking.
  4. Don’t impose your views upon others.
  5. Don’t exhibit negative body language, for example, shaking your leg when speaking.
  6. Stay consistent with the subject given for discussion.
  7. Don’t interrupt others when they are speaking.
  8. Don’t give instructions to other members of the group.
  9. Don’t get irritated or lose your temper if someone disagrees.
  10. Don’t speak for the sake of speaking.
  11. Don’t take anything personally.

Language to be focused for group discussions

Here is some helpful language that can be used for group discussions:

Stating an opinion:

  1. I believe…
  2. I tend to think…
  3. Clearly…
  4. It’s evident that…
  5. In my view…
  6. It seems to me…


  1. Sorry to interrupt but…
  2. If I may interrupt…
  3. Excuse me, may I ask for a clarification on this…

Handling Interruptions:

  1. Sorry, please let me finish…
  2. Please allow me to finish what I’m saying…?
  3. If I may finish what I am saying…

Moving the discussion on:

  1. I think we should now move on to considering…
  2. Can we go on to think about…?

Expressing Agreement:

  1. I entirely agree.
  2. I think you’re right.
  3. Absolutely / precisely / exactly.
  4. I couldn’t agree more.

Expressing disagreement:

  1. I think quite differently about this.
  2. I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on this point.
  3. I don’t think so.

Checking comprehension/reformulating:

  1. Are you saying…?
  2. To put that another way…
  3. So what you’re saying is…
  4. If I follow you correctly…
  5. Does that mean…?

Making a suggestion:

  1. We could…
  2. What about…?
  3. Why don’t we…?
  4. I suggest that…
  5. It might be worth…
  6. Perhaps we should…

Assessment Criteria

A panel of experts evaluates the participants of Group Discussions. Here are most areas on which they would mark you on their evaluation sheets. Keep these in mind when you participate in Group Discussions.

  1. Command over spoken English: It should be logical, coherent, correct, and appropriate.
  2. Knowledge base:  Genuine facts, and figures, authentic information,
  3. Convincing power: Decent, cogent, and constructively forceful attitude.
  4. Discourse management: Coping with twists and turns in arguments.
  5. Body Language: Eye contact, body posture, attentiveness.
  6. Maturity:  Candidates must not mock others or take unnecessary advantage to prove themselves as leaders.
  7. Listening: Intelligent and analytical.
  8. Supplementing: Responding and adding to what another person has said before initiating a fresh discussion turn.
  9. Initiative and Assertiveness.

Beneficial Team Behaviour:

  1. Initiate discussions.
  2. Summarize.
  3. Act as a gatekeeper, direct conversational traffic and avoid simultaneous conversations.
  4. Subdue dominant talkers make room for reserved and shy people.
  5. Suggest procedures for reaching a goal/consensus.
  6. Seek information and opinions.
  7. Keep the discussion from digressing.
  8. Clarify or elaborate ideas.
  9. Be flexible and creative in resolving differences.


Employers increasingly use Group Discussion (GD) because it allows them to observe participants in a group environment and evaluate their crucial attributes, comparing them with other candidates. Participants may excel academically and professionally, but if the selectors notice that their spoken communication or body language needs to be better, there is a possibility that they will be rejected at the Group Discussion stage. Therefore, enhancing social skills before participating in a GD is essential. Ensure participation in the Group Discussion stands out, making the selectors take note of you!


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