How to prepare for GD, Written Test and Personal Interviews (Tips)

It’s the time of the year when MBA aspirants gear up to secure a seat in the top business schools of the country. The entrance test results are out and the pressure to crack the group discussion and interviews is building up big time. Here are some suggestions to help you in this endeavor.

Group discussion (GD) is typically a component of the admission process for many top MBA institutes. The candidates are assessed on their listening skills, articulation, general awareness, confidence, teamwork, leadership skills and many other aspects. Thus, while preparing for or participating in a group discussion, one should keep in mind that these aspects are to be demonstrated. Keeping yourself updated with the current affairs, understanding Indian economy and its issues and general business awareness will surely help on the content side. Maintaining GD etiquettes is the next important thing which include keeping an eye contact, positive body language, active involvement and being courteous to others. Starting the GD is invariably considered as positive, however, it’s a double edge sword. If not done properly, it can also go against you. Remember, starting the GD is a role to be played which includes setting the direction and frame of discussion.

Articulation is another key to perform well in the GD. Speaking clearly and communicating your opinion without making complex statements is critical for enabling others to quickly understand what you are trying to say and thus helping them also to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. This also highlights the importance of listening skills. If you appear to be lost in your own thoughts, it is a clear indicator that you are just thinking about what to say next and not actively listening to others. Listening helps you to participate meaningfully in the discussion thread instead of just saying any random thought on the topic.

There are also a few things which are better to avoid. The first is to avoid making GD a fish market. Second, avoid abruptly cutting others while they are still making a point. Third, team work is shown in forwarding the discussion smoothly and not in showing the tactics of passing the opportunity to somebody else, especially when you yourself have not contributed much to the discussion.

Some institutes also conduct a written ability test through which the aspirants are assessed on their writing skills. While preparing for this, pay attention to the sentence structure, flow, grammar and clearly articulating your thoughts.

The next in line and the most crucial component of any admission process is the personal interview (PI). Many consider PI to be the most effective tool to check the suitability of the aspirant for the admission especially for a management program. It helps the interviewer to not only understand the motivation of the candidate but also to gauge the competencies required. Now the question comes what competencies do the b-schools look for? The answer is simple to decode. They essentially look for the competencies that lead to outstanding performance in the program and the subsequent job. These are but not limited to self-management and control, communication, interpersonal relationship, leadership, initiative and achievement orientation, teamwork and collaboration, etc. As in the case of GDs, candidates are expected to demonstrate these competencies while responding to the questions asked during the interview. Often the questions are asked in disguised form so it is the ability of the individual to understand the question and the intention behind the same. The focus may be more on behavioral questions so articulate specific instances of what you did – the actions, and the results. In addition to these competencies aspirants may also be tested on domain related knowledge. Keep yourself updated with what is happening in your area of interest. Above all, be enthusiastic but keep your calm and come across as a confident, grounded and thoughtful candidate.

Happy Paul
Prof. Happy Paul earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from IIT Roorkee. Prior to that, he obtained his MBA degree in Human Resource from Uttarakhand Technical University, Dehradun. He has also qualified UGC NET (JRF). He has over 5 years of experience in academia. Before joining TAPMI, he has worked as Assistant Professor and In-charge Admissions at Graphic Era Deemed University, Dehradun.