The purpose of the Group Discussion(GD) is to observe a candidate in an interactive situation and provide information about her / his functioning as a member of a group. Following qualities of the candidate is observed during the discussion.
1. Intellectual Maturity
Evaluation of ideas / options
Defining / analyzing and understanding problem / issue
Generation of ideas / options
2. Social Maturity
Co operation and risk-taking in interpersonal problems and conflicts
Influence with flexibility
Participation-active (not dominant or uninvolved)
Listening attentively and with understanding
Sensitivity to others
3. Emotional Maturity
Criticism(contra-indicator-reactivity / withdrawal)
Composure and resilience in the face of difference of opinion
Clarity in difficult situations (contra indicator- confusion)
Confidence in difficult situations (contra-indicator- anxiety / nervousness)
Observers: All those who likely to take part in the recruitment process may be observers for the GD. There may be a minimum of two observers. The observers should sit around the circle of candidates so as to be able to observe each candidate unobtrusively. In order to "cover" the whole group, the observers may also shift their seating positions as quietly as possible without disturbing the candidates and their discussion.
Topic: The topic for discussion may be decided by the group itself, in which case observation of the group begins by the interviewer. Choose a topic that is familiar to all the candidates. If two or more GDs are to be administered, one of the topics may be a "rank-order task", another an "incident based" task where some problem is to be solved or a decision to be taken, while yet another could be a "controversial issue".
Time : The amount of time to be allocated for a single GD is apportioned keeping an average of 3-4 minutes per candidate.
Numberf of GDs : For entry level positions one discussion is enough. It may however, be necessary to hold additional discussions in case the observers think that they do not have adequate data to arrive at a firm assessment on any of the dimensions. All decisions in the group would be arrived only through discussion and not through any other method e.g. one or two candidates taking decisions or majority vote. In other words, the decision has to be arrived by 'consensus' and not by 'vote'. Observations are in the nature of "evidences" or "clues" for the presence or absence of any one or more of the afore-said dimension, vis, Mental Maturity, Social Maturity and Emotional Maturity.
Some suggestions about how consensus can be achieved:
Members should avoid arguing in an attempt to win as individuals. What is 'right' is the best collective judgement of the group as a whole.
Conflict about ideas, solutions, predictions, etc., should be viewed as helping rather than hindering the process.
Problems are solved best when individual group members accept responsibility for both listening and contributing so that everyone is included in the decision.
Tension-reducing behaviour can be useful.
Each Member is responsible for monitoring the process through which work gets done and for initiating discussion of process when work is becoming ineffective.
The best results flow from a fusion of information, logic and emotion. Value judgements included member's feelings about the data and about the process of decision making.
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