Group Discussions And Introversion


This post has been pending for years now. Ever since I finished post-graduation, I have got little more time for myself, time to read books again and enjoy the solitude.

This article is going to cover my experiences with GDs (Group Discussions) and how I dealt with them. Not sure if this can qualify to be a tutorial post of "How to nail GDs?" or "How introverts can speak in GDs?"

I'm a person who doesn't speak much, and when there's a group chat, I don't like to talk at all! I like to be in solitude. In short, I'm an introvert. Therefore, Group Discussion is a parameter which can't filter out persons like me for a job during the placement/selection process. Whether Group Discussion is a correct parameter to select candidates or not is a different topic and I won't talk on it.

During my engineering, I sat for almost ten GDs (all were not for placements-some were practice GDs while some were with friends) and funny part is that I didn't utter a single word in the first eight of those :p But, my last two GDs were fantastic! During GDs I never felt like speaking despite knowing that speaking would bring one step closer to the job. Words just never came to my tongue from mind plus I never felt the need. When people would speak, I'd carefully listen to what they had to say as a good listener as if my role in GDs was only to listen what others had to say. For me, getting a job was never that important especially by doing something which is not in my nature. So, I never spoke until the ninth and tenth GD. The gap between eighth and last two GDs sounds very small but the effort which went towards the last two was huge.

Indian Army, some Core Mechanical companies, some IT companies...I flunked in all the GDs I sat for! I still remember myself going for GDs with no interest of getting selected. And I went for Indian Army GD not to get selected but to have it as my mock GD (utter disrespect for my Army's selection process). And like this I sat for other GDs as well with no mood to get selected. During this time, I was also keen on pursuing design as career which also made me uninterested in jobs. During the process, I saw many of my classmates getting through, making it to the jobs. Initially it didn't matter but when I saw worthless candidates getting jobs, I was dumbstruck. That shook me, and some sessions of introspection happened :p  I then decided, "I may not want job, I may not work even after getting selected but I have to get selected. I can't be behind those who were behind me throughout the college and school." I decided to take small step first, I made a firm decision to speak. I didn't follow what people said or what was there in online tutorials- practice in front of mirror. I never did that. Language was never a barrier, all I needed to do was to be courageous and speak. The next GD came closer, unlike other GDs, this time I was excited, I had decided to do something-to speak.

The next and eighth GD was for ITC Infotech (I was one of the few (around 70) candidates out of 1000s to crack their aptitude test of software programming which wasn't my major subject). Like with earlier company that I sat for, Wipro, I was not interested in this company too. This time, the major reason was, it was ITC! Indian TOBACCO Company. Working for a tobacco manufacturer was again one of the No-No's of my morals and values. But, I sat for it, not sure what drove me for that.

We were around eight in the group. As we settled, I had decided to speak at number three, whatever it would be, I'd speak. The GD started, like earlier I again went on to become a listener. I missed to speak at number three. "What are you doing, speak!" I said to myself. I started bringing words to my thoughts, then as the GD progressed, my thoughts came to my tongue but my efforts could not translate the words from tongue into speech. It was difficult to speak. Since, I came decided, without loosing hope, I kept trying to speak. But I failed. GD ended and I didn't speak this time too. Saddened with my cowardly act, I was being angry to myself throughout the journey on metro from Noida to Dwarka. My class buddy spoke only one sentence and got through. Had I gained that much courage, I also would have got selected. I was not putting blame of my destiny at that time but at my preparation.

Time came for another GD, ninth one, this time the company was India's largest Automobile glass manufacturer, ASAHI. Like in ITC, I again made up my mind to speak, "I have to speak no matter what!" I again cleared the written :p Actually, I have cleared all the apti tests that I sat for during engineering :D Those were not even considered as hurdles. We were a group of around 10-15 this time. I did not think of the sequence at which I'd speak, all that came in my was that I'd speak. Like Rome was not built in a day, it was difficult for me to speak. So, I didn't stop my thinking process, I kept collecting sentences...enough number of points to speak for at least 3 times.
Bang! I spoke my point in the flow. Raised a question so got more chances to speak. After that, out of the participants, we were only three who were actively involved in GD and I was one of those three :D I didn't make it through, but I was still celebrating because, first, I didn't want the job, second, I spoke in GD...Like a stupid person, I came out cheerful even after loosing. I had won the fight that I was fighting with myself.  My preparation for ITC's GD came in use for the next one. This single GD brought immense confidence. GDs started sounded like a child's play.

And after a long break, there came another company, Tata McGraw Hills (TMH), one of the largest publishing houses. For the first time, I was interested in a job - of an Editor. They were offering job that excited me. As always, I cleared the apti test. Like the role, their test was also different, it tested for the grammatical, communication and creative writing skills. Out of more than 200 candidates, I was amongst the 15 selected, Lol!
Anyway, the confidence from the previous GD was so high that not only I initiated the GD but I was one of three who spoke throughout the time! There was another force behind the confidence, it was motivation to get selected. I wanted this job. And, finally, I cleared my tenth GD. I qualified for the interview. And it's been more than three years, the publisher is yet to declare the results :) No one got through. This is destiny! But, the lessons learnt in this journey were too many. And after this, I had received interview call from another firm for a similar post for which I didn't even go.

GDs are not the best thing that can happen to introverts. It's just not everyone's piece of cake, yet all one needs to succeed is the firm decision and courage to speak. It may not come naturally but sometimes, one has to speak, to win, to fight, to raise voice and to be heard.

"Crowd is big enough to get lost. You may be different but you have to raise your voice, to be heard, to be visible."

PS- I wonder why companies whose job role doesn't demand to speak much, manage or lead conduct GD for the selection process. Perhaps, these days, GDs have just become a tool to filter out a large list before the interview. In recent times, many of the IIMs have chucked out the GD from their selection process for MBA candidates. Companies need to learn from these IIMs.

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