Group Discussion Case Study

Quite often, for group discussions, a caselet is given on which the candidates have to form their opinions and discuss it out. Different people may have different solutions and viewpoints. This requires a different approach, since a group discussion is on a particular topic while a case is situational. Based on this, a student can learn the methodology to tackle case studies.

CASE: You are the manager of a nationalised bank in a busy area. The branch has done very good business in the past but is now facing competition from private banks. One day, an influential customer comes to get a demand draft made but finds that the cashier is not on his seat. He waits for 10 minutes after which he approaches you. You find the cashier and direct him to attend to the customer. The cashier tells the customer that he would have to wait another 10 minutes as he is doing an important piece of work. At this, the customer loses his patience and there is an altercation between the customer and the cashier. Angry, the customer walks into your office and threatens to take his business elsewhere. You pacify him.

Considering the fact that bank unions are very strong and would immediately call for strike if you took any action against the cashier, what would you do in the given situation?

Candidate I: This is a common situation faced by bank customers. Nationalised banks have traditionally given poor service and employees have behaved irresponsibly towards their customers. That is the reason that they are losing customers after private banks have come in. I feel that the cashier should not go unpunished. As bank manager, I would like to be strong and suspend the cashier, since he has led to an important customer withdrawing his business. It is true that I would have to face the wrath of the unions but in the long term interest of the bank, it is better to face the unions once than to live in fear of them. My action would also send a message to other employees and set an example. This is the only way that our branch can face up to the competition. We have to provide good service. By going on strike, we may lose business for a few days but in the long run, the bank would work more efficiently. It is time we faced inefficient employees once and for all, rather than live in dread of them. After all, the prime objective of the bank is customer service and increasing business. If we cannot do that, do we have a reason to exist?

Candidate II: I would like to motivate the cashier and explain to him how his action has affected the bank and one of our best customers. If he really withdraws business from the bank, would it be beneficial to us? I think the problem lies in motivation. If bank employees feel responsible for their job and realise the importance of the work they are doing, they will want to contribute to the branch. The solution thus lies in motivation and guidance. I would try to find out what work the cashier was doing at the time the customer came. Maybe he was doing something which was not part of his duties, or maybe he needs some assistance, which I will provide to him. I am sure he will appreciate my concern and improve in the future.

Candidate III: Before knowing the facts of the case, how can I take action? I would constitute an inquiry committee to find out the facts. If the cashier was found to be doing something which he shouldn’t have been doing,. I would recommend his immediate transfer or sacking. I would not take an arbitrary decision like throwing him out or even try to motivate him, since bank employees do not respond to such things. When I have the inquiry committee report with me, I can decide about suitable action to be taken. Maybe the cashier needs assistance or maybe he was at fault. In this way, I would avoid a strike but send a message to other employees too that I was serious about my job. An arbitrary decision would hurt my credibility and also expose me to risk of union activity. Under the circumstances, an inquiry would buy me time as also serve the purpose. It would also be safe, as my subsequent action would not be criticised, since I was going by the committee recommendations.

Candidate IV: I find that there is nothing much I can do in this situation. Bank managers have few powers over their employees and can neither motivate them nor throw them out. We also have to realise that managers are not responsible for the business of their banks. They have only temporary tenure and promotions are based on length of service. I would thus try to ensure that everything is peaceful during my tenure and no major disruptions take place. My transfer may be due in a few years anyway, so why should I rock the boat? By appointing committees or taking action, I would be unnecessarily spoiling my relations with colleagues and it would also spoil my reputation in the bank. So I would do nothing. I would try to pacify the customer, but if he wants to take the business elsewhere, let him. I would also pacify the cashier but would not take action against him. Wisdom lies in maintaining the status quo, not in rocking the boat. The case says that the bank is nationalised, so that is important. We are not in the private sector where we are responsible. We have to fulfill social responsibility. Employees are important. Moreover, you cannot change the system. So my advice is: do nothing. Just sit tight and wait for your transfer. Maybe it will be to a better place.

Analysis:
We now have different viewpoints, each quite different from the others. The first is to take drastic action, the second to motivate the errant employee, the third to appoint a committee and the fourth, to do nothing. Each has its advantages, as explained. Clearly, there is no one answer or the best solution. But when one makes any recommendation, one must see what impact it will make on the selection panel.

The first response would show that the manager is tough and ruthless, brave and daring. However, it would also show that he does not care about human relations. The second shows that the manager is too concerned with human qualities. He wants to motivate the employee, but that is a long process. The message he would send that he is too soft and does not care about the efficiency in the bank. The third response is to buy time by appointing an enquiry committee. This would make practical sense, though it would show that the manager is indecisive. The last response is perhaps the most practical: given such situations a real bank manager will probably ignore the whole episode. Each response, thus, has its positive points but would send a negative signal too. What would be the best response in this case?

Best response:
It must be understood that any case is a situation and a candidate is not required to show his business acumen or insight. What is required is that the candidate shows some leadership skills and is able to articulate his ideas. We give below a method which would be the best response in doing any case discussion.

The idea is that the candidate must keep the initiative and is able to interject at several points in the discussion. Do not give your viewpoint, no matter how wise you think it is. When you advise a particular piece of action, you immediately paint yourself in a corner from where you have to defend your thoughts without the possibility of shifting your stand later on. There is no point getting into an argument. The best way would be to assume a leadership position and, without committing any course of action, to guide the group. Help it arrive at a consensus. Agree or disagree to others’ viewpoints. After sufficient arguments have been made, take your stand and agree with the group. Your role should be of a facilitator.

Here are the steps you can follow to achieve the above:

Describe the problem.
Ask for different viewpoints.
Identify possible solutions.
Discuss pros and cons of each alternative.
Select the best alternative and agree with it.
Conclude.

By following this strategy, you can make a contribution to any case, even if you do not know anything about it. Start by paraphrasing the case and put in your words, explaining it to others. Stick to the facts mentioned in the case. Having made your introduction, ask for the opinion of others. Do not criticise anybody but help analyse the alternatives. Bring in advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. Having thrashed out all suggestions, help the group select the best one. Agree with the group consensus and conclude, bringing in all the points that were brought up in the case.

You can show your leadership abilities through this strategy. The selection committee would no doubt be impressed by your contribution as also the fact that you are able to guide the group. This would thus be the winning strategy to succeed in any case discussion.

Group Discussion (GD) Tips

The GD is an indicator of the confidence of a person as well as his ability to work in a group. Students are seated in a semicircle. A topic is given and after about a minute or so, the group is asked to proceed. Most discussions last for 10-12 minutes and the group size maybe anything up to 15 people. Some institutes are known to have about students in a group, which makes the task of contributing meaningfully all the more difficult. Almost all students will be anxious to make a mark and sometimes there may be pandemonium. Often, aggressive and loud-mouthed individuals may corner the discussion. One should have a strategy for dealing with such situations too.

There are no fixed rules for a GD. There is usually a scramble to be the first one to speak. The first speaker should mention the topic and make a preface by stating the issues. He should not commit himself but only speak the introduction. Later, one may make some interjections and make one’s stand clear. The group should move towards a consensus but so great is the tension to make one’s point that this may not happen at all. The idea is to exhibit some leadership qualities in steering the group while making one’s contribution.

If the group is too noisy, the facilitator may allot one minute to each candidate to sum up the discussion. This is an opportunity to put on one’s best effort. Without criticising the group, one can sum up and give one’s own views.

How is one rated in a GD? Firstly, a candidate is evaluated on how he speaks. Fluency plays a role here. But this is not enough: what matters is also whether any meaningful contribution was made by the person. Thirdly, a candidate will score if he shows leadership qualities, that is, of guiding the group towards a consensus. It is clear that one should have read a lot if he is to exhibit any depth of knowledge. If you have kept up with the newspapers and magazines, it will certainly be of help. Read carefully the debates and argumentative questions and chances are that you will get one of these topics for discussion. Read also items of economic importance and learn the figures of growth rates, GDP, deficits and so on.

How to contribute in a GD There are always two ways to look at any topic: for or against. Take the example of economic liberalisation. It can be argued that it was a very good thing since a number of foreign companies came into the country, bringing technology and efficiency. Employment and growth rate improved. The people could buy all the world class products which earlier had to be smuggled.

On the other hand, it can also be argued that all kinds of non-essential goods came into the country, like hamburgers, fried chicken and soda water. The infrastructure remained poor. There was no fresh growth as the MNCs simply bought the Indian companies. The technology they imported was outdated and most of the goods were so expensive that most people could not buy them. Liberalisation was trumpeted to be a good thing since politicians were using it to rake in personal wealth.

Whatever personal views one may have, it is important to know both sides of the argument. If the discussion is heading towards a particular direction, a candidate can take a totally opposite view and consequently will become the centre of the discussion. Of course one must be able to defend one’s viewpoints and therefore the need to have read widely. In the case of liberalisation, many people will defend it, since that is the viewpoint most often published in newspapers. If a student can bring in an opposing viewpoint and mention some convincing reasons, there is no reason why he will not be selected.

The trouble is that most students have not faced anything like the GD before. How is one to speak in a group of 15 strangers in a language we do not usually speak? One way is to read about a topic and then debate with parents, uncles or elder cousins. Tell them to ask you questions and try to trap you. The more you do this, the more clear will your own thoughts become. Of course practice in a larger group can be obtained only by joining a professional institute.

Another way to practice is to tape your speech. Try to speak about a topic for one full minute into the tape recorder. When you listen to the tape, you will be able to spot your mistakes, the points on which you falter and the words which you cannot easily speak. You will also be able to know whether you make any sense or not. Ask your friends to listen to the tape critically. Often, people can discover their weaknesses and speech impairments by this method.

You can also use mirror therapy. Stand before a mirror and speak extempore on any topic. Practice sounding assertive and firm. If you think your voice is soft or shrill, especially for girls, speak loudly in front of the mirror as if you are speaking to a stranger. Have a conversation with yourself. The mirror will tell you whether you have a habit of looking away while speaking. It will tell you about your body language also. These will be invaluable insights for participating in groups. You must look at all the members when addressing them. Looking away will cause you to lose your chance and the other person will carry on without letting you complete.

The mirror will also stop you from fidgeting, as many people are prone to do when they are speaking or are nervous. The therapy will be greatly enhanced if you can get your family members or friedns to practice with you.
Interjections

Take care also that you do not stray from the topic. One way to avoid this is to write it down and keep it in front of you. By periodically looking at it, you can arrange your thoughts mentally. Remember that the interjections should always be in the form of a paragraph, not a question. Do not get into cross talk with any person in the group. Do not start quarreling if someone is against your stand. Instead, address the group.

In any GD, a common situation is that everybody wants to speak all at once and some individuals will dominate on account of their loudness. After all, everybody wants to make a mark in the limited time and it is survival of the fittest. Making an interjection at this stage is rather difficult.

Start off with meta-language: “I agree with you, but…” or “We have heard many viewpoints and I would like to say….” Do not lose your cool if nobody listens. It might pay to raise your voice for the opening sentence and then go ahead to make your point. Never criticise. If you do not agree with a particular viewpoint, start with: “You may be right, but I feel….” or even “I agree with you on certain points but there is a contrary opinion that….” Be polite but firm.

A common situation is that whatever points you have thought of have already been said by someone else. Do not become nervous should this happen. Instead, quickly assess the situation and the direction of the discussion. Take a few deep breaths and think whether anything has been missed out or whether you can turn the discussion around. Usually, there is always some uncovered ground and a person can steer the discussion in a new direction. “We have been discussing the positive side of the matter”, you can say. But there is a more serious dimension that we have ignored….” Chances are that you will become the centre of discussion after this. Even if you have not spoken during the first half of the session, you will have turned it around to your advantage.

Assume a leadership role if you do not have much to say. Give a chance to others who have not spoken. Guide the discussion by restoring order. Keep an eye on the time and after 10 minutes or so, begin summing up. This will show your leadership qualities. However, if you do not contribute in any other way, this strategy will not be sufficient to see you through.

Interjections should be made without being rude. Do not cut into mid-sentence. On the other hand, if someone cuts into your speech, politely ask to be heard: “I would like to complete what I was saying….” rather than rudely asking a person to shut up. Sometimes all these rules do not work, especially if the group is a rowdy one. Since it is survival of the fittest, do not be cowed down and make a bold effort to make yourself heard.

Why group discussions?

Most jobs and management schools do not want bookworms, but people who are outgoing and smart as well. Group discussions help check whether a person can articulate his thoughts and hold his ground.

What is observed?
* Leadership skills
* Confidence
* Consideration for others
* Manners
* Aggressive behaviour
* Substantial viewpoints vs frivolous viewpoints

Some common topics for Group Discussions

Reservation for women is desirable
The impact of India’s nuclear tests
Advancement in science would lead to destruction
Who is responsible for ills of our country: politicians or bureaucrats?
Should there be a Presidential form of government?
Management is an art or science?
Are small States preferable to large States?
Is our culture under threat from cable television?
Environment vs development: which is preferable?
The role of multinationals in the economy

How to prepare?
* Form an informal group and discuss serious issues
* Discuss current affairs with parents or elders
* Watch news and current affairs programmes
* Read some good magazines. Read all the discussions featured in The Competition Master in the past months
* Always think of points in favour and against the topic

 

Some important tips
* Always be polite
* Never criticise
* Give others a chance to speak
* Make sure you intervene 4-5 times in the discussion
* Be coherent, make your point and let others discuss
* Do not be aggressive or loud
* Play the leader

Mock Interview

Candidate: Good afternoon, sirs.

Member 1 : Good afternoon. Please sit down.

C: Thank you sir.

M1: You seem nervous. Would you like to have a drink?

C: No thank you sir. I’ll be comfortable.

M1: Tell us something about yourself.

C:Yes, sir. My name is Varun. I have done my B.Com and I am waiting for the results of the final year. My schooling was in Shimla. My father is in the IAS and I have an elder sister who is a doctor.

M1: Your second year marks are less than first year. Will they go down further in the final year?

M2: Didn’t you want to try for IAS? Since your father is a bureaucrat, you could have followed in his footsteps.

C: Let me answer one question at a time. I will take up the second question first. I am not interested in IAS, sir. I was always interested in a career in management. That is why I did my B.Com and fortunately I could get good marks. My father has never pressed us to do IAS but has given us the freedom to choose our career. My sister became a doctor because she wanted to be one. Regarding my marks, during the second year I had to miss classes because I was unwell for a while. However, this year I have put in a lot of effort and I am confident of covering up.

M3: What do you understand by management?

C: There are many definitions, sir. But the simplest one is that it is the art of getting work done from other people.

M3: What do you think are the qualities that a manager should possess?

C: I think that a manager should have planning and organising skills. He should be hard working and honest. Above all, he should have leadership qualities too since he has to manage people and lead by example.

M2: Where did you learn all this?

C: I have not learnt this, sir. Some of it I have studied in B.Com and then I have just gathered my thoughts. I have also read about the examples of successful managers who are featured in business magazines and formed my opinion.

M3: Which of these qualities do you have?

C: I have good organising capabilities. I used to organise many events in school and college. I am also good at planning and since my friends used to like working with me, I can say that I have leadership qualities too.

M2: So you have all the qualities of being a good manager. Tell us, what will you do if we do not take you?

C: I am quite confident that you will take me, sir. But to cover my risks I have applied to a few other institutes too and fortunately have got interview calls from them. As I am keen to do MBA. I am sure to get admission in one at least.

M3: Why, were you not confident that you will get through here?

C: I am confident, sir. But I applied to other institutes just to cover my risks. I did not want to waste an year just in case I missed one institute.

M1: Why only MBA? After B.Com you can become a Chartered Accountant and prove yourself.

C: I feel that Chartered Accountant is limited to finance and accounts. I would like to do something more than that. My background of B.Com has given me an understanding of accounts but I would not like to make it into a career. Management, I feel, is more exciting and one can do much more compared to CA which is limited to one area.

M1: What are the problems that India faces?

C: India is a large country and has many problems. At present the main problem faced by the country is that of instability. The elections gave no majority to any single party so each party is looking for coalitions. We have seen coalition governments in the past and they never seem to work. Secondly, there is the problem about the economy. The previous government kept inflation down by artificial methods which is bound to increase now. Debt has also reached huge proportions which has to be brought down.

M3: Don’t you think the country has social problems?

C: Yes, sir. In fact, there are many social problems we face. There is the problem of dowry, which leads to torture and harassment and even to bride-burning. There is also the problem of female infanticide as people want to have male children only. This is going to skew the sex ratio in the country. Illiteracy, poverty and population growth are some of the other problems.

M2: Can these problems be removed through stability and economic methods?

C: They may not be removed totally, but a stable government will certainly have the time to address these issues. An unstable government will be more concerned about its own survival. There is also a very real danger that an unstable government may take the country backwards, as V.P. Singh had done during his time. He had played the caste card merely to survive, with disastrous consequences. Secondly economic growth can certainly solve our problems of poverty and unemployment. People will have more opportunities and can increase their incomes. In fact, poverty has already come down since the country took up the economic reforms programme, as was claimed by the previous government. If that is true, certainly our problems can be solved to a great extent by economic growth.

M3: But don’t you think that economic growth brings in its own problems? There are many problems in the West which has seen some of the highest growth rates.

C: There are indeed problems which affluence brings. There are social problems there too, besides those of environment degradation.

M3: So what you are saying is that we should get rid of our problems through economic growth and import a new set of problems.

C: No, sir. Fortunately we have the example of the West before us. It is not necessary that we should commit the same mistakes. We can have economic growth combined with traditional knowledge so that we do not get the problems of the West.

M2: What are your hobbies?

C: I like to play games and read books. Another hobby I have is DX-ing, which is tracking radio stations of distant countries.

M2: That’s an unusual hobby. Tell us more about it.

C: Almost all countries broadcast on shortwave. They want to know whether people are actually receiving the broadcast or not. Whenever I have spare time I try to catch unknown stations and send them reception reports. They send an acknowledgement card, called a QSL card. It is a good way of knowing the world and increase one’s knowledge, besides participating in discussions and even learning a foreign language. They often send gifts to regular listeners.

M2: Have you ever got gifts from them?

C: Several times, sir. They send T-shirts, cassettes and books. But the best is if your views are aired by an international radio station.

M3: Which games do you play?

C: I play cricket, sir. These days I get less time but I play whenever I have time.

M2: What was your favourite subject in school?

C: I liked practically all the subjects that we had, but my favourite was English. I loved to read the books prescribed and also borrow from the library.

M3: Who wrote “Gone With the Wind”?

C: Margaret Mitchell.

M3: Why did the book become very famous?

C: It was made into a highly successful film which is still regarded as a classic. The book was a bestseller and thus became very famous.

M2: What are your hobbies?

C: I like to play games and read books. Another hobby I have is DX-ing, which is tracking radio stations of distant countries.

M2: That’s an unusual hobby. Tell us more about it.

C: Almost all countries broadcast on shortwave. They want to know whether people are actually receiving the broadcast or not. Whenever I have spare time I try to catch unknown stations and send them reception reports. They send an acknowledgement card, called a QSL card. It is a good way of knowing the world and increase one’s knowledge, besides participating in discussions and even learning a foreign language. They often send gifts to regular listeners.

M2: Have you ever got gifts from them?

C: Several times, sir. They send T-shirts, cassettes and books. But the best is if your views are aired by an international radio station.

M3: Which games do you play?

C: I play cricket, sir. These days I get less time but I play whenever I have time.

M2: What was your favourite subject in school?

C: I liked practically all the subjects that we had, but my favourite was English. I loved to read the books prescribed and also borrow from the library.

M2: You must have had Shakespeare in school.

C: We studied “Julius Caesar” and “Twelfth Night”. I liked “Julius Caesar” very much, especially since it had those moving speeches. It is also a study in human character. I think these books help you to understand human nature.

M2: Did you not think of doing something which would help you retain touch with reading, since you like it so much?

C: In whatever profession one is in, one can keep up the habit of reading. Even successful managers read a lot. I will keep up this habit even when I graduate.

M1: Has any of your friends also applied here?

C: Yes, sir. One of my best friends has also got a call.

M1: Supposing we had only one seat. Should we take you or your best friend?

C: Ideally, I think you should take both of us. But if there is only one seat, you are the best judge to decide.

M1: But if we left the choice to you, what would you decide?

C: That is really a tough choice, sir. But if you left it to me, I would ask you to take my friend.

M1: Even if it means that you do not get admission?

C: Yes, sir. Friendship means rising above selfishness. If I took the seat that would make me selfish. I am sure to get admission this year. It would be ideal if my friend also got it.

M1: Do you have any weaknesses?

C: Yes, sir. I think everyone has certain weaknesses. I think I am a perfectionist, which sometimes creates problems. But I really cannot help it. I believe that whatever is done should be done well.

M1: Well thank you, Varun.

C: Thank you, sir.

Analysis
Varun was able to defend the questions relating to IAS and Chartered Accountancy well. The answers show that he has thought about them and made up his mind. He also can define management in a concise way, which shows that he has studied his textbooks well. In fact, the student should be well versed with his subjects. Varun also declined politely the drink offered to him. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but if you ask for the drink, chances are that you will not get the time to drink it.

Note how Varun handled the situation when two questions were asked simultaneously. Be careful when you say you have good planning or organising capabilities. The board can well ask why you think so. Do you have the answer? Similarly, the questions related to applying to other institutes are tricky but Varun answered them well. Note that he was well-prepared about the problems faced by the country. But he should not have made statements about coalition government. Avoid getting into controversial areas and playing the caste factor certainly is. But if you feel strongly about it and can defend it forcefully, you can take a chance and mention it.

Fortunately the board moved on to hobbies. Note that Varun had a hobby which was entirely different and he could speak on it. He could also speak on his reading habit. The question on whether his friend should be taken is another tricky one. If you say you should be taken, can you defend it without sounding selfish? The answer to weaknesses was also a satisfactory one.

On the whole, the candidate comes across as mature. He seems to have thought about his answers. He is well prepared and was not trapped in the cross-questioning. If you can’t do so, simply back out and say you are not sure rather than saying something which you cannot defend.

Interviews – What do they look for

Interview, according to Collins Concise English Dictionary, is a formal discussion, especially one in which an employer assesses a job applicant. ‘A formal consultation usually to evaluate qualifications (as of a prospective student or employee)’, defines Webster’s Dictionary. It can be meeting with a candidate to ascertain, by questioning and discussion, letters suitability for a post.

The art of interviewing forms the very basis of the utmost input requirement, in the form of humans, of organisations. The process constitutes an important part of the recruitment procedure.

The interview Board, in the allotted time, has to bring out the best and the worst in the candidates and then arrive at conclusions, most subjectively, on a common-sense basis, since assessing a candidate on each and every attribute infallibly is neither possible nor feasible for the interviewers; rather there are chances of faltering.

To find the ideal candidate for any post is not possible, nor it is easy to define the concept completely in the context of the metamorphosing managerial and administrative values. The best course left to the Board is, therefore, to pick the best of the available candidates; to obviate repetition of the entire gamut of the selection procedure. This holds good, more often than not, in the case of selections for senior positions.

Often for the purpose, the Board evolves a check-list, an exhaustive but practical one, where-under ratings are accorded for different personality traits. Experience has shown that this strategy works quite satisfactorily in all types of interviews.

The undermentioned can be the tentative parameters for the Board to look for its picks; not necessarily in the same order or weightage, for they may vary from post to post and from organisation to organisation, depending upon their needs.

The candidate, prima facie, ought to have the needed potential and keenness for the purpose of being developed into a better one, in the near future, and on, to impart benefits to the organisation, for it spends its resources on the new incumbent with an eye for good returns.

Self-acceptance of the past failures, if any, by the candidate will prove an asset, a qualification. It will speak of his frankness and will inculcate value ethics in management – compelling need of the hour the world over.

The candidate should be able to ‘look within’ as Christ has said, in the face of taking decisions, especially when confronting with hard situations. He must have a clear vision of himself and of the assignments required to be accomplished. As a matter-of-fact, his performance itself is a perennial source of inspiration to him; a source of fulfillment and pleasure; and a robust antidote to (counter) the stress, both in his personal and official life.

To be receptive and considerate to the aspirations and expectation of colleagues is the need of the time. The Selection Board therefore, looks for such a possibility and potential in the prospective candidate. Not only that, the ability to inspire confidence among the staff, while inter-acting with them, is also a prerequisite to be searched and found out by the interviewers.

Another sought-after trait is candidate’s ability to communicate not only his ability to express, as is generally mixed up. For this purpose, the interviewers have to try for all the essential parameters of a good communicator viz; logical flow of thoughts, direction in the needed side for the needed purpose, maturity in expression and communication, ability to listen and the art of a rational persuasiveness in arriving at the right decisions and passing on the instructions germane thereto to achieve the results. The art of communication is the hub of successful and result-oriented human relations.

The candidate should evince an abiding interest in updating his knowledge to qualify for being selected by the Board. Especially, such a policy plank is more needed when the interview is for the selection of a specialist. Both depth and breadth of the candidate’s knowledge are indicators to his intellectual seasoning.

The candidate is expected, rather is required, to exercise self-check in all situations that he will face in his would- be organisation. He is to be assessed on his ability to shoulder both, praise and criticism, success and failure, authority and responsibility, with equanimity. Self-control, self-management, shedding of false egos are the time-tested recipes for successful managers, together with courage and conviction, backed-up, nevertheless, by firmness of action. A stiff and artificial stance will never be appreciated by the Board.

And over-zealousness in conduct may also jeopardise the chances of being selected. If not checked, temperament can always sway away one’s decisions to an unwanted level of human relations, which may turn out to be a point of no-return. On part of the candidate, the deepest mental posture, even if provoked during the course of interview by the Board members, is sure to carry the day. This will help him give balanced answers to the satisfaction of the interviewers.

The interviewers end up, with the best available of the lot: the near-ideal; but not the ideal.

Some Frequently asked Questions in Selection Interviews
Tell us about yourself.
Why do you want to do this course/job?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Who is your role model and why?]
What do you think about the current economic/political situation?
What are your hobbies?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If you are not taken, what will you do?
Questions about your background and academic record.
Questions about your habits, likes and dislikes.

First Impressions
Prepare for the interview:
Do not leave preparation for the interview for the last stage, or hope to say anything that comes to your mind at the moment. Developing confidence is a long-term process. Make it a point to discuss issues with family and friends. Carry your certificates in a file. Make it a habit to read extensively. This will prepare you for the interview.

Dress formally: Be neat. Boys should make sure they are shaved while girls can apply a light make-up. Well groomed hair, cleanliness, polished shoes are some essentials. Avoid jewellery, trendy clothes and casuals such as jeans. Formal dress should be worn: keep a suit away for special occasions and do not wear your everyday clothes for the interview.

Be on time: Err on the side or caution. Take a bus to the destination a few days before the final day. If that is not possible, allow yourself adequate time to find the place or unforeseen circumstances such as traffic jams. If you are early, do not go directly to the office but to a nearby restaurant and have something to eat.

When you enter: Greet the interviewer by saying, “Good morning, sir”. Do not be over-friendly. Do not sit down until asked. Sit straight and do not fold your arms. Look in the interviewer’s eye while answering questions.

Avoid controversy: Always stick to the subject, without giving opinions. Do not be critical of your institute or past employer. If you do not know a particular question, say, “I don’t know, sir.”

Listen carefully: Pause before answering a question to gather your thoughts. Listening will help you realise what the interviewer wants. Do not ramble or use long-winded examples.

Be pleasant: Keep a cheerful disposition, do not contradict the interviewer even if he is wrong, keep a pleasant outlook. Do not be funny, though one can be witty.

Tricky situations: If you are nervous, admit it. Stay calm, even if provoked. Of course, one cannot anticipate all questions so be ready for some surprises, too.

 

Essay: Panchayati Raj in India

In the original Constitution of India, under Article 40, there was just a directive to take steps to organize village Panchayats and delegate them with appropriate powers to allow them to work as units of self-government. However, the said Directive was not taken very seriously by the political powers and Panchayti Raj in India could not be institutionalized.

In 1993, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was passed that gave a Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. The Act also withdrew the discretion that the State governments had in matters of several important matters related to functioning of PRIs.

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Useful for Civil Services Mains exam, Descriptive Questions asked in RBI and Bank exams

Essay-Plant Genomics need of the hour – Based on question asked in Civil Services Mains exam

Along human history, more than 7000 plant species have been collected or cultivated by humans. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, about a 95% of human caloric needs are provided by only 30 crops plants, and four of them are responsible for more than the 60% of human ingested calories (wheat, rice, maize and potatoes).

The Green Revolution was the first attempt to use new technology to increase food production—it helped to increase food production by 250% between 1950 and 1984. In 1943, most of the world was hungry and a Malthusian catastrophe was being visualized—many people believed that world population would grow exponentially and the agriculture production would not be sufficient to feed, thus producing famine. In Mexico, the government thought that the solution was in the technology and they created the CIMMYT. Using fungicides, fertilizers and plant breeding with Japanese dwarf wheat varieties, the wheat production in Mexico was multiplied and Mexico became a self-sufficient country.

The same scheme was then translated to India and some other Asia countries with success. Africa did not benefit much from the Green Revolution, particularly because of the lack of irrigation facilities. The methods of the Green Revolution were criticized later by environmentalists, but the truth is that it helped to reduce the world hunger and Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contribution to the fight against world famine.

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