How to Tackle Unknown Topic in a Group Discussion?

Oct 12, 2021

Group Discussion (GD) an integral and common part of the hiring process of organizations and admission process of educational institutes. Corporate companies and educational institutes extensively use GD as an evaluation tool to judge the professional skill of the candidate such as leadership quality, interpersonal communication skills, social, politeness and behavioral skills, listening ability, General awareness, confidence, problem tackling skills, etc. GD is very effective while processing a larger pool of talents in a less time consuming and cost effective.

In general, in a GD, there are 6-10 candidates and they are given a topic and 10-15 minutes time to discuss on that particular topic. While commonly the topics are on recent news or well established facts, there's no well defined boundary. As a result, the GD topic can be anything and unknown topics in a GD is not unusual. Even though this is something the candidates fear the most in a group discussion, the candidates have to overcome the challenge to get an interview call. We will few strategies that candidates can use if they face a unknown topic in a GD.

Listen and take notes
If you are given a topic in the GD about which you don't know anything. While this is not an ideal situation, you still need to be patient and calm. You have to showcase a confident and positive body language. GD is not only about speaking. Another major quality you should have is that you should be a good listener. It's well said that "when you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new." Similarly, if you do not have much information about the given topic, you need to listen to others for initial 3-4 minutes. However, you can not afford to wait much longer to avoid late participation. While you listening to others, it is recommended that you take notes of the ongoing discussion. Always stay confident and try to connect the dots in order to develop a better understanding of the given topic.

Come up with in-depth Analysis
Try to relate the information that you have learnt while listening to others with the information and facts that you already know. Now it is your time to present yourself with confidence and zeal with an in-depth analysis of the topic. Always present your ideas and knowledge with relatable examples and facts. For example, you can share a PESTLE analysis of the given topic.

Present an Action Plan
If you do not have facts and example for the given topic, another thing you can do is to share a logical implementation plan or action plan. This is very useful for opinion seeking or factual topics. While discussing the implementation or action plan focus on impacts on different stakeholders, advantages and disadvantages, challenges and limitation of the plan. This will separate you from the crowd.

Participate in Similar Activities
If you want to improve your skills, then you should participate in extempore, Just a minute or JAM, debates and mock GD sessions as much as you can. These activities will help to build confidence soft skills, communication skills and enhance your performance. This will also help you to improve your general awareness and knowledge regarding various topics.

It is difficult to tackle an unknown GD topic when a dream job or dream college admission is at stake. However, you have to participate and ace the the Group Discussion process to get your interview call or admission offer. Don't panic if you have to tackle an unknown topic in GD. Keep calm and focus how you can contribute to the discussion despite the disadvantage. GD is mostly an elimination tool so you just need to survive the GD to get selected for the next process. However, you should prepare the common GD topics to maximize your chances.

To summarize, you should to do the following to tackle an unknown topic in group discussions.

  • Do not Panic!
  • Be Confident. Do not the give the impression that you are clueless
  • Listen to others for initial 3-4 minutes to understand the topic and take notes
  • Try to relate the topic to things you already know
  • Share in-depth analysis and action plan (you may use PESTLE framework)
  • Participate in similar activities like extempore to help you prepare
  • Prepare the common GD topics
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