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By : sunil chadha, Brigadier General Staff (Information Warfare), Army
Industry : Executive Search Functional Area : Organizational Development
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Activity:  1 comments  310 views  last activity : 08 17 2010 16:24:29 +0000
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(From my experiences, discussions, notes and thoughts. Sunil Chadha)

“Selection” is a process that man has been subjected to from the moment he appeared on the earth - he is also likely to continue being subjected to the process as long as he exists.  Man has the unique ability to cognitively choose and select.

A look through history shows how selection methods have varied from the quick and arbitrary, to the detailed, lengthy and objective; from the unscientific to the scientific.  The aim of a scientific selection system is to choose the right person for the right job.  Selection based on suitability gained acceptance also because it gave a fair chance to compete for a job.  Psychology, as a science, attempted to solve certain selection problems and the techniques evolved were not only found to be more effective, but they also helped reduce wastage.

The main advantage of psychological methods of selection is that they do not merely differentiate the good from the bad, but they can also classify those in between; in order of merit.  If the functional ability, skills and the temperaments required for a particular job are identified, then selection amounts to measurement of these criterions to decide suitability.  Group testing is one of the tools of studying behavior and the hence the qualities of a man.  It gathers strength from the fact that in its application it can lay claim to impartiality, a satisfactory degree of objectivity, and a fairly uniform standard of assessment.  Group discussions, like other group testing procedures, have their foundations in sound psychological principles.

Rationable Of Group Testing

The development and growth of personality is the result of its passing from family to school and neighborhood, and ultimately to the community as a whole.  Some of these dynamic and interactive environments through which an individual journeys, tend to inhibit personality in their own unique ways; others expand it, but all modify and shape it.  An individual in isolation probably does not exist. Whether we study the behaviour of a man in a laboratory, a clinic, or in a crowd, we are really studying the behaviour of a man as influenced by his perception of the social world. A study of personality of individuals in relationship with their social surroundings, therefore, gathers support.

The group testing approach emphasizes the need to study not the static pattern of individuals, but to analyse and interpret the dynamics of inter-relationships; to consider not merely a man’s conscious appreciation of a situation, but his total adjustment to it.  This widened concept of studying personality, therefore, concerns itself not merely with a man as a solitary organism but as a member of a group interacting continuously with the group in which he finds himself - influencing them and being influenced by them.  It therefore becomes, from the study of a man in depth, to a study of a man as a participating member of a social field.

To be individual it is necessarily to be different. One can only be different only if one has something to be different “from”, - someplace to be different “in”, - and someone to differ “with”. Far from a dichotomy, the group and the individual are interdependent; and without that interdependence there can be no individuality.

Importance Of Group Discussion As A Selection Tool

The group discussion is probably one of the simplest leaderless group tasks that can be organised.  For its organisation it requires little in terms of material resources and preparation by the assessors. It gains strength from the fact that it allows the assessors enormous flexibility (depending upon the selection criterion) and gives the assessors a fairly balanced look at the personality of the group members.

The essence of the group discussion is that it is undirected, the conversation is allowed to follow its own spontaneous directions - the group is left to initiate the discussion, to cope with the problems that arise and to share the stresses. Spontaneity encourages the individuals to behave as they naturally would, and this gives the assessor the data he is looking for.

A group discussion permits interplay between situational and personal factors.  The behaviour of the subjects is guided partly by their initial dispositions and partly by the need to accommodate others’ dispositions and the dynamic situations arising.  Interdependent in both the aspects of their situation and in the dispositions, they make adjustments and counter adjustments in their behaviour.  The dynamics of their adjustment and counter adjustment are on display. In doing so they develop a scenario wherein relationships develop and mature.  It is for these reasons that a simple tool like the group discussion has found an important place in the assessment processes all over the would.  In gives the assessor a fairly wide spectrum assessment with relatively very little effort and with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

What a Group Discussion May Reveal

It would not be strictly true to say that one can observe personality during a group discussion. It is rightly said that, “personality is not the mechanical summation of the qualities.  It is, instead, the product of the integration of these qualities”. Then again would one really see qualities as separate identifiable attributes ? It is quite unlikely that an individual would go about indicating his confidence or the level of his initiative by any direct means.  It is more likely that the ‘levels’ of various qualities will have to be interpreted from his behaviour. The qualities and their levels can then be re-integrated to get a measure of the individual’s personality as a whole.  If this were the line of assessment to be followed then one must understand the behavioural manifestations that one is most likely to observe during group discussions.  Some values would come as direct “observations”, while others will have to be deduced from the “recordings".

The manner of a candidate’s contribution to the discussion is probably more important than its content in so far as it projects his interpersonal attitudes and group effectiveness.  One notes the extent to which a candidate brings others, particularly the shy and inhibited, into the discussion, or de-tenses the group at moments of conflict by constructive humour, tact, or any other relevant ploy. One notes whether an individual shares or monopolizes the discussion, raises the level of discussion or lowers it, is predominantly purposefulness or is disruptive and cold. The “content of a candidate’s” contribution will give the observer an idea of his intellectual level but one must guard against hasty decisions as so short a sample by itself may not be sufficient for conclusive assessments either of intellect or of personality.

No exhaustive lists can ever be prepared to indicate what a group discussion may reveal - nor the interpretations be strictly compartmentalized. Some times a behavioral response may be interpreted into more than one quality.  The most common manifestations may be listed, but the experienced assessor can pick up many more and use them for highly objective interpretations and accurate assessment.

Lastly, to re-emphasize, whereas the content of a candidate’s contribution may lead to inferences regarding his intellectual abilities, the manner of his participation will lead to assessment of his behaviour, temperament and personality.

  Commented by  Renne Sharma, HR Analyst, ABC Consulting    | 08 07 2010 08:19:54 +0000
Nice article ...... will help to know the importance of GD.... :)              

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