The next step to preliminaries is always crucial. Be a good listener and observer, keeping your problem-solving abilities, firmly in place. A brief introduction to put the new group at ease is given by the Group Testing Officer (GTO). To form the group the candidates are also asked to speak about themselves.
Having completed the preliminaries, the GTO introduces the first task, Group Discussion (GD). Candidates are seated in a circle or in U shape for easy interaction. They speak in freely exchanging ideas on a given topic. It’s a leaderless task. Topics given are of average nature which take into consideration the level of knowledge expected of each group. The topic needs to be current in context and controversial in nature to explore the extent of the convincing ability of the candidates. What matters is the contents and art of persuasion.
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Interpersonal behaviour is also observed. The topic is discussed for 15-20 minute so that everyone gets an opportunity to express his views. The candidates should try to enhance their knowledge on all current provincial, national or international issues by reading newspapers, reviews and indulging in discussions.
During discussions be courteous, listen to other’s views, counter the arguments by better facts, figures, data etc rather than raising the voice, casting aspersions on others, hogging the discussion etc. Since it is the preliminary stage of observation by GTO he also gets a basic impression of the individuals in the group. So if a candidate feels that he has not been able to do well to impress others in the group/GTO, he should put in efforts to do so in the 2nd round.
Group planning excercise (GPE)
In this task GTO is checking not only the understanding of problems but also its successful solution by the candidate. GTO first explains the area of story with the help of Board/Chart/Sand model on which the story area is marked. He then reads out a situational story from a story card pointing out relevant features on the board.
Candidates are given the story and get 10 minutes to write down the solutions to the problems they find in the story. This written solution of the candidate is evaluated by GTO. Attention to details like time and distance involved, understanding of problems and their gravity etc are important aspects that are being checked. After the written solution being taken by GTO, candidates are given 10-15 minutes to discuss amongst themselves and evolve a group solution. The representative then gives the group solution. The story given in the problem is so designed that no special knowledge is required by the group.
Candidates must find out what are the problems and then priorities them to solve them, they must check what resources in men, material, facilities, means of communication etc are available and how best to utilise them.
The activity in the story and the problems are normal problems encountered in real life. It is also so designed that at least three different solutions to the problems are possible. There is also a distraction given in the story, which is neither too simple nor too serious but is strong enough to lead less discriminatory candidates astray. Candidates must follow a simple system for this exercise. First, they must find out what are the problems and then priorities them to solve them, they must check what resources in men, material, facilities, means of communication etc are available and how best to utilise them.
All problems are to be solved simultaneously by detailing a group for each problem. Thereafter each problem is dealt with as per priority by giving how many people will go for that problem. How will they go? What is the time, distance involved? And what exactly was done to solve the problem. Having resolved all the problems it should not be forgotten that in the story the group had gone for a job and that should be done.
During the discussion, one problem at a time should be solved by discussing. Disagreements in number of people for the job, route and means should be resolved by discussions. Once the group solution is made by consensus or by majority, one candidate gets up and gives the solution. Candidates must strive to coordinate the discussion and evolve group solution.
—The author is presently Director (Training & Placement) at an Engineering College