Most people know focus group discussions (FGDs) as research tools, but they've become an integral step in assessment centers, recruitment tests, as well as business competitions. During FGDs, the participants are given a brief, and then asked to come up with a feasible solution to the highlighted issue by having a discussion amongst each other.
FGDs give you a glimpse of both the participant's knowledge and how they are likely to fare in a discussion with diverse individuals.
According To Rawnak Zaheen Wasi, Global Graduate-Human Resource at BAT, “These sort of discussions are frequent in everyday corporate environment, where you have to deal with a wide variety of stakeholders. FGDs try to gauge how you would behave in such an environment by identifying your key personality traits, negotiation approach and technical acumen, among other things. Most importantly it looks at whether you can drive decision-making within a time bound environment and persuade others logically and rationally to accept your viewpoint.”
So rather than testing some specific technical knowledge, these discussions are aimed at looking at your ability to team up with others who wouldn't typically or easily agree with you. It's a good measure of your actual ability, since it's hard to fake or specifically prepare for, allowing authenticity in results.
Do’s Understand the brief
It's crucial that you read the brief carefully, and understand what is required. Diligently note down important details, because it will come in handy when you're trying to persuade the group to agree with your opinions and combat opposing ones.
Talk about and defend your statements, but also listen to what the others have to say. Engage with them, and use your own reasoning to show how you agree or disagree with their points.
A lot of brilliant people don't do well in FGDs because they are afraid of being wrong or being judged by the others, and thus don't speak out. So, don't waste the opportunity, express your views, and defend them.
FGDs aren't just about loudly expressing why you're right, it also shows your leadership and teamwork abilities. So, try to find out who is great at doing what within the team, and make sure people are playing to their strengths. Use the creative person to push in disruptive ideas, use the numbers guy to see if the solutions are financially feasible. Try and identify what the team must achieve, and try to align the team towards that central purpose or goal.
Don'ts Be rude
Don't shout, don't be unnecessarily aggressive. Be politely assertive. Don't interrupt or cut off others while they are speaking. Keep adequate space and opportunity for everyone to feel connected and included in the decision making. A lot of people try to impress the judges by staying fixed on their opinion, without really listening to others. This is a big no-no.
Stand out negatively:
Don't try to play smart by repeating previously uttered smart ideas using different synonyms or loudly exclaiming buzzwords or directional statements. People who are judging your FGD have judged hundreds before. They know exactly what you are doing.
Tashfia Mamun is a final year business student and an avid dog lover. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org