General Conversations

The topics that generally appear in group discussions, interviews, declamation contests, and panel discussions are most-often related to current affairs, social issues, or topics of global concern. However, of late, it has also been observed that the topics in essay-writing contests and article-writing rounds of B-schools’ selection process are centered on abstract topics that set free the imagination of the applicants.

In one of the XAT exams, the entrance exam conducted by the premier institute, Xavier Labor Relations Institute, the topic of essay revolved around Beauty. In 1996, the topic of essay round in XAT was “There Is No Right Way of Doing a Wrong Thing”. In such cases, the writer is free to imagine situations, come up with ideas from diverse spheres of life, and be creative with the subject matter.

The Non-abstract Topic Dilemma

While abstract topics are a favorite for recruiters who are interviewing candidates for operations-related jobs, panelists recruiting for managerial positions tend to stress on nonabstract, serious topics. The topics generally revolve around social, environmental, political issues, in which the candidate is expected to back up his statements with facts and figures. The discussion doesn’t have much scope for creative thoughts, unless of course it’s a hypothetical scenario.

In group discussions, it is normally observed that topics are a mix and match of serious and abstract topics. The speakers can be given any topic and the conclusion always does not matter. However, in business discussions, the aim is to always reach a conclusion.

Group Discussions

Addressing the Issue

To cover these two areas, we will bifurcate our discussion and this tutorial will first touch upon the preparation for serious or non-abstract topics. The other half will be devoted to abstract topics. Please note that the techniques for abstract topics and non-abstract topics are sometimes interchangeable. There is no hard and fast rule to adhere to a single technique for each of the two different types of topics. The task at hand is to generate ideas and to stand out of the crowd when faced with a topic.

It is important to note that there can be many other classifications of topics as well. However, for the sake of simplicity and for covering all types of topics under minimum number of umbrellas, we will discuss only two types of topics – viz. non-abstract and abstract.