Jul 20, 2012
43
2
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
I posted in the specific school forum but thought I'd ask here too to see if anyone has more tips for me.

I'm applying to university of Texas in Austin and they are doing a group discussion on an ethical question as part of the interview. I interviewed with them last year (obviously I didn't get in) and want as much tip/info I can to prepare for this portion. The group discussion is new so I can't really ask a student/alumni for tips. I did have a group discussion as part of another school's interview last year and I felt like I had a hard time speaking because I just couldn't find the right time to interrupt and I didn't want to be rude. I'm going to man(?) up a little more and try not to worry about being rude... I'm going to try to lead but easier said than done.

Pretty please with cherry on top, will you share your experience or tips on how to be a leader in group discussions?

Thanks in advance! Good luck to everyone who is applying this year!
 

Sugoi Travis

7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2012
719
176
Status
Pharmacist
I did have a group discussion as part of another school's interview last year and I felt like I had a hard time speaking because I just couldn't find the right time to interrupt and I didn't want to be rude. I'm going to man(?) up a little more and try not to worry about being rude... I'm going to try to lead but easier said than done.
Please do not try to not worry about being rude. Interrupting and getting control-freaky in an interview is probably going to do you more harm than good. I'd say just go in knowing what you know, bring up valid points, talk only when you know that your information brings stuff on the table and such will get you noticed a lot more than interrupting other people and acting like a control-freak.

I know I'm over-exaggerating, but I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say.
 

Pojman

Level 99 Alchemist
Mar 16, 2011
582
6
Status
The group portion of the interview is not about leading. It is about showing that you can participate in a group and offer some sort of benefit.

When I went into the group interview, I did not think to prepare at all. I just sat down and discussed a topic with a group. It really is not that intense.

During my last group interview, there was a small break with my group before the interview. We all talked a bit about the group setting and someone brought up to make sure and let everyone have some time to talk. That helped a lot. If you get the opportunity, try to have that discussion first.
 

DrDrugs2012

5+ Year Member
Feb 8, 2011
416
87
Status
Basic Rules to Follow for Group Interviews

1) Its All About You, Not About The Others
At no point are the interviewers comparing students. Seasoned interviewers know that comparing applicants on the basis of their responses to open ended questions is both trivial and quite impossible. Every applicant, indeed every individual, has a different approach to a problem or a different perspective on an issue - the very core of diversity in academics. Trying to determine which applicant is superior on the basis of an opinion in a brief encounter is counterproductive. Ergo, you are not judged on a "curve" but purely on the basis of whether you did or did not meet the interviewers expectations.

2) A Closed Mouth Gathers No Foot
Whether it is an open, free-form discussion or a firing squad type interview where every applicant is posed a question in turn, it is perfectly acceptable to have no meaningful response if you truly have nothing productive to add to the conversation. Applicants often feel pressured to contribute so the interviewers think you have something valuable to offer the school - bzzzz. Incorrect! It is okay to say "I agree with _____. (His/her) approach to the problem is a strong one because _____."

3) Neither The First Voice Nor Loudest Is The Leader

Schools are looking for leaders who are willing to nudge the profession forward from that of product delivery to service delivery. This requires outspoken individuals with innovative ideas and the leadership skills to convince others of the superiority and necessity of their ideas. Demonstrating this is difficult in a short interview but it does not mean you need to raise your hand to answer first. A wise student would rather take time to formulate a strong response, building upon the information provided by the other applicants using supporting or contrasting perspective.

4) Beware Of The Kansas City Shuffle
Interviewers know in every group there are a couple applicants who feel the need to answer first, some who need a nudge to answer anything at all, and some in between. Good interviewers will ask seemingly simple questions, coaxing the poor thinkers into blurting out obvious answers. Meanwhile the question is actually incredibly nuanced requiring critical thinking skills and the students who take time, trying to identify a "different" response from their overeager counterparts may arrive upon the conclusion that there is no easy answer. Many of these questions are open ended questions modeled after GMAT "data insufficiency" problems.

5) Decorum, Procedure, And All Things Collegial
No schools wants the student who belittles his competition, maintains an inferiority (or superiority) complex, or is outright rude for no apparent reason. Pharmacy school is the end of the line for most of its applicants - this means that upon graduation, you will be colleagues not only with your pharmacy school class but with your professors. You have undoubtedly had a conversation among several friends in your life - not all of your conversations have been one on one. Use normal social cues as roadsigns into when you should or should not engage the conversation. Speak confidently but not arrogantly. Think before you speak. Do not speak ten words when five would do. Give others the opportunity to contribute.