Hi in 2 days I will be evaluated by a team of psychologists who will test my maths and english skills, look at my 360 feedback results and then put a group of us together to debate a topic of their choice while we are observed.


I am mainly worried by the observed debate. What kind of preparation should I do and how should I behave during the discussion?

GlennR's picture

  1. I would be myself
  2. I would listen first, then talk (specifically, seek to clarify by rephrasing or asking questions)
  3. I would not be afraid to use humor, when appropriate
STEVENM's picture

It sounds like this has passed already (how did it go?) but in case it's a situation that's common I'll pipe up on the debate front.  It used to be a hobby of mine.

The debate sounds like a way to test your communication skills in a meeting-like setting.  I'm assuming you come from another culture?  So general guidelines I'd give would be:

Winning the debate is unimportant.  If you have an opinion on the topic there's a 50/50 shot you'll be assigned to the side you disagree with.  Don't worry about it, but give it your all.  The exercise is just a way to get at "Can this person understand those around him, work with them, be respectful, etc."  Dive into the exercise but don't worry about the result.

If this is a formal debate, obey the rules, respect the time you're given, etc. They're there for a reason. If it's a more casual debate, less about structure and more about the meeting-like environment of having to make a decision, you will look like a hero if you do set some ground rules. I wouldn't pipe up and say "Ok, let's observe this list of rules." Instead ask for input on rules. "Ok, so we should probably set some guidelines so everyone gets to speak their mind and things stay organized. Any ideas on those?"  You'll look considerate of everyones time, and you'll look like a leader who listens.

I would avoid humor.  It sounds like this is the situation you're in:  Different culture, different 1st language.  If the cultures are different your humor may not translate well.  It doesn't really matter in the external sense... I mean, I can't tell a good joke to save my life but I have plenty of awful ones.  It hasn't hurt me.  But it can throw you off your game to not get a response in a setting like that.  Don't sweat it if it happens, but I'd try to minimize it just for your own peace of mind.

Be polite.  Be friendly.  Smile at people.  Be respectful and avoid interrupting.

Do not be afraid to ask questions.  I think my biggest fear if I were in your shoes would be to look like I didn't understand things.  But you'll do better in any debate if you're inquisitive at every opportunity.  And it makes you look better in the long run because the better you understand something the better you'll do at debating it.

Debate traps:

--If you are out to win it, the easiest position to be in during debate is that of counterpuncher. They state an argument, you break it down. That's because no argument is perfect, all you have to do is find one crack and hammer at it.  But that is a trap. You don't want to be the guy who tears things down. That doesn't mean pull punches. Make your points. Just don't be 'that guy'. That guy may win an argument, but he doesn't build bridges or look good to people.--

--On the opposite side, it is impossible to come up with a position in a few minutes, days, weeks, or even months that is unbreakable. When holes get poked in your arguments don't scramble to immediately fill them in. If you have a good and well thought out response to what someone says and the opportunity is there, sure.   And you should address what is brought up.  You should be given time to think and rebut. But don't get so caught up on having that perfect position that you go on the defensive forever. You'll be more likely to be perceived as not feeling comfortable with what you've explained so far.--