The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania sent out Round 1 interview invitations on October 28, and once again, the school is using its team-based discussion format rather than a traditional admissions interview to evaluate its candidates. This year, Wharton announced that all Round 1 (2020) Team-Based Discussions will be held virtually.
Understandably, Wharton applicants get anxious about this atypical interview because the approach creates a very different dynamic from what one usually encounters in a one-on-one meeting—and with other applicants also in the virtual meeting room, one cannot help but feel less in control of the content and direction of the conversation. Yet despite the uncertainty, here are a few things that interviewees can expect:
- You will need to arrive at the interview with an idea—a response to a challenge that will be presented in your interview invitation.
- Having the best idea is much less important than how you interact with others in the group and communicate your thoughts. So while you should prepare an idea ahead of time, that is only part of what you will be evaluated on.
- Your peers will have prepared their ideas as well. Chances are that ideas will be raised that you know little or nothing about. Do not worry! The admissions committee members are not measuring your topical expertise. Instead, they want to see how you add to the collective output of the team.
- After the team-based discussion, you will have a short one-on-one session with someone representing Wharton’s admissions team. More than likely, you will be asked to reflect on how the team-based discussion went for you; this will require self-awareness on your part.
The following are best practices for preparing your TBD pitch:
- Choose an idea that interests you. Fleshing out your idea is much easier when you are passionate about or at least really interested in it.
- When you present your pitch, think of your audience. Avoid repeating the prompt and instead use vivid details with clear, easy-to-grasp descriptions to illustrate your proposal. Make your teammates want to learn more!
- Wharton provides a time limit for your pitch (typically one minute). Do not exceed this time limit!
- Do not suggest an idea that already exists at Wharton. Spend time on the school’s web site to familiarize yourself with the current offerings so you do not accidentally propose something that is already an option.
- Do not try to impress the group with your Wharton knowledge. Briefly referencing one or two things you know about Wharton that are relevant to the conversation is okay, but the TBD is not a test to see how well you know the program, so keep such mentions brief and to the point.
To give candidates the opportunity to undergo a realistic test run before experiencing the actual event, we at mbaMission created our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation. Via this simulation, applicants participate anonymously with three to five other MBA candidates in an online conversation, which is moderated by two of our experienced Senior Consultants familiar with Wharton’s format and approach. All participants then receive feedback on their performance, with special focus on their interpersonal skills and communication abilities. The simulation builds confidence by highlighting your role in a team, examining how you communicate your ideas to—and within—a group of (equally talented) peers and discovering how you react when you are thrown “into the deep end” and have to swim. Our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation allows you to test the experience so you are ready for the real thing.
To learn more or sign up for a session, visit mbaMission’s Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation page.