Wharton Team Based Discussion (TBD) interview invitations will be released on Friday, February 17. If you are lucky enough to receive an invitation, congratulations!
The harder part comes next – planning for this unique experience. The group interview causes anxiety for many MBA applicants. Once again, Wharton will be conducting virtual interviews this time around, adding to candidate apprehension.
To help candidates prepare for this unique experience, Personal MBA Coach will be offering à la carte Wharton group interview sessions (see below for details), providing candidates a unique opportunity to practice for this difficult interview. We have a former Wharton Admissions Director and former Wharton TBD interviewers to conduct these sessions! You can practice with an interviewer who has evaluated countless applicants at Wharton and knows exactly how to help you ace the TBD. Last year, 84% of our interviewees were accepted!
While group interviews require additional preparation, with the proper practice and planning they actually can be easier than an individual interview. Personal MBA Coach is here to answer a few of your most pressing questions!
What exactly is the Wharton TBD?
The Wharton TBD is required for all candidates invited to interview and includes the following three components:
- Each candidate gives a one-minute introduction to the group, providing everyone an opportunity to get to know one another (this is the first 5 minutes).
- Introductions are followed by a 35-minute team discussion, based on a topic Wharton releases in advance, during which you present the results of your discussion to the interviewers. Part of this is delivering your “pitch” and part is the broader team chat.
- The group exercise is followed by a brief, individual 1:1 interview to discuss a couple of aspects of your profile and your interest in Wharton.
How should I approach a group interview?
Tip 1. Do not be the loudest one on the screen.
Many candidates attempt to stand out by dominating the conversation. We do not advise this approach. The group interview is a great way for Wharton to assess how a candidate is likely to act in classroom discussions and during group meetings. Admissions committee members are looking for leaders who are able to actively contribute, but they are not interested in someone who will talk over their peers and force their opinions on others.
Tip 2. Do not be a wallflower.
While you do not want to dominate, you also should not be the quietest one on the screen. It is important to ensure that your opinions and voice are heard. This means that you need to strike a delicate (but difficult) balance—which is even more complicated on screen where it is harder to read subtle cues from other participants.
Tip 3. Look for ways to add to an idea as opposed to contradicting it.
You do not have to be the one with the most unique idea or divergent position to stand out. Top leaders collaborate with their teams, and this skill is equally important in the business school classroom. Looking for ways to build off another idea or suggestion will show the evaluator that you know how to work with a team or a group. Think about where you can add the “and” instead of the “but” or the “or” here.
Tip 4. Respect your peers.
Particularly in the current climate, this should go without saying. Remain open to diverse points of view. Bringing in observations does not mean debunking what others have to say. If you disagree with someone in the group, be respectful and politely add another perspective without being critical or rude.
Tip 5. Do your research and plan ahead.
As with any other interview, adequate preparation is key. Wharton will release the topic in advance, giving candidates the opportunity to prepare for the TBD. Heed this advice and arrive with specific and well-researched talking points. However, also be prepared to pivot as needed.
What advice do you have for virtual interviewing?
To help you prepare for some of the unique challenges of a virtual interview, Personal MBA Coach reached out to former MBA Admissions Interviewers on our team, including MJ Shores, a former Wharton Admissions Director and Personal MBA Coach consultant, for their top tips!
1) Look into the camera or webcam, which is often placed higher than the normal vision. In addition, practice your set up with a friend or family member in advance of the interview to make sure the equipment is staged properly and functioning. Finally, be careful when using virtual backgrounds. Depending upon the video capabilities of your system, virtual backgrounds can place a strain on the system and make either the person’s head or the background fade in and out. – Former Wharton Admissions Director
2) Treat a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person interview – dress as you would if you were going in person, have a quiet and clean space with good lighting in which to conduct your interview, and of course, be on time! – Former Dartmouth Tuck Admissions Interviewer
3) It is crucial to emote a bit more on virtual interviews since you do not have the nonverbal cues you would have in person. Be sure to modulate how quickly you are speaking, pause at the right time, smile and express excitement. While using hand motions can be great, avoid too much movement, which can be even more distracting on virtual interviews. – Former Yale SOM Admissions Interviewer
Check out the details on Personal MBA Coach’s TBD practice sessions, which will begin on February 20th. These sessions will mirror the actual Wharton interview, providing candidates an opportunity to work together with other applicants during a group session. They then will be followed by one-on-one interviews with former M7 MBA interviewers. Each participant will receive our proprietary interview preparation guide and a personal feedback session.