Scott Edinburgh
October 23, 2019

Wharton and Michigan Ross: Tackling the MBA Group Interview

The group interview is something that causes anxiety for many MBA applicants. This topic is particularly top of mind now as Michigan Ross just released round 1 interview invites and Wharton round 1 interview invitations are expected on October 29th.

Each school approaches the group interview slightly differently. For Michigan Ross, this 30-minute team-based activity is optional but with preparation, participating can work in your favor. We always encourage applicants to participate in the interview if possible.

The Wharton TBD (Team Based Discussion), on the other hand, is required for all candidates invited to interview and includes the following three components:

1.      Each candidate gives a one-minute introduction to the group, providing an opportunity to get to know one another (this is the first 5 minutes).

2.      This is followed by a 35-minute team discussion, during which you should present the results of your discussion to the interviewers. Part of this is delivering your “pitch” and part is the broader team chat.

3.      Once the group exercise is done, you will have a brief individual 1:1 interview to discuss a couple aspects of your profile and your interest in Wharton.

This year, Personal MBA Coach will be offering à la carte group interview sessions for both Michigan Ross and Wharton (see below for details), giving candidates a unique opportunity to practice this difficult interview. We have former Wharton TBD interviewers to conduct these sessions! You can practice with an interviewer who evaluated over 70 applicants last year in person at Wharton and knows exactly how to help you ace the TBD.

Group interviews are a bit more complicated to prepare for, but once you learn how to address them, they can actually be easier than a regular interview. As you prepare, read these five tips for candidates on how to effectively tackle the group interview.

1. Do not be the loudest one in the room.

In an effort to stand out, it can be tempting to dominate the conversation. We do not advise this approach. The group interview is a great way 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.

2. You also do not want to be the quietest one in the room.

While you do not want to dominate, you also should not be a wallflower. It is important to stand out in the crowd (to some extent) and ensure that your opinions and voice are heard. This means that you need to strike a delicate (but difficult) balance here.

3. Be respectful.

This should be obvious but is important enough to mention. Bringing in new points of view does not mean debunking what others have to say. If you disagree with someone in the group, be respectful and politely add another perspective with being critical or rude.

4. Think about opportunities to build on an existing point of view.

You might believe that in order to stand out, you have to be the one to come up with a unique idea or a differing opinion. This is not necessarily the case. Collaboration is key during business school and in the broader business world and looking for ways to build off another idea or suggestion can be extremely beneficial. Think about where you can add the “and” instead of the “but” or the “or” here.

5. Do your research and plan ahead.

As with any other interview, it is important to adequately prepare for a group interview. Wharton will release the topic in advance, giving candidates the opportunity to come prepared. Heed this advice and arrive with specific and well researched talking points. However, be flexible and be prepared to pivot as needed. 

As a Wharton alum, I conduct a limited number of unique TBD practice sessions with my team of former M7 interviewers to help candidates. These sessions, which will begin in early November, will mirror the actual Wharton interview, providing candidates an opportunity to work together with other applicants during a group session. They will then 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.

We are also planning similar sessions for the first time this year for the Michigan Ross group interview.

Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year and is the #4 ranked admissions consultant on Poets & Quants. Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!