“What one talent or strength should a leader rely on most in daily life?”
“If you could teach one thing about innovation to a group of new employees, what would it be?”
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is informing this year’s MBA applicants that those are two questions they should be ready to answer if they are invited to interview with the school.
The letter, obtained by Poets&Quants, also provides applicants with more detail on Wharton’s new team-based discussion evaluation method. Applicants who are invited to an admissions interview will automatically be put into the discussion with five or six other applicants.
“The team-based discussion will allow you the opportunity to interact with your fellow applicants through discourse, which will highlight how you approach and analyze specific situations,” according to the letter. “Our hope is that this will give applicants a glimpse into Wharton’s group learning dynamic – which is central to our program. We believe that this type of assessment also serves as a tool to take prospective students ‘off the page’ and allows us to see firsthand the ways in which they can contribute to our community of diverse learners and leaders.”
For Wharton’s Class of 2013, about 2,580 of 6,442 applicants were interviewed. So if the size of the school’s applicant pool is similar, Wharton will have to hold as many as 500 of the new team-based discussions to accommodate the new and novel admissions test.
Wharton says that applicants should plan to spend no more than one hour to prepare for both the interview and the class-like discussion. The off-campus interviews, Wharton reported, will be held in Dubai, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, New Delhi, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.
‘A really bad version of The Apprentice’
At least one prominent MBA admissions consultant was critical of the Wharton letter. ”Sounds like something sent from the Ministry of Fear in terms of its impersonality, global reach, phony friendliness, and demands,” says Sanford Kreisberg of HBSGuru.com. “In practice, this will come off like a really bad version of The Apprentice where all the contestants are talking about innovation instead of doing anything.”
The letter follows:
As many of you know, the Admissions office has partnered with the Wharton Innovation group to launch a new evaluation method, the team-based discussion, for the 2012-2013 application cycle. In anticipation of the interview portion of the process, we have prepared the following to provide further insight into this new format. Please Note: you must be invited to interview in order to take part in the next phase of the process.
If you are invited to interview, you will participate in a team-based discussion with 5-6 other applicants during your scheduled session. The team-based discussion will allow you the opportunity to interact with your fellow applicants through discourse, which will highlight how you approach and analyze specific situations.
Our hope is that this will give applicants a glimpse into Wharton’s group learning dynamic – which is central to our program. We believe that this type of assessment also serves as a tool to take prospective students ‘off the page’ and allows us to see firsthand the ways in which they can contribute to our community of diverse learners and leaders.
Interviews will be conducted both on campus and in select international locations. On campus interviews are conducted by Admissions Fellows, a select group of trained second-year students, while off-campus are facilitated by Admissions staff members. The off-campus interviews will be held in Dubai, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, New Delhi, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.
You will be able to schedule your interview through your Wharton account once you are invited to do so via email. All applicants will have the option of interviewing on Wharton’s campus or in one of our select major cities around the world. While there are two options and no one way is preferred over another, we do encourage invited candidates to interview on campus to get a sense of our community and culture. While on campus, candidates will have the opportunity to take part in our campus visit program by attending a class, having lunch with students and experiencing the MBA community in action. We will not be able to accomodate all requests for a specific location, so we encourage all invited candidates to register for a slot as soon as possible.
Once you have successfully registered for your interview, you will then receive a series of follow-up emails, detailing logistics and next steps regarding the session.
Your discussion will have a prompt and a purpose and you will work towards a tangible outcome with your group. The team-based discussion is additive and does not replace the opportunity for an individual exchange. There will be time allotted for a short one-on-one conversation regarding your candidacy with a member of the Admissions staff or Admission Fellow during the interview. This will also provide an opportunity to ask any questions that you may have.
Below are examples of the type of prompts that may be used during a session (Please note that we will provide you further information on the prompt for your team based discussion after you are invited to interview and sign up):
What one talent or strength should a leader rely on most in daily life?
If you could teach one thing about innovation to a group of new employees, what would it be?
Come prepared to share your individual thoughts.
You should plan to spend no more that one hour in preparation.
Do not expect the interviewer to give you feedback – literally or figuratively. Be careful to avoid any interpretation of verbal or non-verbal communication, as both may mislead you.
Interviews are not a popularity contest. The interviewer is there to assess your fit for the Wharton MBA program.
The key is to relax, be genuine, and enjoy the opportunity for us to get to know you and you to get to know each other!
Thank you again for applying to Wharton. We look forward to reading your application.