Wharton Interview Tips: How to Prepare for the Team Based Discussion
You were granted a Wharton interview, congrats! You’re one step closer to being accepted and you might wonder what your odds of acceptance are at this point. Well, roughly half of all applicants are invited for a Wharton interview, but the school only accepts one in five. So, they’re looking to cut the remaining pool by slightly more than half at this juncture.
What Does the Wharton Interview Entail?
You have probably read about Wharton’s unique interview format – the Team Based Discussion. For 35 minutes, two interviewers will observe you and 4-5 other applicants as you discuss a case study that has been provided to you in advance (see below). Each interviewee gives a one-minute ‘pitch’, the group discusses the best path forward, and then presents its solution to the interviewers/observers (typically two second-year students). After the Team Based Discussion, you will have a fairly straightforward one-on-one interview, roughly 10 minutes in length, with one of the two observers. You’ll be asked to reflect on the Team Based Discussion you just took part in as well as standard questions such as “why Wharton?” and “why MBA?”. For the time being, all sessions are being conducted virtually.
What is the Wharton Team Based Discussion Prompt?
The Wharton Team Based Discussion prompt for Round 1 is as follows:
‘In 2019, Wharton introduced the Wharton Global Youth Program (WGYP) which offers online and on-campus programs, credit-bearing courses, and business competitions to young people. WGYP introduces business education to high school students around the world with a goal to educate and inspire pre-collegiate students to analyze the world’s complex challenges and take first steps in becoming leaders who will transform the global economy.
One of WGYP’s most unique offerings is the Pre-Baccalaureate (Pre-bacc) Program, an academically intensive opportunity for exceptional high school juniors and seniors to enroll in credit-bearing courses that span the breadth of Wharton’s business curriculum. Through a mix of live and independent coursework, engaging real-world activities, and robust university resources, students will experience a world-class education recognized globally for intellectual leadership and innovation. Pre-bacc courses are created and led by Wharton faculty and instructional staff to explore topics driven by Wharton research and teaching. Pre-bacc students may also have the opportunity to interact with Wharton students who serve as Teaching Assistants.
For today’s discussion, you and a team of MBA students have been invited to partner with a Wharton faculty member to design a new course on a cutting-edge business topic for WGYP’s pre-baccalaureate program.
As a team, decide on the following:
- Name of the course
- An overview of the course topics and themes
- The faculty member your team will partner with for the course
- Two learning outcomes (skills or knowledge that will be developed during the course)
- An assessment method (how you will demonstrate that students have achieved the learning outcomes)
How Do I Prepare for the Wharton Team Based Discussion?
Aside from drafting and practicing your one-minute pitch, preparing for the Wharton interview is tough, as you won’t know the group dynamics in advance and will have to adapt as the dialogue progresses. Our clients have shared a range of experiences, from ones that are very collaborative to others that are more competitive and combative.
Begin by thinking about what the admissions committee is looking to assess: (1) are your ideas logical, (2) can you communicate them articulately, and (3) do you ‘play well with others’ and move the discussion to a better place than it would have been if you were not part of the group.
Three Tips to Help You Stand Out in the Wharton Team Based Discussion
With those objectives in mind, consider the following:
Practice, practice, practice.
Your opening ‘pitch’ is the one element of the Team Based Discussion that you control. Really think through the ideas you’d like to present and practice verbalizing them. Focus on the “why” behind your ideas vs. getting hung up on too many specifics. And, if applicable, draw upon your own experiences to make a compelling argument as to why your proposal is a strong one.
Note, however, that one minute is short. Don’t get cut off simply because you didn’t run through your pitch in advance. Practice it, then practice it again – out loud.
Think back to meetings or team settings that have been particularly successful, why were they this way and how can you replicate the dynamic? If there is a leader in your workplace that always seems to drive the group to a solution, how does he/she do this? On the contrary, what counter-productive behaviors have you witnessed in these settings? Don’t exhibit them!
In addition, take note of how you would like to act and react in various scenarios during the group discussion. What should you do if the group gets too far off topic? Would you like to be the one to bring everyone back to the task at hand? Or how will you react if one participant is taking over the discussion? Remember, the goal is for the group to arrive at a solid (note that I did not say perfect) solution and look good doing it.
Be open and adaptable.
Unfortunately, you don’t have control over how the discussion plays out. You can demonstrate teamwork and collaboration in a number of ways: draw ideas out of someone who has been quiet, ask thought-provoking questions about a proposed solution, synthesize multiple viewpoints to help the group reach a conclusion. These are tools in your toolbox and the key to success is using them at the right time (and doing so tactfully). This is far more important than having the group choose your idea / pitch.
Lastly, as you’re going through the discussion, jot down an observation or two about how the group worked together. Candidates are often asked how they thought it went in the one-on-one portion. You want to share something more insightful than ‘I thought it went well’ and this can be tough to do on the spot. Prepare, be yourself, and relax!
Want Help? Participate in Our Mock TBD (The Results Speak for Themselves)
We completely understand the challenges inherent in individually preparing for a team-based exercise, so we are once again offering Mock Wharton TBD service. Did you know that based on last year’s data, out of 22 participants in our Mock Wharton TBD sessions, ALL but 1 were accepted or waitlisted?
The one-hour group video call will gather 4-6 clients who have received a Wharton interview invite to participate in a practice group interview with a format very similar to the actual interview. Sarah Chandler, our resident Wharton expert (and Wharton alum!), and Melanie Espeland, both Vantage Point MBA Senior Consultants, will facilitate the session, similar to how the Wharton adcom will.
Clients will receive instructions on how to prepare beforehand. Once on the video call, the facilitator will share brief instructions, then observe a 35-minute discussion on a specific prompt. The participants will be asked to prepare a 5-minute presentation to the facilitator. There will likely be ~10 minutes at the end of the hour to share self-reflections and ask questions. The facilitator will then provide individualized feedback in an assessment form to each participant within 48 hours.
This service is competitively priced at $499. Interested? Simply complete this form. Our team will be in touch shortly with next steps.