Do you want to meet other interesting and well-qualified people from all different backgrounds? Do you want to immerse yourself in a real team environment? Do you want to exchange stimulating ideas on a topic that has global reach? Welcome to the Team Based Discussion, the group interview process pioneered at the Wharton School which guarantees to be a rich and rewarding experience.
You have probably been through your fair share of behavioral interviews by now and you have memorized those stories that represent the important leadership and teamwork qualities that you want your interviewers to know. But have you ever wondered why the few moments in your past have such a strong weight on your future? Well the TBD is here to change that and to allow you – the real-life you, not those distant past renditions of you – to pave the path forward. That is the essential goal of the Office of MBA Admissions, as described by Rebekah Jackson, Senior Associate Director, and Megan Gallagher, Associate Director. Through the group interview, they are hoping to see a more authentic side of the applicants that reaches beyond the somewhat canned responses to the typical interview.
Wharton is a very collaborative place and you will be working with teams for class assignments, extracurricular activities and even while pursuing your dream career. The TBD is designed to give the applicants a chance to see what working in a team really means and if they truly enjoy the process. It is important for applicants to remember that the admissions process is not just for the schools to learn about them, but also for them to learn about the programs. The team-based nature is fundamental to Wharton’s identity and applicants should truly embrace that aspect in order to extract the most value out of their time here.
As a first year MBA student who went through the first round of the Team Based Discussion, this author can attest to the validity of these rationales. If you need more convincing, Eugena Brown (WG15) conducted a survey from her fellow classmates on their experiences during the process. The vast majority of students really valued the TBD and 41% of the respondents suggested that the interview exerted a positive impact on their decision to come to Wharton. Another 41% of the students indicated that they found the TBD to be challenging – but their presence on campus today should assure applicants that there exists no disadvantage even if one has not worked in teams previously.
It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but interviewing in a group actually puts you more at ease. At other interviews, you usually wait in the reception area, all alone, and get more nervous by the second as you fidget with your suit and pick apart your prepared answers. In contrast, the atmosphere at Wharton is completely different. The moment you step through the doors, you are greeted by lively conversation and a group of candidates who are laughing and enjoying each other’s company. You are surprised by the common bonds that some share and amazed by the cool things that others have done – but most importantly, you thaw away the rigidity of your interview self and become your natural self. By the time your name is called and you walk into the conference room, you already know some of the people in your interview group and you feel that much more secure and confident. Many applicants exchanged numbers, went for celebratory drinks afterwards and kept in touch!
Remember, this is not a competition – there is an equal possibility that everyone or no one from your group will be admitted. Take this opportunity to craft a vibrant and engaging side of you. Be genuine, don’t overthink the process and you will succeed. If you love the positive energy and camaraderie bouncing off the walls of the MBA Admissions office, then you will love your best two years at Wharton.