Tag Archives: team-based discussion

Do’s and Don’ts of the MBA Group Interview

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, …

teamwork MBA group interviews

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, admissions committees at various MBA programs have turned to group or team interviews to help make crucial admit decisions.

On paper, you can wow your evaluator with interesting work experience, stellar GMAT or GRE scores and compelling MBA essays, but none of these criterion can demonstrate how well you work with others – a crucial component of the business school experience.

Each school conducts the group interview somewhat differently – including some being optional exercises – though the task is usually to have applicants work together and solve real-world business scenarios.

The exercise demonstrates how candidates approach and analyze specific situations and their interpersonal skills, two critical components of business schools that have a team-focused learning style. Observing how you interact with peers prior to admission gives the school important clues as to what kind of student you would be if admitted.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for standing out in a group interview. While you can’t predict the group’s unique dynamic, you can prepare for the interview and increase your comfort level when the big day arrives.

Do prepare in advance: When possible, find ways to speak out more in groups or meetings at work. Applicants to the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor’s Ross School of Business receive no advance specifics on the team-based exercise, but if you’re applying to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll receive your discussion prompt prior to the interview.

Spend an hour in advance prepping for the discussion. If possible, gather a group of three or four other people and conduct a mock discussion.

Spend time studying up on the topic so you’re ready to discuss the problem in detail during the interview but try not get too attached to your own ideas. Staying flexible is key.

Don’t dominate the conversation: During the group interview, remind yourself that this isn’t a competition against others in your group – there’s no need to try to prove you’re the most brilliant mind in the room.

Encourage fellow participants to advance the conversation and help reach a solution. That said, don’t get distressed if you find yourself in a group with weaker participants. This won’t affect your admissions outcome since the observers focus solely on how you handle yourself with diverse players.

Do show you’re an active listener: A huge part of being an active listener is being open and flexible to different points of view, especially opposing viewpoints.

Even if you think you know what another person is trying to say, don’t interrupt and try to finish the thought. This sends a subtle signal that you believe your ideas are better or more important than the speaker’s.

If a group member has a good idea, acknowledge it. Also practice the “Yes, and …” rule from improvisation and build on what the other person has shared. During the interview, seize any opportunities to do this or refer to someone else’s point.

Don’t let your body language trip you up: Effective listening also involves body language. If you roll your eyes, cross your arms or display any other kind of negative body language, you’ll come across as hostile – that’s not the type of person others want on their team.

Make eye contact with the other participants when they speak, face your body toward them and ask clarifying questions when helpful. If your preparation includes mock discussions with friends or colleagues, record the session and take note of your body language, how often you interrupt or any tendencies you have to try to control the discussion.

Often, we’re unaware of these traits until we see them for ourselves. Once you know, you can actively avoid them during the interview.

Do prioritize the group’s goal: Groups that work well together impress the admissions committee, and your group is competing against other groups of applicants.

Forgo attempts to grab extra airtime for yourself, and put the team’s goal front and center. Take notes, and help keep the group on track. You’ll only have a short amount of time – 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the school – for the task.

Since many MBA applicants are born leaders and are used to taking charge, you’ll need to be conscious of the fact that you might be surrounded by lots of Type A personalities and need to adjust your style accordingly. Encourage shy participants to speak up more, suggest different approaches if the group seems stuck in a dead end and offer to summarize if the conversation has reached a point where everyone would benefit from a quick recap.

Great leaders come in many forms, but they usually have one thing in common: the ability to listen and work well with others. Whether you are an introvert or the life of the party, you can succeed in a group interview. Remember these simple steps and embrace the uncertainties of the experience, keep a positive attitude and enjoy this opportunity to start building your MBA network before you’ve even been admitted.

Image credit: Flickr user SESCSP (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Wharton MBA Interview Tips

Are you targeting the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School? Whether you’re looking forward to an interview in Round 2 or 3, or perhaps have your sights set a bit farther out for next application season, …

Wharton interview tips

Are you targeting the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School? Whether you’re looking forward to an interview in Round 2 or 3, or perhaps have your sights set a bit farther out for next application season, you’ll want to take a look at these three tips I recently shared with Business Insider on how to ace your Wharton interview.

  1. Prepare for the Team-Based Discussion: observers want to see candidates contributing without dominating the discussion; the idea is to see how you might engage in a productive conversation with a group of future classmates. To make a positive impression, be sure to share your point of view, but also listen thoughtfully; respect differing points of view; and bring others into the conversation.
  2.  Emphasis your experience as an innovator: To emphasize this aspect of your personality or experience, think of ways you’ve acted as a “change agent” in your workplace or community. Wharton wants students who are dynamic and energized about looking to change industries, economies, and even their countries.
  3.  Show you’re globally savvy: Showing global awareness isn’t necessarily about the number of stamps on your passport. Rather, it’s about showing that you thrive in new and unfamiliar environments, and can successfully navigate the challenges of competing in a global marketplace.

Click over to the full story on Business Insider and you’ll learn how to show the admissions team at Wharton that you’re prepared to work well with a team, emphasize innovation in your approach, and share your global perspective. You may just find yourself on the positive side of Wharton’s competitive interview and application process.

You may also be interested in:

Wharton Fall 2016 MBA Essay Tips
Survey Says Wharton Beats HBS in Most Satisfied MBAs

Posted in Application Tips, UPenn Wharton Advice | Tagged , , , , ,

Wharton’s Advice for the Team-Based Discussion

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School plans on sending out Round 2 team-based discussion invites on February 12th, and deputy vice dean of MBA admissions Maryellen Reilly Lamb shared a few tips about the experience …

Wharton advice team-based discussion

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School plans on sending out Round 2 team-based discussion invites on February 12th, and deputy vice dean of MBA admissions Maryellen Reilly Lamb shared a few tips about the experience in her most recent blog post.

Here’s a quick refresher on the team-based exercise: Five or six invited candidates work together to solve real-world business scenarios as a team. Wharton believes the exercise demonstrates how applicants approach and analyze specific situations and interact with other people—two critical components of Wharton’s team-focused learning style.

Everyone’s TBD experience will be different, says Lamb, adding that your approach to the TBD will be a balance between being prepared and adapting to the situation.

Here are four aspects the director feels candidates should focus on to maximize their experience.

Flexibility: Challenges can change from moment to moment, so stay flexible and leave your preconceived notions at the door.

Your skills and strengths: Tap into tactics you have used successfully in the past while working in a team setting, and lean on your strengths to help propel the group forward.

The overall process: Lamb suggests asking yourself, “How can you provide value to ensure that best possible outcome for your team? Does your team need more brainstorming? Do they need more clarity around the proposed ideas?”

There is no “right” way: It may be easier said than done, but accept that you should just be yourself, get a feel for the dynamics of your particular group, and let the chips fall where they may.

Interviews will begin on campus in Philadelphia in late February, as well as various locations across the globe, including Dubai, London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo. Applicants should interview in whichever location is most convenient for them.

For more advice, take a look at this post by (now) second-year student Alexandra Gorin. In it, she explains how she prepared for the TBD, what she experienced, and what she took away from the group interview. It’s chock-full of helpful tips!

***

Success comes from practice and becoming comfortable with the format. With that in mind, Stacy Blackman Consulting now offers live group practice sessions to help applicants with this fun but challenging new interview style.
Our seasoned moderators have admissions experience at the Wharton School, and participants receive preparation tips and a one-hour mock experience, followed by written feedback with actionable advice. Find out more about our interview prep options today.

 

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , ,

Wharton School Round 1 Interview Update

The latest posting on the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA admissions blog will bring some relief to nail-biting round 1 applications. The school has announced that invitations to interview will go out on October …

The latest posting on the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA admissions blog will bring some relief to nail-biting round 1 applications. The school has announced that invitations to interview will go out on October 31st.

Applicants selected to interview will receive the Team-Based Discussion prompt prior to their interview, says Maryellen Lamb, Deputy Vice Dean, Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Management.

Wharton piloted this new interview method last year, with the goal of giving potential students an opportunity to show who they are – how they think, lead, communicate and interact. Lamb recommends that candidates spend about an hour in advance preparing for the discussion.

As a reminder, the Team-Based Discussion will be comprised of 5-6 applicants. “Teams will be a function of who signs up – there is no ‘crafting’ done on our end. The discussion will have a prompt and a purpose – that is, there is a tangible outcome you will be working towards,” Lamb explains.

The majority of Team-Based Discussion interviews will take place on campus during the month of November and will be conducted by Admissions Fellows, a select group of second-year students. For those unable to participate on campus, Wharton will conduct interviews in Dubai, London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and here, in Philadelphia.

This format can be challenging yet a lot of fun, and Stacy Blackman Consulting now offers a group interview prep service for applicants invited to interview at a school using the group interview format. Find out more information about this service here.

You may also be interested in:

2014 University of Pennsylvania Wharton School MBA Essay Tips

Wharton MBA Class of 2016’s Entrepreneurial Mindset

Posted in School News | Tagged , , , ,

Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion, Demystified

In her first post to the admissions blog following Ankur Kumar‘s departure last week, Wharton School‘s deputy vice dean for MBA admissions, Maryellen Lamb, provided a thorough walk-through of the team-based discussion component and shared …

In her first post to the admissions blog following Ankur Kumar‘s departure last week, Wharton School‘s deputy vice dean for MBA admissions, Maryellen Lamb, provided a thorough walk-through of the team-based discussion component and shared news of an uptick in R1 applications this season.

So, what’s this team-based exercise? Invited candidates will have the chance to work together with a handful of their fellow applicants to solve real-world business scenarios as a team. According to the school, this exercise demonstrates how they approach and analyze specific situations and interact with other people, two critical components of Wharton’s team-focused learning style.

Despite applicants’ natural trepidation, Lamb says there are 837 first-years on campus who survived the experience and actually enjoyed it. Here, she shares the nitty gritty of this new interview format:

  • As with our one-on-one interview, Team-Based Discussion will be by invitation only. Participation is required to complete the admissions process.
  • Each Team-Based Discussion will be comprised of 5-6 applicants. Teams will be a function of who signs up – there is no ‘crafting’ done on our end. The discussion will have a prompt and a purpose – that is, there is a tangible outcome you will be working towards.
  • Applicants selected to interview will receive the Team-Based Discussion prompt prior to their interview.  We recommend that you spend about an hour in advance preparing for the discussion.
  • Candidates will continue to have an opportunity for a short individual conversation with an Admissions team member, which will follow the Team-Based Discussion exercise.
  • The majority of Team-Based Discussion interviews will continue to be held on-campus and conducted by our Admissions Fellows, a select group of second-year students. We encourage you to take advantage of our visit program when you come to campus to experience life at Wharton firsthand.
  • During each evaluation round we will continue to host Team-Based Discussions in select cities around the world. These sessions will be conducted by Admissions officers.
  • On- and off-campus Team-Based Discussions will be conducted in the same way and considered equally. There is no ‘advantage’ in choosing either option.

“…Interviewees came away from the day impressed by the type of students that they could be in class with and gained a group of contacts going through a similar experience,” Lamb says. “The early camaraderie was an unintended effect, but one we enjoyed witnessing throughout the process.”

***

Stacy Blackman Consulting has introduced live group practice sessions this year to help applicants with this fun but challenging new interview format. Find out more about our interview prep options with moderators who have admissions experience at both Wharton and Michigan Ross School of Business, which has also introduced an optional, though strongly encouraged, group exercise component.

You may also be interested in:

Wharton’s MBA Director on New Team-Based Discussion

Wharton Introduces New Component to MBA Application

Posted in General, School News | Tagged , , , ,