Tag Archives: Wharton School
February 13, 2017
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, …
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)
January 31, 2017
The Financial Times has once again crowned INSEAD—with campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi—as the world’s best business school. This year’s Global MBA Ranking saw strong performances from many European schools, and a surprising …
The Financial Times has once again crowned INSEAD—with campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi—as the world’s best business school. This year’s Global MBA Ranking saw strong performances from many European schools, and a surprising dip from elite US MBA programs.
Harvard Business School did not crack the top-three for the first time in nine years, and MIT Sloan School of Management fell out of the top ten for the first time in a decade. Perennial favorite London Business School fell three places to sixth—its lowest position in 14 years—giving Judge Business School in 5th place the title of top-ranked UK school for the first time ever.
This year the United States is home to five of the world’s top 10 business schools, but when the Financial Times introduced the global MBA ranking in 1999, only one non-US university, London Business School, made it into the top tier.
The Top Ten in FT’s 2017 Global MBA Ranking
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
- Harvard Business School
- Cambridge University Judge Business School
- London Business School
- Columbia Business School
- IE Business School
- Chicago Booth School of Business
- IESE Business School
The FT’s ranking is based on surveys of business schools and their 2013 graduates. MBA programs are assessed according to the career progression of their alumni, the school’s idea generation, and the diversity of students and faculty.
A likely explanation for the surge of European schools’ popularity has to do with the growing appeal of one-year degree programs which are more common outside of the United States. Since the FT ranking is based in part on career progression, shorter programs and lower tuition get graduates back in the workplace sooner and can be viewed as a better value for the money.
Top-ranked INSEAD receives high marks for its strong international culture and extensive and diverse alumni; about 95% of its faculty and students are international. “Insead enormously boosted our intercultural experience,” said one alumni survey respondent from Switzerland. “It is a place to learn global culture better than anywhere else.”
The wealth and depth of knowledge from around the world adds tremendous value to the course, wrote another graduate from the US, adding that “with so many cultures and experiences represented, a classroom ethics discussion about bribery is not your typical boring USA version.”
One-year MBA programs are still a growing option in the United States, but already a few top schools—Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, Emory’s Goizueta Business School—have introduced the format to attract candidates put off by the two-year time commitment and forgone salary.
Meanwhile, this year’s ranking reveals that graduates of second-place Stanford Graduate School of Business have the highest salary on average at $195,000, as well as the best career progression. Roughly 42% of alumni hold positions at director level or above three years after graduation, compared with 22% on average for ranked programs, the FT has found.
“Stanford GSB is both a long-term investment and a personal self-investment,” said one graduate from the class of 2013. “The results put me on a path to achieve full career satisfaction.”
While we don’t like to encourage clients to focus too heavily on rankings when they’re making their MBA program selections, we also know those headed for b-school really can’t help themselves. But placing too heavy an emphasis on rankings can actually become a distraction for some applicants, so be sure to consider multiple factors when making your final school selection.
Conrad Chua, MBA admissions director at the 5th place Judge Business School, had this to say when the 2017 Global MBA Rankings results came in. “We know that rankings are naturally volatile, as you can see from the number of schools that have double digit changes in their rankings every year.
“It is impossible to reduce an MBA experience in whatever school to just a number. Don’t ignore the rankings but make your own judgement of a school from speaking to its staff, its alums and students and make your own decision whether that is the right school for you,” Chua writes.
So remember, keep things in perspective and make sure you’re looking at the data points that are important to your own career path when determining the value of a particular ranking.
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January 25, 2017
Business schools want to see how candidates interact with peers before anyone’s even admitted, which can be very telling. It’s not actually an interview, per se, because there is no Q&A with participants. Each school …
Business schools want to see how candidates interact with peers before anyone’s even admitted, which can be very telling. It’s not actually an interview, per se, because there is no Q&A with participants. Each school conducts the group interview somewhat differently, and this new evaluation model gives candidates the chance to work with a handful of their fellow applicants to solve real-world business scenarios as a team.
The exercise demonstrates how candidates approach and analyze specific situations and interact with other people, two critical components of business schools that have a team-focused learning style. Through observation of each member’s discussions and communication with the group, the admissions team hopes to glean deeper insight into each applicant’s interpersonal skills.
Although it’s a completely organic experience, there are ways you can prepare for the group interview that will increase your comfort level when the big day arrives. Start by speaking out more in groups or meetings at work. Applicants to the Michigan Ross School of Business do not receive any clues about the content of the group interview in advance, but if you’re applying to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, you’ll receive your team-based discussion prompt prior to the interview.
Wharton recommends that applicants spend about an hour in advance prepping for the discussion. If possible, we suggest that you gather a group of three or four other people and conduct a mock discussion. Record the session and take note of things like your body language, interrupting, or any tendencies to try to control the discussion.
MBA applicants can also practice the “Yes, and…” rule from improv, where you build on whatever your partner tries. In her bestselling memoir Bossypants, Tina Fey writes that “yes, and” is one of her core principles in all aspects of her life, and means “Don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.” During the interview, seize any opportunities to either build upon or refer to someone else’s point.
Here’s what you don’t want to do during a group interview:
- Dominate the conversation
- Cut others off or dismiss someone’s idea entirely
- Raise your voice
- Roll your eyes, cross your arms, or display any other kind of negative body language
- Take out your phone or any other electronic device
Here’s what you should try to accomplish:
- Demonstrate you’ve done your research (if given a topic in advance)
- Listen—truly listen—to the others in your group when they speak
- Put the group’s goal ahead of trying to get airtime
- Offer to summarize if the conversation has reached a point where the group would benefit from a quick recap
To maximize your experience, stay flexible and focus on how you can propel the group forward and provide value to ensure the best possible outcome for your team. As many MBA applicants are born leaders who 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.
However, if you tend to be introverted, don’t let others intimidate you. If no one’s given you the chance to get a word in, you’re going to have to find an appropriate way to join the conversation before it’s too late. For its part, Wharton knows that leaders come in many forms, and the school reassures candidates that the team-based interview is designed to let all types shine, regardless of how outgoing or shy you are. Just be yourself, get a read on the group dynamic, and let the chips fall where they may.
At Michigan Ross, how you manage yourself within the group is the sole focus of the observers, so it doesn’t matter if your fellow participants are “weak”, or whether you’ve landed in a “bad” group. How you interact within the team, and how you interact with people who have different styles than you, will be foremost on the observers’ radar, Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions, explained.
Remember, whether they show it or not, everyone participating will be nervous. Even if the team or group exercise is optional at your school, don’t forgo the experience. From our perspective as MBA admissions consultants, you should never pass up the opportunity for face time with the admissions committee. Allowing them to get to know the real you, beyond the version on paper, is critical to your chances of receiving an offer of admission.
If you have been invited to interview with a school that is using the group interview format, you will absolutely want to take advantage of Stacy Blackman’s live group practice session. This format can be fun, but also challenging and stress inducing! Success comes from practice and becoming comfortable with the format.
We’ll have dedicated groups of 3-6 people for Wharton and Ross, with experienced moderators and admissions experience. You’ll receive preparation tips and a one-hour mock experience, followed by written feedback with actionable advice. For more on this new service, click here.
January 17, 2017
If you have an upcoming video interview for schools including INSEAD, Yale SOM, Michigan Ross or Wharton, PRACTICE is essential to success. This awkward format requires you to think on your feet and record your …
If you have an upcoming video interview for schools including INSEAD, Yale SOM, Michigan Ross or Wharton, PRACTICE is essential to success. This awkward format requires you to think on your feet and record your answer to a question (or questions) while speaking into your computer screen. It’s a new format for many and one that requires some rehearsal in order to become comfortable conversing with a computer screen!
Stacy Blackman Consulting has an online video platform that grants you unlimited practice doing exactly this. You can answer from a wide menu of questions, record yourself, watch and assess, tweak and try again. Invest 30 minutes a night and reap the benefits of increased comfort level and more articulate answers when you have your live interview. You can even choose an interview to submit to the SBC team for review and professional written feedback.
Set yourself up for success with this small investment and rock your video interviews! Purchase your package here today.
December 8, 2016
Forté Foundation has introduced its new Men As Allies Initiative to help male students benefit from, and get involved in, enhancing gender equity on business school campuses and to take that experience back to the business world. …