Interview Advice for Wharton MBA Applicants
The admissions odds are incredibly competitive at elite business schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. During the last application cycle, Wharton received 6,319 applications and enrolled just 877 students for the Class of 2024. The school releases its R2 interview invites on February 17th, and with competition so fierce, preparation is critical. That means it’s time to share SBC’s interview advice for Wharton!
As consultants who help clients earn admission to top MBA programs, we know first-hand the importance of interviews. Wharton interviews approximately 40% of applicants, and about one-in-3 ultimately receives an offer of admission. It’s worth noting that no candidate gets in without an interview. They are a crucial component of how the admissions committee gets a complete picture of you as an applicant. It’s also how the AdCom evaluates whether you’ll fit into the Wharton community.
The Wharton Team-Based Interview is meant to model the highly collaborative nature of the Wharton MBA environment to identify characteristics like communication style, level of engagement, leadership skills and decision-making.
The Stacy Blackman team includes three former Wharton Admissions Officers. SBC consultant, Anthony, previously served as the associate director of MBA admissions at the Wharton School and was there when they launched the team-based discussion. In fact, he served on the team that helped design and implement this format.
What Group Interviews Provide
“Wharton had used both fit and behavioral interviews in its evaluation process and was finding that similar decisions could have been made without the interview,” Anthony said in B-Schooled podcast episode #42. “It wasn’t providing any new insight into a candidate’s background or potential in an MBA program than what the written application had said.”
“As we thought about the unique aspects of the Wharton program, the collaboration and team emphasis was a constant theme,” he added. “And so we worked towards creating an interview process that would allow us to better understand how someone performs in a team setting.”
Stacy Blackman offers a mock team-based interview service that replicates the Wharton TBD experience and is led by former members of Wharton AdCom. You’ll receive preparation tips, a one-hour mock group interview, and written feedback with actionable advice. Space is limited, so contact us today for more info.
Interview Advice for Wharton
Our expert advice includes the following tips that will show off your assets and skills to their best advantage during the TBD experience.
Preparing for the team-based discussion
Wharton was among the first business schools in the US to implement a team-based discussion component as part of the interview process. In it, four to five applicants discuss a topic for 35 minutes while admissions committee members observe. Wharton will provide all applicants with the necessary details and the prompt that will be used before the scheduled interview time.
There are three parts to the Wharton TBD that need to occur within the 35-minute timeline. Time management is up to the group, so you will need to create a strategy around using those 35 minutes to ensure that you address all of these points.
- A one-minute pitch from each participant.
- The bigger group discussion on the prompt.
- A formal presentation at the end of the discussion.
Until further notice, Wharton will conduct virtual TBDs for 2022-2023 applicants. Candidates will meet their team on a remote conferencing tool instead of in a physical space. All of the candidates will participate virtually from various locations. Following the team-based discussion, you’ll have a one-on-one blind interview for about 10 minutes. The interviews are conducted by AdCom or highly trained second-year students who are referred to as admissions fellows.
This aspect of the application process attempts to get a holistic sense of you outside of a well-written essay or even a well-rehearsed interview. “Wharton emphasizes your ability to collaborate and be a strong team player,” SBC consultant Anthony said.
Keep in mind that 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. As Anthony explained, this is an opportunity for you to express who you are as an individual and as a member of a functioning team.
@stacyblackmanconsulting #sbcyourfuture #bschool #mba #businessschool #bschooladmissions #interviewtips #wharton #whartonmba #interview #groupinterview ? original sound – Stacy Blackman Consulting
To leave a positive impression, share your point of view and listen thoughtfully. Respect differing points of view and bring others into the conversation. Above all, be yourself—and know there’s no right or wrong answer.
“Adaptability is crucial,” Anthony emphasized. “The evaluators want to see that you’ve prepared for the interview, but you’re not necessarily being evaluated on just the words that you speak or the ideas that you give. It’s really based on your actions throughout the team-based discussion.”
A current second-year MBA student offered this valuable interview advice for Wharton:
“I found simulating the TBD with a group of friends extremely helpful. Having gone through the experience in a comfortable setting really helped ease the pressure off for the actual interview and allowed me to truly be myself despite the nerves.” —Rhea Grover, WG23
Emphasize your experience as an innovator
Innovation is integral to Wharton’s brand. This doesn’t have to mean you’ve invented the next billion-dollar app or founded a company. But it does denote someone who creates something that has not existed before—whether that’s a new product, process, or way of seeing the world.
Think of ways you’ve acted as a “change agent” in your workplace or community. Wharton seeks dynamic, energized students who look to change industries, economies, and even their countries. Find examples of how you’ve seen the potential to make things better—and taken action to create positive change.
Show your aptitude for thriving in a global environment
Approximately 35% of Wharton’s Class of 2024 hails from 77 countries outside the US. Awareness and appreciation of other cultures are vital to an applicant’s ability to survive and thrive at Wharton and in today’s global business world.
Showing global awareness isn’t necessarily about the number of stamps on your passport. Instead, it’s about showing that you thrive in new and unfamiliar environments. Also, it shows you can successfully navigate the challenges of competing in a global marketplace.
If your career goals transcend borders, share your planned career path. Also, provide examples of challenges and successes if you have experience working with global teams. Above all, an honest curiosity and willingness to learn about other cultures and countries will go a long way.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t consider interviews for Wharton or any other top business school as just another hurdle standing in the way of your MBA. Instead, realize this is how the admissions committee tries to get to know you better.
The interview allows you to connect the dots of your narrative and tell your story in your unique voice. Emphasizing your strengths and experiences as they relate to qualities important to each school’s learning community will help show how you’ll fit in and be a contributing member and, indeed, an asset to that school’s learning community.
As another second-year MBA student emphasized:
“Just be yourself! The TBD simulates a real-life experience working on a team as a Wharton student. It’s important to show how YOU best work in a team. Be flexible and adapt as necessary, but make sure to stay true to who you are in a team setting.” — Megan Emery, WG23
Now that you’ve seen our interview advice for Wharton, it’s time to start practicing! Recruit a friend or family member to conduct mock interviews with you. Or, contact us to learn more about our group interview prep services.
If you’re prepared to work well with a team, emphasize innovation in your approach, and share your global perspective, you could find yourself on the positive side of Wharton’s competitive interview and application process.
Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to test prep to hourly help with targeted tasks. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.