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 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



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