Wharton MBA Interview
A unique characteristic of Upenn Wharton MBA admissions is the team based discussions, where prospective students spend half an hour together working on a problem before presenting their solutions to second years and adcoms. A word from a Wharton adcom member regarding this process, “Essentially, we give our students a really overbroad sketch of a problem that’s facing the world and we task them with finding novel solutions. We put them into learning teams, a group of six individuals from diverse backgrounds who will go through our teamwork and leadership course. This year, we worked with McKinsey to come up with the idea and it was focused on machine learning.”
Almost half the number of applicants to Upenn Wharton are interviewed but only 1 in 10 interviewed are able to get through.
How to ace the Wharton interview?
Wharton MBA Frequently Asked Interview Questions
- Tell me about an experience where there was no formally
- Tell me how you have addressed the opinions of others in group situations?
- Tell me about a time you encountered conflict in a group and how you handled it?
- What did this experience teach you about yourself?
- How have you applied this knowledge to your work and/or personal life?
- How did the rest of the team feel about your actions?
- Tell me about an experience where there was no formally appointed group leader.
- Tell me about a time when you had to build a team or lead an effort.
- Your definition of leadership.
- How did you get others on board with your project?
- What strengths contributed to your success?
- Do you feel you made any mistakes during this process?
Wharton MBA Interview Questions – 1
Had my Wharton interview at the San Francisco campus in a smallish room with a round table. Name tags were faced towards the interviewer and no visible, which made it hard to call people by name since I had forgotten a few.
- Interviewer briefly introduced herself, read the prompt, and told us about what we would have: 35 minutes, a timer, and a whiteboard.
- TBD (Team Based Discussion)
- 1 on 1 interview
We were also asked to give our intended major in our intro, which threw some of us off, but I don’t think that ended up mattering. The rest of the TBD went very smoothly–we ended up finishing the trip schedule with about 10 minutes to spare, so we added in some other details. I was lucky to have an above average group, though that can sometimes make it difficult to stand out. 5 of us were admitted.
The 1 on 1 was incredibly easy. Just 2 questions: why MBA and why Wharton, though it was sort of combined into 1 question. Following that, the interviewer asks if you have any questions for him/her. Because I finished with about 6 minutes left, I had to make up a bunch of questions on the spot. While I was able to wing it and maintain a natural conversation, I would HIGHLY recommend having 5 questions prepared if your Why MBA/Wharton is less than 5 minutes.
Wharton MBA Interview Questions – 2
Group discussion was friendly. Had 5 other candidates.
The session started with each person introducing themselves and then sharing their individual pitch around the topic. Then, we started bringing these different ideas to life. Everyone was collaborative and building on each other’s points. We managed time well – left the last few minutes to summarize as a group.
This was followed by a 15-minute 1:1 interview. The questions were mainly around our past experience, why Wharton, and what after Wharton. Pretty straightforward and what you would expect. The interviewer was warm and friendly and generally interested in getting to know you better.
Wharton MBA Interview Questions – 3
On Campus Interviewed on: Feb 27 2019 Final Decision: Waitlisted with Interview
“The dreaded TBD! For those coming in blind, Wharton uses a team-based discussion (TBD) to evaluate you. They give you a prompt with your interview invite (something pretty generic that anyone could do, with no right answer) then you go into interview day with 5 other people, present your idea, then the 6 of you discuss and have to come up with a proposal/presentation. You have 5 minutes to present. You have a total of 35 minutes for the TBD. Two (in my case) 2nd yr students will be watching the entire time. After, you have a 10 minute one-on-one interview debrief with one of the students.
I was pretty deep into the interview-hole by this point (I had three MBA interviews in the pocket already and am expecting this to be my last one), and of course, this one is the “weirdest” one.
The first thing I notice is that Wharton really packed a lot of people to interviews on the day that I went. I think my day was the last or one-of-the-last for Round 2. Everyone says to get there early so you can create a rapport with your potential group members, but on my day there were so many people there that how would you even know who could possibly be in your group? I still recommend getting there early so you’re not stressing out about being late and I always think it’s good to meet your potential classmates.
About 15 minutes before your TBD, you gather in the AdCom office and they call out your groups. The two students assigned to you will read the prompt, explain the rules, and then observe.
The TBD itself was… dare I say… pretty fun actually! Our prompt this year (believe it was the same prompt as last year) was to come up with a proposal for a three-day retreat to be taken with your cohort during pre-term. I won’t give away anything wild, but the 6 of us actually had a lot of ideas that overlapped. People did things differently in my group as well – I came in with a sheet of paper, one of my teammates had a notebook where he had written down his ideas, others had seemingly memorized their pitches.
I think our group was fairly unique in that we actually took a little bit of each person’s ideas to create a new pitch. I’ve heard of other groups where one person’s idea is picked and he/she has to present it. I don’t think it “matters” as in it would be a deal-breaker, but (and I’m a bit biased!) I liked the way we did ours 🙂
Some hints for the TBD… It can definitely be easy to run out of time – time management is super important here. You have 35 minutes total, 1 minute per person to pitch, and 5 minutes at the end to present. This leaves you 24 minutes to discuss. However, people will go over their minute presentation and your team will need at least a minute or two to get its ducks-in-order, etc. The two observers will not be saying anything at all, so it’s really up to you to make sure you’re ok on time, etc. I was pretty lucky in that our team seemed to really work well together and no one was taking over the conversation/shrinking away/etc, but make sure you’re not one of those people! The big thing: do not be a jerk. Don’t interrupt people, don’t talk over people, don’t insult anyone else’s ideas. Work with your team how you would like your team to work with you. Also relax and have a good time!
The 10 minute one-on-one after was more challenging, IMO, after coming off of the TBD. It was pretty similar to a normal interview, but my interviewer (who was one of the observers of my group) was pretty stone-faced. Luck of the draw or directed by the school? Who knows. I did find some topics on which to connect with, so I felt good about that.
– Why MBA and why Wharton specifically?
– What are you looking to do post MBA?
– Any questions for me?
This interview left a lot of time for questions for the interviewer – I would note that you should have at least 3, preferably 5. I had 4 and felt like I could have used one more. C’est la vie!
Make sure you prepare for the Why Wharton question! I think so many interviewees prepare for the TBD that they kind of skim the one-on-one. This, I’m sure, is very important as well!
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I went during midterms so there were no class visits, though I went to class visits the last time I visited. We had a lecture + lunch as well as a tour of the campus.
All in all, I enjoyed my day at Wharton and got a good feel for the school. My favorite part of the experience was getting to know my potential future classmates.”
Tips to ace the Wharton MBA Interview
Wharton started the team-based discussion (TBD) in 2012, which has since become an integral part of its assessment. It’s reflective of the Learning Teams model at the heart of the Wharton experience, which exults teamwork in the spirit “persuasive rather than positional leadership.” Wharton’s adcom wants to observe how you approach challenges, present yourself, and cohesively work towards solutions in a small group context. As such, it’s an opportunity to showcase what you’d bring to your future study group at Wharton – both in terms of your personal presence and as a member of an effective team.
The TBD takes place in a room with four to five other candidates, where you debate and present a proposal as a group. Your discussion will have a prompt and a purpose, and, together, you will work together to achieve a tangible outcome.
You’re typically given one minute to introduce yourself, and the sequence lasts in total 35 minutes, when the team of candidates comes up with a topic and presentation model that is ultimately shared with the adcom observer. After the TBD, you’ll have a 10-minute debrief, which takes place one-on-one with an admission representative. The time passes by swiftly.
Prepare to present your own ideas with care and precision, as well as situational awareness. It’s less about your own particular answer and presentation (although of course you should thoughtfully prepare this in advance) and more about how well you interact with other candidates. Expect to be assessed on how well you listen to others and facilitate the group’s dialogue.