UPenn / WhartonBelow are MBA admissions interview questions and experiences submitted by Wharton applicants. If you interviewed at Wharton, we encourage you to submit a report detailing your experience!
Wharton MBA Admissions Interview Questions: Round 2 / Group Interview with Second Year Student / On Campus
The first part of the interview was a group discussion in which candidates shared an investment idea for innovation, one of Wharton’s “pillars.” The interview was completely unstructured – the two second year students who act as moderators sit in the corners of the room and take notes. For approximately 40 minutes, we all discussed our ideas and molded/sculpted one of them into a presentable and workable investment opportunity. Everyone was cordial, respectful and open. Some of the candidates were less succinct but all in all, I felt that everyone was able to get their points across. Certainly not a format that lends itself well to candidates who are extremely shy but for those who aren’t afraid to speak up, it isn’t as frightening as other interview formats.
Once the group interview had concluded, each candidate was brought back in for a one on one in which one of the moderators, who had not reviewed my application in advance, asked me a few behavioral type questions.
1) Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume
2) What do you see yourself doing at Wharton
3) What do you want to do after achieving your MBA
4) Do you have any questions for me
I arrived a bit early in order to make sure that I had the directions for the location right, and thus was able to chat with my fellow team members before the discussion. All of them, even though slightly tense due to the occasion, were very nice and easy to talk to.
We were then asked to join the AdCom member in our conference room, where we were seated at a round table (we were able to choose our seat). The AdCom explained that she would not interfere and only notify us when we had (if I remember well) 15 minutes left and 7 minutes left. She let us know that the outcome of the discussion was not pre-determined in that some groups are even able to draft a presentation, while others merely discuss and come to a conclusion. She told us that our topic was “innovation”, and then she sat down at the back of the room.
I then suggested to quickly go around and introduce ourselves again, including our background, just to make sure everyone was on the same page. After, the group was hesitant as how to talk about the ideas, so I made a joke that I understand that noone really wants to go first, so I briefly explained my idea and then asked my teammate on my left to go ahead.
It seemed that pretty much everyone’s idea was geared toward a certain underlying theme, so after the last one presented his idea, I said that it seems that we could agree on this theme and asked if everyone agreed. Then we started to work out the details, and here the group stumbled a bit in my opinion as we had one team member who really tried to push his idea and always talked for a long time when he spoke up. The rest of the group was really polite and never interrupted him, but I know for a fact that other team members would have liked to weigh in a bit more, and I’m still not sure how exactly that could have been accomplished smoothly. Nonetheless, we had some participants who, even though they remained rather observant than overly active, were able to add certain ideas and very important points when necessary (i.e. the fact that a part of our idea needed to be regulated – noone had really thought about that until that teammember came up with that point). Also, I was pretty sure that part of our idea was already covered by some club, but given that I didn’t really know all the clubs’ descriptions by heart and given that I didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus, I didn’t say anything and just noted that a certain part was already covered by one of Wharton’s initiatives, and then asked the participant who had come up with this idea if she was able to work out a particular facet that would differentiate our idea from the already existing initiative. We then wrapped up our idea, and we were not really sure whether we had to present that to the AdCom, but when we were finished she told us that this was not necessary and that the TBD was finished.
Then we had to wait until we were called for our 1-on-1s. Here, the interview was really very open. I was told that I could talk about whatever I want, for example my impression of the interview, any new developments since I submitted my application, or any questions that I had for her. I then chose to go exactly with this order, i.e. I first explained what I liked about the interview and what I wished had gone a bit better, then a brief update on any career developments, and then I even had a brief moment to ask her two questions.
Altogether, the interview was a LOT less stressful than I had expected, and the AdCom was extremely professional so that I really had no idea what impression I had made.
I eventually got admitted, and I’ve used Clear Admit’s interview counseling before the TBD in order to ease my tension (and it really helped!!).
I didn’t like the new interview (team based interview) because many people didn’t participate fully. Also, many people came up with ideas that were out of this world. There were a lot of different opinions. However, in the end, we came to a solid conclusion. There was no feedback provided — whether that conclusion would hold good.
Interview was usual – Why Wharton? Why MBA? Why now? Goals? Questions? What do you do in free time?
Well I got dinged today Really, really tough to swallow as Wharton was my first choice. I can’t help but wonder if it was the TBD that did me in. I did not purchase any prep package, but perhaps should have, as I may have done/said something “wrong.” If so, I really regret it and hope future candidates can learn from my experience since my group wasn’t what seemed to be the more typical super-friendly relaxed group. My topic was “innovation.” Here’s my experience:
Unlike the other groups I saw around me, mine was very tense. We spent a good 10 minutes going around the room explaining our ideas. I don’t think anyone understood most of them as they were so vague and broad. I actually thought for a second we were doing “social impact” because several of the ideas clearly fell under that umbrella. After the ideas, no one wanted to start the vetting process. Instead, we spent at least 5-10 minutes (overly) complimenting (random) parts of each others’ ideas, and one individual kept trying to combine everyone’s ideas into one. We were getting nowhere fast. So I tried to jump start the vetting. Only two ideas were actually focused on innovation but one of them was already being done through the school’s innovation initiative. I mentioned this, and since this idea was very broad, I asked the individual to elaborate on it because I was certain that there would be more details that we could take and build on. But he couldn’t. He stumbled and said, “I don’t know.” I was shocked and the room seemed to get even more tense. Dead silence. I immediately knew my comment may be perceived as an attempt to throw him under the bus, even though I was simply trying to direct the conversation into a more focused direction. Ugh…
Instead of keeping the conversation focused on innovation, it ended up being more of the same – talking more about social impact investments and trying to combine four ideas into one. I made one last attempt to recalibrate the topic. I mentioned how Dean Robertson talked about “innovation” in the context of programs/resources that help students to compete in times of rapid change due to globalization and advances in information technology. I thought the Dean was clearly stating that investing in innovation meant giving students some kind of an “edge” in the real world. People agreed, but then soon after ignored my comment. Rather than having a real dynamic conversation, people seemed to just be committed to their pre-planned strategy – defend their idea, overly compliment others’, and combine other ideas. At this point, we had only a couple minutes left and still 4-5 ideas. Guess what the final idea was? a combination of three ideas that had absolutely nothing to do with innovation – the vaguest idea I’ve ever heard.
Beyond having a logical, defensible idea, I didn’t really prepare for the TBD. My theory was that flexibility would work best in a dynamic conversation. So within my particular group, I thought my role was to keep the group focused, and that facts, literal interpretations, and logic would be appreciated by Wharton. In hindsight, I may have just come across as a jerk. Within this TBD framework, I’m not sure if it ever pays to be the odd man out, regardless of how logical it may seem (and especially with a tense group). Blending in is perhaps always the correct strategy. If I’m right on this assessment, then the TBD accomplishes exactly the opposite of what it intended to do.
I signed up for a group discussion with 5 other applicants. We had a 35 min talk on how to spend $1M USD in Wharton’s Global Presence. We reached consensum and even got to present our results to the Adcom Rep.
Afterwards, my one-on-one interview was very casual an unstructured, the rep told me I had 10 minutes to talk about what I wanted, and so I started to give my Y MBA, Y Now and Y Wharton speech.
She then asked me about my hobbies and if i had any questions for her. The time went really fast!
I felt really confident and enjoyed the process -if that’s even possible.
It is useful to arrive a little early and get to know your fellow candidates. Goes without saying if there is a drinks reception prior to your scheduled interview, make sure you attend and speak to others about how theirs went. Get some paper and pen as there is often none in the venues. It will also be useful to have a watch to keep time. We were taken to a meeting room and sat round a table. The Adcom member read the prompt and explained the rules, we were meant to discuss the prompt and make a presentation in the end. She then stepped back – we had to structure the proceedings right from the start. Our examiner kept time for us and let us know half way through and when we were left with a few mins at the end. Everyone was quite supportive in my team. We went round the table discussing our ideas and made a pitch. In the end, we were given 10 minutes each to discuss the following:
- How did you feel the discussion went
- Do you normally interact in the way you did in the discussion
- Are there any updates to your application
- Do you have any questions
It was a blind interview and quite casual. I guess its an opportunity for the candidate to mention any additional points that would support the application
We were told to prepare 3 ideas in 3 different topics for a team-based discussion on campus. When we started, we all gave pitches for our ideas in a topic selected by the students in the room. These students then told us to have a discussion to come up with an idea to present to them at the end. We vetted out our ideas by establishing criterion of which idea would be best. In fact, we didnt use one idea, but fused several ideas to eventually come to a consensus on an idea. Then we separated the idea into categories and assigned talking points to each student. We ran out of time shortly afterward.
We had the team-based interview, where 5 other students brought in ideas for the scenario of having a $1M grant from Wharton. We were chosen to talk about social innovation. We started discussing our different ideas and then talked about which criteria were the most important to make the highest impact. Some ideas were discarded completely, whereas other ideas were synthesized as we continued our discussion. Some students kept the conversation from moving by insisting on their idea before others. We finally agreed on an idea and prepared a presentation, but we ran out of time before we could present.
Then I talked individually to one of the student observers. She asked how i thought the process went, and then asked if I had any questions. Overall it was more casual.
The team-based discussion included six interviewees and two admissions fellows. The fellows took notes during the entire session. First, they read the prompt and said they would only interject with timing updates – they also let us decide who would pitch first. We went around the table (not necessarily in order) and each gave an idea. I was lucky to have a great group, which led to a really good discussion.
After the team-based discussion, we were called back into the room for the one-on-one. The admissions fellow said that it was a blind interview – they are not given any information about the applicants’ beforehand, other than the resume. The second-year gave me the opportunity to talk about the group discussion, updates to my application, highlights of my application, and ask her questions.
After my group interview, I had a 1-1 interview with a second year student lasting about 10-15 minutes. The whole interview process felt very rushed as the interviewer kept looking at the clock to gauge how much time was left in our interview. I was asked the following questions with no opportunity to really talk about my background:
1. How do you think the group interview went?
2. Tell me about a time you had to convince someone at work
3. What do you want to do at Wharton?
4. What questions do you have for me?
The interviewer took notes throughout and actually apologized for the brevity of the interview. We spent some time talking about the interviewer’s background and post-Wharton plans. Overall, the entire process was pretty dry but no surprises.
This was a team-based discussion interview. After I signed up for a date on the website, I received an email with two interview prompts. On the day of the interview one of them was chosen. We went around the room every applicant sharing their ideas about the question and then we had a discussion. Towards the end we needed to summarize our discussion. The other applicants were overall friendly.
After this each of us spent 10-15 minutes with one of the second-year students who were observing us. I was aksed the following questions:
1) How do you think the team-based interview went?
2) Was your behaviour typical of how you work in a team?
3) Do you want to highlight anything in your application?
4) Do you have any questions for me?