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!
The following is a description of the UPenn / Wharton MBA Admissions Interview Questions from a recent applicant:
I interviewed at Wharton last week, and I did both my Team Based Discussion and Healthcare interview. For the healthcare interview, since I had already spoken with June before I applied, I interviewed with a recent graduate who is helping out with healthcare admissions on a part-time basis this year. She was very friendly and the interview was very conversational. Most of the time was spent discussing healthcare topics and my current work (rather than why Wharton, career goals, etc.).
I arrived about 15 minutes early and chatted with some of the other interviewees. Everyone was very nice and friendly. We were called into three different rooms in groups of 5 or so, and my group was called last.
We were read the prompt, told our time constraint, and then asked to start. Everyone shared their idea, and then I summarized the key deliverables we were trying to work towards and offered to play the role of timekeeper and offered a general structure for how the time should go. We settled very quickly on our topic, and then spent some time discussing the method of delivery. I think that we did a really good job of incorporating each other’s ideas, and building off everyone. My key role was to try and place some of the more divergent ideas into a larger framework, ask clarifying questions, and then synthesize. At the end, we decided to present and split up sections of the presentation amongst ourselves. We then asked the students to stand on one side of the room, who had previously been sitting behind us in opposite corners of the room, and we stood on the other side.
Afterwards, we had an individual interview where we were asked to reflect on our experience. For five minutes, the interviewer asked me questions such as -
- Did your behavior reflect how you normally are?
- What is something that your group could have done better?
- What do you want to say to the admissions committee based on this experience?
- Do you have any updates to your application?
Overall, a very interesting and positive experience. I’m not sure how it would be for someone who was less comfortable jumping into the fray, and I think its also highly dependent on group composition.
My interview was in London with a team of 5 others. I got there 45 minutes early and was the first to arrive. Gradually other team members arrived and we got along talking really well, laughing and getting to know each other. I noticed when the ADCOM member came in–I don’t think others did. She dressed casually and hung back from us for about 10 minutes, most likely eavesdropping on our conversation. I had met her twice on her trips to my country, but instead of going to introduce myself I rather focused on making sure my name came up a few times and was noticeably conversational.
The TBD (Team Based Discussion) commenced, and it was quite obvious from the get-go how everyone had prepared for this. There were 3 guys and 2 ladies: 2 from investment banking, 2 from consulting and 1 from IT. The IT guy who is a project manager got off the block quickest and tried to ensure that we followed a structured approach to the discussion. We had nametags so didn’t need to write names down. The first person didn’t really follow the 1-minute requirement, probably spoke for 3 minutes and her topic wasn’t clear either. After the first round, I felt my topic was the clearest and had the strongest base to be built up on but I didn’t overly push it. Instead as the discussion progressed, I reiterated why my topic was sound but Continue reading…
1. Healthcare portion
I interviewed for the health care major, which involves an interview with the director of the program. I already have a healthcare background so we just discussed my previous steps in more detail and my motivations going forward. It was a logical conversation. It wasn’t explicitly told to me, but I get the feeling that post-MBA job placement marketability is important to them (does your background/profile match with the type of jobs you’re trying to get?)
2. Non-healthcare portion (Team-based discussion)
The team-based discussion was pretty anticlimactic and still baffling to me on its utility. Two 2nd year students essentially just watch 4-6 of you talk about your ideas and see how you move the discussion along over 35 minutes to a final proposition. From my group, 2 of the 6 had long, complicated ideas that weren’t actually bad, but too much for the time limit we had. Most importantly, they wasted significant time on repeating things and slowing us down. It doesn’t take 2-3 minutes to get across that you agree on a minor point. Of the 4 left over (which includes me), I’d say that each of us took charge at different points – I really liked the others simply because they were rational and didn’t waste their words. They also had simple and good ideas that were easier to come up with content for. Eventually, we had a vote and scrambled in the last 5 minutes to organize some nuts and bolts on one of those ideas. For our group, we weren’t overly polite with each other – many of us were worried about the time going by, so we cut each other off plenty of times. I’m not sure if they marked us down for that, but you could rationalize it either way I suppose. I will say that, while everyone was positive, we didn’t fall into the trap of burning 35 minutes of just complimenting each other’s ideas and trying to combine them all into one.
3. Aftermath interview
The 10-15 min conversation with one of the two observers after the team-based discussion was pretty basic. I was asked to assess the discussion, talk about whether that represents my behavior, and say who I would want and NOT want on my team. Also, I was asked if I wanted to reiterate any last points on my application for admissions. Then, I asked the interviewers about their Wharton experiences.
Comments: For the non-healthcare applicants, I felt that the team-based discussion was an odd way to select out the final class. I was surprised regular candidates who made the trip from out of town trip didn’t meet with an actual adult/AdCom member. I think over 90% of the “assessing” really comes from the observing, and the follow-up is just to answer any last questions you may have and understand if there was a very rare circumstance in which your behavior was not representative.
I arrived an hour early to avoid rush hour traffic. This gave me time to get settled and converse with all my group mates. It made me less nervous since I already knew everyone and their backgrounds before stepping into the room. The group session was a bit scattered, since everyone was very diplomatic but everyone wanted their own idea to move forward so ideas just kept multiplying. I and another group mate would occasionally moderate the session by summarizing and suggesting a process to move forward. Our proposal eventually came together, but I suggest that other groups don’t force their ideas forward or shy away from not using other ideas, but focus more on moving the group forward, which is best done by everyone eventually agreeing on one idea. I think it’s also best to always ensure the group is moving forward since your group’s performance is a reflection of your ability to work in a group.
The one-on-one component was a bit tough since there were no questions but just a 15 time limit to discuss whatever the candidate felt like discussing. I think it’s important to keep this conversational and avoid monologuing or rambling. It may also be important to integrate reflections on the tbd, resume/app updates, and why Wharton into the fifteen minutes and ask interesting questions about the school.
Also I believe the cocktails that the Adcom hosts is a great opportunity to redeem/reinforce your performance in the interview and to ensure you’re remembered.
I went to Shanghai for the interview. The first part was a group discussion lasting about 35min. The second part was one-on-one interview with the Adcom. My teammates were very nice, and we had a pretty nice team discussion. Everybody had a chance to talk, but there was one guy who was quite outspoken, taking the role as a leader. He tried to summarize what others had said and gave a 1min presentation at the end. I think the Adcom was quite impressed, and he was admitted.
The one-on-one interview was very short. The Adcom asked:
1) What did I think about the group discussion?
2) Did the discussion reflect my usual role on a team?
3) Go through my resume
4) Any question I’d like to ask?
My advice would be to speak up more during the team discussion and try to be a team facilitator.
My biggest takeaway from the interview experience is that Wharton really cares about your ability to interact with your peers.
I arrived about 20 minutes early and had the chance to meet most of my group members prior to the beginning of our group-based discussion. I also had the opportunity to meet many other applicants as I waited for my group to be called in for our discussion.
Once we were in our discussion room our administrators (two current students) introduced themselves, and then our group went around the table providing similar introductions. Next, the administrators gave us guidance that we would have roughly 45 minutes to complete our discussion and provide a recommendation. The administrators said nothing else until we were finished as a group.
I expected that each applicant would have a strict 60 second time limit to introduce their idea and that the administrators would monitor this limit. My experience was very different. I went last, but all 5 applicants that went before had a very specific plan for their idea and took closer to 2-3 minutes to articulate their idea. I stuck to the 60 second introduction I had prepared, and from that point on, we all dove into our discussion.
All of the group members were very polite, and we quickly settled on the idea that seemed the easiest to work on given our time limit. I could definitely tell the members in the group who wanted to push their thoughts/ideas more than others. One or two seemed content to simply ask questions and only interjected their own thoughts once or twice. One of us acted as the team scribe, and before we knew it, the 45 minutes was up and we presented our ideas.
After the group discussion ended, we filed out of the room and awaited our turn for the one-on-one interview with one of our group administrators. All group members agreed that our group portion went well.
The one-on-one interview felt just as unstructured as the group portion. My interviewer basically said “We’ve got about 10 to 15 minutes. What questions do you have about Wharton?” Moving forward, the discussion was completely led by me.
Looking back, I would encourage Wharton to have their administrators take more of a lead, both in monitoring the group discussion and in providing more perspective in the one-on-one interview.
The interview was a 1-on-1 session with a second year student after the Team-Based Discussion. The interviewer took me to a small office and was pretty pleasant and informal. She had only my resume in hand, but had no prior information about me other than what had come out over the course of the Team-Based Discussion, where she had been a silent observer. I was asked a few questions, primarily about the team interview experience.
1) How did you think the Team-Based Discussion went, and did you feel your team accomplished the goal at hand?
2) What could you have done differently as a team, and what do you think worked well?
3) Was your behavior representative of the way you typically act in group settings? She then gave me a little blurb about how team-focused the Wharton curriculum and culture was, and gave me examples of her experiences so far.
I was also asked a few regular interview questions:
1) What specific quality or qualities do you hope to hone at Wharton?
2) Do you have any updates to your application?
The interview ended after I asked her a few questions I had prepped, and the whole thing lasted about 10 minutes. I would say the only thing that surprised me was how short the interview was, but it wasn’t too difficult to prepare for, as the questions were predominantly based around reflections on the Team-Based Discussion.
The 1-to-1 portion of the Wharton interview was held in a meeting room of an office in a hub city. There was one admissions officer who conducted the interview. She was cordial but also hard to read.
The interview was rather surprising, with the admissions officer simply stating that she had not read my file and asking me to use the 15 minutes in whatever way I wanted. This did throw me for a bit. I ended up using the time to:
1. Describe my views of the TBD component.
2. Give a bit of background (essentially a “walk me through your resume” spiel)
3. Updated her on some recent developments in my career since submitting my interview
4. She asked why I was intending to do an MBA given a fairly strong career trajectory to date and clear expectation of greater responsibilities at work.
5. I spoke a bit about why Wharton and what I hoped to get out of the MBA.
6. Extracurriculars I hoped to do at Wharton
My interview took place in a quiet hotel area – I met the assistant dean of admissions at the Hilton in midtown New York. It was a blind interview, and she had my resume. She was prepared with a full sheet of questions, and she wrote down almost everything I was saying. The interview took about 30 minutes, as there were about 15 questions. What surprised me was that there were a lot of questions about times I had failed/times I had to overcome obstacles. I was more prepared to speak about my accomplishments so this took me by a bit of a surprise. Overall, it was a good and enlightened conversation and she asked good follow up questions to my answers. It seemed like the school genuinely wanted to know about me as a person and what made me different.
Here are the questions for your reference,:
1.Tell me something about your international experiences
2.Tell me about one time you had to overcome an obstacle working in a group and what you would do differently if you had to do it again
3.Tell me about how have you had to persuade others
4.Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned
5.What are the 3 top qualities you think a leader should have
6.What are 3 qualities you look for in a business school, especially our school
I arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled time and had a chat with other participants of the group discussions. We were 5 in total, all males.
Then, we were invited to another room by the adcom representative. After we took our seats she gave a guideline on the discussion format. She took notes and kept time.
Each one of the participants made a brief introduction of his idea. Next, we selected one common idea and elaborated on it. Quite quickly we came up with a constructive idea and added some solid layer of details. Then, one of the guys made the presentation to the adcom rep.
I believe we were very productive as some other groups couldn’t even define their key idea properly. My opinion is that we were lucky to have people with similar professional background (consultants and finance guys) and who are used to make presentations and structure data. Also, everyone was playing it safe and was extra polite, smiling and supporting.
One-on-one interview was blind and lasted about 10 minutes. I was asked to share my feedback on the group discussion and walk through my resume. Then, I asked 2 questions about the school.
Overall, in my opinion, every participant performed well and tried to add some value to the discussion.