We regularly receive enquiries about Wharton’s group interview and have begun offering mock team-based discussions for those looking to practice. However, we thought it would be helpful to also analyze Wharton’s interview here on our blog as well.
Although quite innovative among U.S. business schools, group interviews have been used for years by other leading MBA programs, including IMD. Because of their increasing importance for applicants to top MBA programs (Michigan Ross announced a similar move towards group interviews recently), we’ve decided to provide our readers with some advice to prepare for their upcoming group interview, using Wharton as an example.
Perhaps the most important — and often forgotten — mindset to have heading into the group interview is this: You aren’t competing against your fellow group members. You are competing against other groups. Those who succeed at the group interview will often do so as a group, with the stock of all five or six team members rising in the eyes of the admissions committee. On the flip side, those who fail often do so as a group as well. Based on estimated acceptance rate at Wharton (more or less 20%), 2 to 3 applicants in each group should receive an offer (the school interviews roughly 40% of its applicants), and groups that work well as a team can expect to be on the higher-end of that range.
This collaborative mindset should help ease the pressure on you to have a brilliant idea. The exercise isn’t about which team members come up with which ideas, it’s about which team members best advance the group discussion. So if you’re struggling to brainstorm ideas that add depth to the conversation, don’t panic. As long as you’re building on the rest of the group’s ideas, asking smart questions, and respecting the other members in the group, you’re doing your part.
To that point, it’s important to appreciate the value of three character traits the admissions committee will look for: