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The Wharton MBA Interview: Expert Tips for the Team Based Discussion

Fortuna Admissions, tailoring your MBA application

If you are one of the fortunate candidates to recently receive a Wharton interview invite, it’s likely you’ve seen the outline and expectations for your team based discussion (TBD).

Now it’s time to define a smart strategy, including how to develop a strong pitch and set yourself up for success. These insights are informed by the decade I spent at the helm of Wharton’s MBA admissions, as well the recent experiences of our clients at Fortuna Admissions.

Since its debut at Wharton in 2012, the TBD has become an essential part of the MBA assessment. It reflects the Learning Teams model at the core of the Wharton experience, and the admissions committee is keen to observe how you present yourself, confront challenges and collaboratively seek solutions within an intimate group context. It is an opportunity to highlight what you’d contribute as a future student at Wharton in terms of your personal presence and as part of an effective team.

The TBD generally includes four or five additional candidates. Your discussion will have a prompt and an end goal, and the group will work collectively to propose a tangible outcome. After brief introductions, the team has a little more than 30 minutes to generate a subject and presentation model that is ultimately shared with the admissions committee observer. After the TBD, there will be a one-on-one debrief, lasting about 10 minutes, with an admission representative. As you can imagine, the time moves very quickly.

Be ready to present your own ideas carefully and precisely with an element of situational awareness. You will be assessed on the ways you listen to others, interact and facilitate the group’s dialogue and your collaborative leadership. Fortuna’s Brittany Maschal (former member of the admissions teams at Wharton, Princeton and Johns Hopkins) offers detailed guidance in her video strategy session on preparing for team based discussions. Below is a brief summary of Brittany’s four top tips on how to bring your best to the table:

  1. When creating your one-minute pitch for TBD, introduce yourself briefly to present a sense of your background and discuss why the idea resonates with you.
  2. Build out your idea and be prepared to be the go-to person equipped with an additional layer of information if it is selected by your teammates.
  3. Wharton has a very robust alumni network and a world-renowned faculty. Think about the people upon whom you can draw upon to strengthen your program.
  4. Wharton cares about what you say AND how you are saying it.Be conscious of how you present yourself and engage with the group.

For all the details on developing your persuasive pitch, along with additional insights on success factors, read my full article, Insider Tips For Wharton’s Team Based Discussion, in Poets&Quants or view Brittany’s video blog strategy sessions.

Fortuna Admissions Co-Director Judith Silverman Hodara is the former Wharton head of admissions. Fortuna is composed of former admissions directors and business school insiders from 12 of the top 15 business schools.


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