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Wharton MBA Admissions Interview Questions: Round 2 / Adcom / Off-Campus Hub

InterviewMy 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 also made sure I reminded the group what our objectives were – to pick a lifelong learning topic and method of delivery, as well as one we felt stood a strong chance of being taken along by the school going forward. Eventually as time went by very quickly and my team appeared to be going all over the place, I had to pick up the marker and summarize on the board what we were discussing. The objective was to get everyone quickly focused on the objectives and channel everyone’s thoughts in this line. This was necessary because the group needed someone to stand up and take control of the discussion, which I did.

Eventually we agreed on a topic (not a great one: a mode of delivery and content for the Wharton MBA grads for the lifelong learning programme). I made the presentation on behalf of the group at the end – sort of by default because I had championed the summarization at the end.

The 1:1 interview went quite well and quickly. The first question on how I thought the TBD could be discussed was quite tough as I didn’t really have a response and was quiet for a bit. Eventually I answered from the view point of the challenges I expected to face and how they either had been solved or not. Other questions focused on the TBD and my role in it, how it fits with my on-the-job experiences and more questions about the TBD experience and what the ADCOM member noticed during her observations. Then I had time to ask questions which were more around how the admissions process had changed during her stay and also what it was like living in Philadelphia. We had a good chat and during this I also mentioned how well I know ex-Wharton MBA students and had visited the campus previously etc.

Overall I think one shouldn’t over-prepare for the TBD because it’s a team discussion and your topic won’t necessarily be chosen in the end. Also, focus on making contributions that add value to helping the team achieve the overall objective – eyes on the ball! I think the TBD is an enlightening process and the ADCOM does learn more about the candidate through this process, which the essays and everything else do not reflect. Go Wharton!

Now I wait and hope for the best.