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Wharton MBA Interview Questions & Report: Round 2 / Second-Year Students / Zoom

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Invited to interview 17FEB (scheduled via portal; confirmation along with details and prompt sent same-day)
Completed the Virtual Team-Based Discussion (VTBD) on 28FEB with two Second-Year facilitators and 5 other (6 total) applicants.

Joined 12 minutes prior to start-time (tested A/V); was allowed into the meeting at exactly 10-minutes prior. Facilitators A/V was off, but they were in the room. Myself and fellow applicants began informal introductions, small-talk [recommend structured intros – name, location, pre-MBA industry, post-MBA goals, any other interesting facts].

Facilitators took over at start time (joined with A/V) and asked for brief introductions (name, current employer, desired Wharton MBA major); reviewed the format and the prompt (Global Immersion Program):

**1-minute (each) pitches, 25-minutes to build (timed), [pause], 5 minutes for final pitch (timed)

They picked an applicant to start with 1-minute pitch (based on Global Immersion Program prompt [it was the applicant in *their top-left of the Zoom]). We then took turns giving our 1-minute pitch (not strictly timed [no timer on the screen], but everyone stuck to the minute. The facilitator then started a 25-minute timer (visible on their thumbnail video). We immediately took turns discussing our options and “voting” on favorite pitches [recommend taking a moment to assign some roles – and decide on a timeline], three pitches had similar “themes” so we narrowed down and quickly voted on a favorite (5 minutes). The individual whose pitch “won” took 2-3 minutes to give more details, and another 2-3 minutes for questions/comments. With roughly 15 minutes remaining, we began refining the 4x requirements and working in relevant elements of the other applicants’ pitches *important step*. With 10 minutes remaining we assigned portions of the final pitch and one-by-one discussed our portion with the individual that did initial pitch to clarify/refine. We considered a rehearsal with 5 minutes remaining, but opted to allow individuals to continue with clarifying questions to iron out their portion of the brief. We finished preparing with seconds to spare.

Facilitator set a 5-minute timer and we did our final brief. All six applicants had a briefing role and each took between :45-:50 seconds. Again the group finished with seconds to spare.

Facilitators didn’t provide any feedback – they immediately opened up separate video chat rooms and one-by-one rotated applicants in for the one-on-one portion of the interview.

One-on-One is 10 minutes (strict timeline). Second-year student stated I could use as much time as I needed to answer the question, and any remaining time could be used for questions for them. Question(s): “Why MBA, Why Wharton?” I took about 5:30 on my answer, and then asked some questions of the second-year student.

I went into the VTBD familiar with the format and timeline, but was still surprised by how quickly the time went. Everyone was very friendly and collaborative, but you could feel some tension (considering we are in a sense competing for slots). It’s important not to dominate the conversation, but equally important to keep the team on task and moving quickly towards a final product. Very glad my team quickly narrowed-down and voted (heard stories of people digging in and defending their pitch over another – it doesn’t matter if your pitch “wins” [statistically you only have a 1 in 6 chance of that anyways] it’s about moving on and working together to build a product. That said, you need to find other ways to find value (keep time, invite an introvert into the conversation, find a way to incorporate someone else’s good idea into the pitch). The one-on-one interview was very straight-forward and shouldn’t catch anyone off guard (you essentially answered the same questions in your application). The facilitator hasn’t seen your application, however, so you can repeat some of the same stuff, but add some color to it to make your self stand out. Also use the time to connect with the second-year student and learn more about their experience and more about the program. Don’t forget to ask for their email “in case of any follow up questions,” but really to send a thank you.

Preparation tip:
Have 3 sheets of notes: 1 with bullet points (don’t read) for your pitch, and space to take notes on the other pitches (keep an eye out for overlap/similarities between pitches – you can add value by being the one to say “I noticed X, Y, and Z pitches all focus on _______, let’s narrow down to that”); 1 with additional notes on YOUR pitch in the event it gets picked (you’ll want more details to provide material for your teammates once you break up the briefing roles); and 1 with space to make your notes for your portion of the final brief (whether it was your pitch that was chosen or not).

Final Thoughts:
Ultimately the VTBD was a unique interview experience, obviously meant to market Wharton’s “learning teams” (as discussed in the Clear Admit podcast). The virtual (Zoom) setting poses its challenges, but if you go in familiar with the format (and well-prepared based on the prompt), it presents a fair opportunity to demonstrate how you work as a member of a team, with a one-on-one opportunity to further sell yourself.

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