Is Ross looking for you to be aggressive and a leader or a team player as part of the exercise? “Good teams are made up of diverse people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds—we don’t have a singular definition of what it means to be a successful team member,” Kwon offers in response. “We are going to be looking at how people interact with each other on the team and how they interact with people who have different styles from them.”
Unlike at Wharton, Ross stresses that you should NOT spend time preparing for the group interview. Still, there are some strategic ways to approach this exercise, since the Admissions Committee is obviously looking to assess both your teamwork and communication skills. “The key is NOT to independently have the answer, but to work as a group to develop the strongest answer,” Brown says. “Working as a group means making sure your voice is heard, too—don’t be shy about speaking up. You want the facilitator to remember that you contributed to the solution.”
At the same time, make sure you take opportunities to show that you are a team player, such as following up whatever you say by inviting others into the conversation. “The best example of leadership is being an effective facilitator—which can mean encouraging a quiet member of the group to take part, for example,” Brown suggests. Taking notes and helping delegate tasks would be another good way to demonstrate your ability to both lead and work as part of a team.
“Of course, you want to be sure to show respect for the entire group,” he advises. “Do not interrupt or speak over others—this is one of the biggest considerations in evaluation,” he says. If this can be a tendency of yours, then be sure to overcompensate against it, he suggests. Finally, try to make eye contact with everyone at some point and praise others for their good ideas.
At Ross, unlike at Wharton, participation in the group exercise is optional. “Not participating won’t hurt you in the admissions process but you’ll be missing another opportunity to make a positive impression,” Kwon says. “If I wanted to go to Ross, I’d do it,” she adds.
If it’s optional, why do it at all? Kwon thought some applicants might wonder exactly that and offers an answer in her video blog. “We found that the one-on-one interviews didn’t give us enough insight into how a candidate might engage with other people. The group exercise will help us gain that insight.”
Though the innovative format may seem nerve-wracking to many applicants, the schools that have chosen to implement a group exercise have done so in great part to get a better feel for how applicants will take part in an actual business school classroom. The whole reason you’re going through this application process is because you want to end up in one of those classrooms. So just relax and pretend you’re already there.
We hope this has helped you feel more prepared for group interviews if they’re in your future. Look for a final post in our MBA admissions interview series later this week, in which we’ll take a look at schools that have added pre- and post-interview essays, schools that require applicants to interview more than once and more. So stay tuned!
See the other parts in our MBA Admissions Interview Primer series: