So What’s Up with the Team-Based Discussion?

As many of you are well aware, last Tuesday, October 1, marked the final day to submit Round One applications. As the 5:00 p.m. deadline approached, I felt like I was back in the trading room waiting for the Non-Farm Payrolls number to come out. If you believe that application volume is an indicator of the relevance of an MBA program, then I’m pleased to announce that our Round One numbers are up.

For those of you who just applied, or are preparing to do so in Round Two, you may be asking yourself – so what’s up with this Team-Based Discussion I’ve been hearing about? Last year, the Admissions office partnered with our Innovation Group to launch this new interview method. Our goal was to give our potential students an opportunity to show us who they are – how they think, lead, communicate and interact. At the same time, we wanted our applicants to experience who we are – a highly collaborative culture that cultivates persuasive rather than positional leadership.

The good news is that last year’s pilot went well.  We have 837 first-years on campus that not only survived the encounter, but have told us that they enjoyed it.  While many prospectives went into the interview with trepidation, they left with positive experience of having a great conversation with a really diverse, intelligent and interesting group of people. As the result of these conversations, interviewees came away from the day impressed by the type of students that they could be in class with and gained a group of contacts going through a similar experience. The early camaraderie was an unintended effect, but one we enjoyed witnessing throughout the process.

Beyond our reasoning for the Team-Based Discussion, I know that you are likely eager to understand the logistics of the interview. Here are some details:

  • As with our one-on-one interview, Team-Based Discussion will be by invitation only. Participation is required to complete the admissions process.
  • Each Team-Based Discussion will be comprised of 5-6 applicants. Teams will be a function of who signs up – there is no ‘crafting’ done on our end. The discussion will have a prompt and a purpose – that is, there is a tangible outcome you will be working towards.
  • Applicants selected to interview will receive the Team-Based Discussion prompt prior to their interview.  We recommend that you spend about an hour in advance preparing for the discussion.
  • Candidates will continue to have an opportunity for a short individual conversation with an Admissions team member, which will follow the Team-Based Discussion exercise.
  • The majority of Team-Based Discussion interviews will continue to be held on-campus and conducted by our Admissions Fellows, a select group of second-year students. We encourage you to take advantage of our visit program when you come to campus to experience life at Wharton firsthand.
  • During each evaluation round we will continue to host Team-Based Discussions in select cities around the world. These sessions will be conducted by Admissions officers.
  • On- and off-campus Team-Based Discussions will be conducted in the same way and considered equally. There is no ‘advantage’ in choosing either option.

Keep an eye out on our website for more information, application tips, and upcoming Admissions events. I am looking forward to taking this journey with you this year.

Maryellen Lamb
Deputy Vice Dean, Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Management