Wharton Team Based Discussion: How to Stand Out

You were invited to interview with Wharton, congrats! You’re one step closer to getting accepted. You might wonder what the odds of acceptance are for those who participate in the Wharton Team Based Discussion. Well, Wharton interviews roughly half of all applicants, but only accepts one in five. So, they’re looking to cut the remaining pool by slightly more than half at this juncture.

What Does the Wharton Team Based Discussion Entail?

You have probably read about Wharton’s unique interview format – the Team Based Discussion.  For 35 minutes, two interviewers will observe you and 4-5 other applicants as you discuss a case study that has been provided to you in advance (see below). Each interviewee gives a one-minute ‘pitch’, the group discusses the best path forward, and then presents its solution to the interviewers/observers (typically two second-year students). After the Team Based Discussion, you will have a fairly straightforward one-on-one interview, roughly 10 minutes in length, with one of the two observers. You’ll be asked standard questions such as “why Wharton?” and “why MBA?”.

What is the Wharton Team Based Discussion Prompt?

The Wharton Team Based Discussion prompt for Round 2 is as follows:

“Wharton recently announced the official launch of Wharton Interactive, a venture dedicated to transforming teaching through interactive games and simulations. Wharton Interactive has a unique team of interactive fiction writers, pedagogy experts, game designers, and programmers. This venture is the first major effort by any university to create a scalable and fully automated platform built on simulations, interactivity, and games with a foundation in the latest pedagogical research.

The current offerings through Wharton Interactive are called Alternate Reality Courses (ARCs). ARCs combine aspects of simulations and games with class-based instruction, and create engaging learning experiences based on interactive stories while providing personalized guidance as learners progress. In an ARC, learners make decisions just as they would in real life, through simulated emails, Zoom calls, data analysis, presentations, and more. The ARC reacts to their choices, allowing learners to practice and build skills in a place where failure isn’t critical — so that they can transfer successes from the course to the real world.

For the purpose of this discussion, you and a few of your classmates have been invited by Wharton Interactive to be part of a team tasked with creating the next ARC course to be introduced into the MBA curriculum. As a team, decide on the following: (1) The name of your course and the Wharton department in which it belongs, (2) An overview of the business problem and/or scenario of the ARC game, (3) Two learning objectives (knowledge you will gain in the ARC) (4) Two practice objectives (specific experiences you will encounter in the ARC, so that when you see them in the real world, you will know what to do).”

How Do I Prepare for the Wharton Team Based Discussion?

Aside from drafting and practicing your one-minute pitch, preparing for this interview is tough, as you won’t know the group dynamics in advance and will have to adapt as the dialogue progresses. Our clients have shared a range of experiences, from ones that are very collaborative to others that are more competitive and combative.

Begin by thinking about what the admissions committee is looking to assess: (1) are your ideas logical, (2) can you communicate them articulately, and (3) do you ‘play well with others’ and move the discussion to a better place than it would have been if you were not part of the group.

Three Tips to Help You Stand Out in the Wharton Team Based Discussion

With those objectives in mind, consider the following:

Practice, practice, practice.

Your opening ‘pitch’ is the one element of the Team Based Discussion that you control. Really think through the ideas you’d like to present and practice verbalizing them. Focus on the “why” behind your ideas vs. getting hung up on too many specifics. One minute is short. Don’t get cut off simply because you didn’t run through your pitch in advance. Practice it, then practice it again – out loud.

Think ahead.

Think back to meetings or team settings that have been particularly successful, why were they this way and how can you replicate the dynamic? If there is a leader in your workplace that always seems to drive the group to a solution, how does he/she do this? On the contrary, what counter-productive behaviors have you witnessed in these settings? Don’t exhibit them!

In addition, take note of how you would like to act and react in various scenarios during the group discussion. What should you do if the group gets too far off topic? Would you like to be the one to bring everyone back to the task at hand? Or how will you react if one participant is taking over the discussion? Remember, the goal is for the group to arrive at a solid (note that I did not say perfect) solution and look good doing it.

Be open and adaptable.

Unfortunately, you don’t have control over how the discussion plays out. You can demonstrate teamwork and collaboration in a number of ways: draw ideas out of someone who has been quiet, ask thought-provoking questions about a proposed solution, synthesize multiple viewpoints to help the group reach a conclusion. These are tools in your toolbox and the key to success is using them at the right time (and doing so tactfully). This is far more important than having the group choose your idea / pitch.

Lastly, as you’re going through the discussion, jot down an observation or two about how the group worked together. Candidates are often asked how they thought it went in the one-on-one portion. You want to share something more insightful than ‘I thought it went well’ and this can be tough to do on the spot. Prepare, be yourself, and relax!

Still Anxious? Take Advantage of our Mock Wharton TBD Service!

We completely understand the challenges inherent in individually preparing for a team-based exercise, so we are once again offering Mock Wharton TBD service. The one-hour group video call will gather 4-6 clients who will be interviewing at Wharton to participate in a mock group interview with a format similar to the actual interview. Sarah Chandler, a Wharton alum and Vantage Point MBA Senior Consultant, will facilitate the session and then provide individualized written feedback within 48 hours.

This service is competitively priced at $399. Interested? Simply complete this form. Our team will be in touch shortly with next steps.

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