Have you been invited to interview at your dream business school? If so, congratulations! However, if that invitation is from either Wharton or Michigan Ross, there’s more to it than just a traditional 1-on-1 admissions interview. You’ll also be participating in a live, group session that will influence the final decision.
Using our experience over the past three decades in advising thousands of MBA applicants to these and other b-schools, The MBA Exchange wants to help you understand, prepare for and succeed in this challenging aspect of the application process. For starters, let’s address some common misunderstandings about the group component. Here are 5 myths we want to bust for you:
This is the biggest myth of all. Yes, Wharton and Michigan form teams of applicants, but participants are assessed individually rather than as a group. Furthermore, there are no “interview questions.” Rather, Wharton assigns a discussion prompt as the focal point of the on-campus discussion. Ross announces an ice-breaker topic, assigns a random “word pair” about which participants each craft a 60-second story, and then the team collaborates on how to connect their word pairs with a business challenge and solution.
Not true. In traditional, individual admissions interviews, the school is examining and confirming important aspects of the candidacy like basic business knowledge, self-awareness, career goals, employability, and cultural fit. In contrast, participants in the group session are evaluated on interpersonal communication, level of engagement, leadership skills, and decision-making process in the context of a shared task.
3. I don’t need to prepare and practice prior to my actual group session.
While most MBA applicants have faced 1-on-1 interviews when they applied to college or pursued a new job, few if any have previously experienced a team-based discussion or team exercise with such high stakes. Just imagine how cool and confident you’ll feel walking into the room after having learned, practiced and refined in advance the keys to success. To ensure your very best performance on campus, consider engaging the services of an admissions consulting firm for specialized guidance and practice. This could be the competitive advantage that leads to admission.
4. Admissions consulting firms offer the same kind of experience and expertise.
Not true. When evaluating various resources, first consider the credentials of the firm. Back in 2012, The MBA Exchange was the first in our entire industry to introduce specialized prep services for team discussions and exercises. Next, consider the knowledge of the consultant who will run the practice session. Our consulting team features former admissions officers from both Wharton and Michigan as well as 10 grads from those programs. Furthermore, our clients can choose to work with a former Wharton TBD facilitator who assessed actual applicants.
5. Feedback on your performance will be insightful, valuable and actionable.
All firms provide critical and constructive comments about what you did well or poorly during your practice session. Whether this feedback is verbal or written, the clarity and value of it will begin to fade after your receive it. At The MBA Exchange, we believe it’s essential that participants also receive a password-protected video recording of their session so they can view themselves in action — just as the adcoms will. This value-added feedback helps participants review and perfect their performance each day prior to the actual session.
So, now that these 5 common myths have been busted, what will you do to gain the skills, comfort and confidence to ensure your success at Wharton or Ross?