group of cheerful young women studying together

MBA Preparation

Tackling the Wharton TBD Interview

February 14 2023 By The MBA Exchange
Select viewing preference

It’s Wharton TBD time again! Invitations for Round 2 will go out on February 17, so we’re re-posting this valuable article .

You’re among a fortunate fraction of Wharton MBA applicants invited to participate in a unique, challenging and very important group exercise known as the Team-Based Discussion (TBD). You’ve earned this opportunity by optimizing your candidacy, producing a stellar application and having the support of your recommenders. 

However, before you assume that receiving an invitation means you’re sure to be admitted, roll up your sleeves and get ready to shine in your upcoming TBD.

As the first admissions consulting firm to introduce practice TBD sessions, The MBA Exchange has helped many applicants gain the confidence to succeed in the actual discussion. “Fingers crossed” that you’ll be ready if you get your invite? You can do more than that with some solid preparation!

What is the Wharton TBD?

Every b-school uses applications, MBA resumes, recommendations, essays and interviews in their admissions process. However, The Wharton School provides applicants with a unique opportunity to distinguish themselves — the TBD.

Start by reviewing key info on the Wharton TBD interview process, and then get down to the details of your interview prep plan.

How long is it?

Wharton TBD interviews typically last for 35 minutes. That’s how long you have to demonstrate leadership, teamwork and problem solving skills. The TBD period is also a chance for you to show off cultural awareness, ethical clarity and other “soft skills.”

You should also be advised that, immediately after the actual TBD session, Wharton does a 1-on-1 interview with each candidate. Some applicants make the fatal mistake of thinking this conversation is simply a “courtesy” that doesn’t influence the admissions decision. Not true! Every part of the MBA interview process counts.

How many people are interviewed at once?

Each TBD session contains you and 4-5 other elite applicants. Together, you address a real-world business scenario, demonstrating for adcom observers how you analyze, collaborate on, and resolve an issue in real time. The Wharton TBD interview combines the most challenging aspects of traditional essays and interviews with an added element of active teamwork.

Goal of Wharton for this interview

The admissions team uses the TBD to get a first-hand preview of how you’d actually communicate, cooperate and collaborate with classmates if admitted. Your impact, intellect and interpersonal skills on the group are under evaluation during this interview.

What percentage of Wharton applicants get interviews?

Wharton interviews about 40% of applicants. Think about the other TBD participants in the room in two ways. On one hand, they represent future classmates who you’ll be expected to influence, trust and respect. On the other hand, they are your competitors, determined to earn the same Wharton seat you’re eyeing. The prospect of engaging with teammates who are also rivals makes the TBD difficult and stressful as you formulate your point of view.

How do I prepare for Wharton TBD?

Given the seriousness of this element of the application process, you want your prep to be flawless. Here are some essential pointers to follow for Wharton TBD interview prep success.

Know your target

Before the interview, do some research to fully understand the relevance of Wharton’s offerings as well as related innovations in the greater academic and business arenas. Your goal is to show TBD observers that you really “know” Wharton and will bring fresh, actionable insights to the program if admitted.

Research the prompt Wharton provides

At this point, you have a head start. Wharton’s invitation includes a prompt, cluing you into the session’s focus. Read the prompt carefully, ponder the meaning, and plan your opening pitch.

You’ll want to enter the TBD room with a solid, compelling hypothesis for your group to consider. Even if they ultimately choose a different approach, the immediate visual and verbal reactions by your fellow TBDers upon hearing your position will influence how the official observers evaluate your participation.

Choose the very best prep resource

Given the importance of this group discussion, thorough planning and preparation are essential. With dozens of admissions consulting firms offering their own versions of TBD prep, it can feel overwhelming when trying to choose the best option for your candidacy. However, there are significant benefits that serious applicants should consider when considering The MBA Exchange as a TBD prep resource.

In 2012, The MBA Exchange led the entire admissions consulting industry by introducing the first interactive TBD Prep Service. We have updated and refined our service every year since then, based on candid feedback from participants and valuable insights from recent Wharton grads on our consulting team.

Our Wharton TBD interview prep sessions are typically led and administered by skilled admissions consultants who recently served as actual TBD Facilitators and Interviewers at Wharton. This first-hand experience ensures maximum accuracy and authenticity in how we structure and execute the simulation.

Our groups participate via video using “nicknames” for anonymity. Following the session, you’ll receive a personalized “scorecard” that rates your performance and makes suggestions for improvement. And we provide a confidential video recording so you can review and critique the session at your convenience.

If you’ve been invited to participate in a Wharton Team-Based Discussion, let us know. Client success in this final component of the Wharton admissions process is our expertise and our priority.