How to Ace Your Team Based Interview [4 Tips for the Big Day]

Learn more about Team Based Interviews!

The key to a good TBD is balancing what to say, how much to say and when to say it.

Last week we shared our tips for preparing for Team Based Interviews. Today we’re going to move forward and offer 4 tips for acing the interview itself:

1. Don’t be confrontational. This is not a debate in which you’re trying to score points. It’s not Crossfire. It’s not a verbal battle. It’s a simulation of what you may encounter in a b-school classroom or group project, and so it’s that vibe and model that you’ll want to emulate. Interviewees should build on one another’s points, contributing to the conversation; they shouldn’t cut each other down with rude or judgmental remarks. Of course you’re allowed to disagree, and you should be persuasive and enthusiastic about your positions, but do so with respect and grace.

2. Think quality, not quantity. Participants are judged on the quality – and not the quantity – of their comments. You should add to the conversation, but certainly not dominate it. Refrain from speaking for the sake of being heard. Thoughtful and succinct comments are appreciated; chatter is not.

Don’t let this tip backfire on you! Qualitative comments are a must, so don’t hold back from speaking because you’re worried that your contributions won’t hit the mark. You need to find a balance – don’t blab on incessantly, but don’t be too shy to open your mouth either. You’re there to contribute; make sure you do!

3. Keep it real. While many of the topics or prompts given may lead you to a world of theoretical thought, you need to work to push through the theory to arrive at concrete points that are supported with evidence from your own firsthand experiences. Business schools are interested in students who have paid attention to their life stories and who are able to draw deep understanding and practical results from them.

4. Keep notes to a minimum. Just as a treatise of pre-interview notes will distract you from the interview action (as we mentioned in last week’s article), so will scribbling notes furiously during the interview. You definitely want to have a pen and clipboard or a tablet available if you need to quickly jot something down, but remember – this is a group discussion and you want to keep the flow of the conversation natural. Taking notes and then reading your monologue will certainly disrupt that flow.

Good luck!

Have a TBD Coming Up? Practice with the pros before your big day! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A MOCK WHARTON TBD!
Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• Get Ready, Get Set, and ACE that Team Interview Challenge!
• Four Tips for the Wharton Interview
Wharton B-Scool Zone

4 Tips for Team Interviews

Click here for more TBD tips

Win an Academy Award for your interview performance

Since so much of b-school life and learning includes team discussions, the adcom needed a tool for assessing how applicants will fit in the team-based discussion culture of their programs. Thus, the Team-Based Discussion (TBD) was born.

In team-based interviews, applicants need to use a different set of skills than they use during traditional, individual interviews. Personal interviews require one-on-one presentation, interpersonal skills, and self-awareness, while team interviews require critical thinking, listening, persuasion, and leadership.

Here are four to-do’s to help you win an Academy Award for your performance in an interview:

1. Review school material. This includes the specific materials that the school provides prior to the interview, as well as all other material about the program. As with an individual interview, you need to know the school well – its mission, curriculum, teaching style, etc. Review the school’s website and speak with current students and recent grads so you get a clear picture of what it’s like to be a student at B-School X.

2. Read Case in Point. This is an excellent book by Marc Consentino that will teach you how to state your position during team-based interviews, and then clearly and succinctly support your position.

3. Role-play. Use family, friends, colleagues, and consultants at Accepted.com to role-play with you. The more in-the-know your mock interviewer and peers are, the better idea you’ll get of how the interview will run on the big day.

4. Take notes. You are allowed to bring notes to the interview, and while you don’t want to read off a piece of paper or even refer to it frequently, it may help you feel more confident knowing that some of your key points are written down in case you need them. You never know how performance anxiety may set in, and if your brain freezes and you completely forget your plan, you’ll be glad you jotted some ideas down beforehand.

TIP: Don’t bring a 400-page stack of papers! You don’t want to spend the whole time shuffling through your notes, making noise and ignoring your co-interviewees while they speak. Paperless notes on a tablet may reduce the shuffle, but they won’t reduce the distraction – keep paperless notes to a minimum as well.

Coming up next: 4 Tips for the Interview Itself  

Have a TBD Coming Up? Practice with the pros before your big day! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR A MOCK WHARTON TBD!
Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

How to Ace Your MBA Interviews
7 Tips for MBA Interview Prep
The 10 Commandments of MBA Interviews

MBA Interviews: Tell Me About Your Weaknesses

How to discuss weaknesses in your applicationsReason for asking the question: To ensure the applicant is humble enough to recognize that nobody is perfect, and to see how introspective he or she can be in an assessment of oneself.

How to prepare: This question requires some real reflection. Nobody is perfect, yes, but one can always be striving to be his or her best self. In a work context, what areas do you need to develop? Where do you find yourself stuck? Is there a consistent theme that comes up in your annual review – something you need to work on? Jot a few things down as you work on answering this question. Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge our weaknesses to others – a natural thing!

Once you have identified a few areas for improvement, think about how to portray those weaknesses so they could also be considered strengths. For example, being too detail-oriented might bog you down with too much work, but it ensures you are thorough, leaving no stone unturned. In this particular example, you are overworked, BUT you also have a strong work ethic.

Important things to remember: As you detail your weaknesses, be sure you also identify how you are working to improve them.

Additional things to consider: Try to have at least two weaknesses to discuss, and don’t have them be situational, such as, “my network is weak since I am primarily surrounded by IT people.”

Do you know the 10 commandments of MBA interviews?
Jennifer Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted.com. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.

MBA Interview Questions: What Questions Do You Have?

Watch our webinar on The 10 Commandments of MBA InterviewsReason for asking the question: To make sure the candidate has all pertinent information necessary about the school, as well as to confirm that he or she has thoroughly researched the program and consequently has thoughtful questions.

How to prepare: This will most likely be your last opportunity to ask questions of the program before you find out the admission decision, so make sure the questions count. Take enough time to consider this prior to your interview, since this is perhaps the only question you can be positive will be asked in the interview. Write your questions down if need be.

You do not want the questions to be procedural in nature, such as, “When will I find out about your decision?” Those types of questions can be asked at the very conclusion of the interview (if necessary), but well after your primary questions. Questions should be well thought out and perhaps give the interviewer pause before answering. After all, the interviewer has had YOU in the hot seat for the last thirty minutes with challenging questions, so you should have some in return!

The best questions are the ones that make the interviewer have to dig deep into his/her knowledge to answer, or better yet, might be ones the interviewer can’t answer then and there. In this case the interviewer will need to check into a question and get back in touch with you. YES! One final opportunity to have a connection with someone critical to your admission decision. Thoughtful questions could focus on “big picture” things like school strategy, trends or specifics related to particular coursework.

Important things to remember: Even if you have memorized all the content on the school’s website, visited campus and already asked (and had answered) all the questions you think you could possibly ever have, you better not have a blank stare, or a simple, “None,” answer.

Additional things to consider: As a general rule of thumb, plan on two-three questions (not of the procedural type).

Do you know the 10 commandments of MBA interviews?


Learn how Jen Weld can help you get accepted!
Jen Weld, has guided clients to acceptances as an Accepted admissions consultant since 2010. Prior to joining Accepted, she served as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program for four years. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing. Let her help you market yourself to top MBA and Executive MBA programs.

Related Resources:

MBA Interview Questions: Why This MBA Program?

Tips on answering the popular "Why MBA?" questionReason for asking the question: To gauge the sincerity with which the candidate is approaching the school.

How to prepare: You need to make sure you show that your reasons for applying to the program go well beyond the obvious reputation, location, or network. Your job in answering this question is to convey your sincere enthusiasm for the school. You need to be as specific as possible. Appropriate topics for a convincing response:

1.  Unique curriculum necessary to reach your goals

2.  Faculty you are excited to learn from

3.  School clubs or organizations you are particularly passionate about joining

4.  Components of the program that intrigue you – study abroad, entrepreneurship project, etc.

5.  Aspects of your visit to the school (provided you have had the chance to visit) that really got you excited about being a part of the community – classroom environment, conversations with students, admissions officers, or other prospective students.

Important things to remember: When preparing your answer, select aspects that are unique to the program, and make sure your answer isn’t one that could be valid for other schools you are looking at. Hopefully this is an easy question for you to answer since you are legitimately excited at the prospect of attending the school.

Additional things to consider: If the school is not a top choice, you still need to do the job of convincing your interviewer that it makes sense to offer you admission, and if admitted there would be a decent chance you would attend. Even if this is a “safety school,” you need to be respectful of the school and interviewer.

Tips to help you ace those MBA interviews!

Jennifer Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted.com. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.

Related Resources:

Why MBA?
MBA Interview Questions: Walk Me Through Your Resume
The 10 Commandments of MBA Interviews