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

Are Schools Reducing Their Number of Admissions Essays?

Applying to Stanford GSB? Check out our Stanford application essay tips!

Is Stanford a trendsetter?

Elite schools like Yale, Wharton, and Stanford looked like they were starting a trend in cutting the number of required admissions essays for applicants, but according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 business school admissions officers survey, most U.S. MBA programs haven’t followed their lead. The survey indicates that just 13% of the participating 204 business schools say they reduced the number of essays for this admissions cycle, compared to last year. Only 3% of schools plan on further reducing the number of required essays for the next application cycle.

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Brian Carlidge, “Our survey finds that the overwhelming number of MBA programs continue to see value in applicants submitting more information about themselves. From what we’ve seen, the business schools that have cut their number of admissions essays are doing so to streamline the process, believing they can get what they need from applicants through fewer, more focused essays. While it may sound counter-intuitive, some applicants may find fewer essays and lower word counts difficult as it forces them to be more succinct. We encourage all aspiring MBAs to put effort into their essays, no matter the number or word count, as this piece of the application gives them the opportunity to show admissions officers why they’d be a good fit for the school in a way that their GMAT score, undergraduate GPA and work experience cannot.”

Analysis.

I certainly agree with Kaplan that MBA applicants need to put serious effort into their essays regardless of how many there are, but I found the disconnect between the highly publicized drop in essays for top-ranked programs vs. the relatively constant number of essays for lower ranked programs curious.

I’m going to indulge in speculating about the causes of this discrepancy:

The competition among the elite programs is intense. Application volume is a factor in rankings and also in perception of a school’s panache. Since more application work essentially raises the cost of applying, more essays could mean fewer applicants for these highly competitive programs. And they don’t want the hit to their application volume.

Perhaps lower ranked programs are more concerned about yield than about application volume. They want to accept people who put a little more effort into their applications. That effort implies the applicants are more invested in the application and are signaling more strongly that they really are interested in attending the programs they are applying to.

Finally another thought that really calls into question the validity of the Kaplan conclusions: While the Kaplan survey asks specifically about essays, it doesn’t discuss information being collected in short-answer responses and in boxes in the application. Many schools, notably HBS, have moved much of the information gathering to these boxes and short-form answers as opposed to the essays of a few years ago.

It’s a mistake to assume that those short-form answers are any less important than the essays.
MBA 5 Fatal Flaws
Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
How to Answer “Mini” MBA Essay Questions

The Wharton Executive MBA Program: An Insider’s View

Click here to listen to the show!

Diane Sharp & Kathy Lilygren

In this week’s podcast episode of Admissions Straight Talk, Linda Abraham speaks with the Wharton EMBA program admissions directors, Diane Sharp and Kathy Lilygren.

Be sure to listen to the full recording to learn what they are looking for in applications, when to apply, and what the EMBA program has to offer.

00:01:00 – You asked. Linda answers! She provides 5 key steps to help an MBA applicant prepare to get accepted in next year’s application cycle.

00:07:20 – The Wharton Executive MBA: What is it and whom is it for?

00:08:00 – Enjoy electives? Wharton EMBA has lots to choose from!

00:10:00 – Global Experience Element: What is it? Where will it take you?

00:12:29 – Global Modular Program – What is gained by this program?

00:15:20 – FT MBA vs PT EMBA Wharton programs.

00:19:34 – How much do MBA, EMBA and Wharton alumni network?

00:22:00 – Philadelphia and San Francisco Wharton Programs. Which campus is best for you?

00:24:50 –  Stand out Wharton executive MBA grads: Steve and Don.

00:28:50 – How a Wharton EMBA can facilitate career change.

00:31:50 – Time management: Absolutely critical.

00:34:00 – How to make your Wharton application stand out (in a good way!).

00:40:20 – What NOT to do on your application

00:43:00 – Fact or fiction:  A 700 GMAT is necessary for acceptance?

00:45:00 – The GMAT is your friend?!

00:46:55 – Diane’s and Kathy’s parting words and great advice.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

Related Links:

• Liveslow’s comment
• Wharton 2015 EMBA Essay Tips
• The Wharton EMBA
• Contact Wharton EMBA

The next (and last for 2015 admission) Wharton EMBA deadline is February 10, 2015. So if Wharton EMBA appeals and you are reading this around the time we post this podcast, you still have time to apply.

Related Shows:

• Wharton’s Health Care Management Program with June Kinney
• Globla Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
• Nexus of Business & Law: Penn/Wharton’s JD/MBA
• Mike Hochleutner of Stanford’s MSx
• A Transformation Year: The MIT Sloan Fellows Program

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

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From Rwandan Advertising to Wharton Entrepreneurship: The Unconventional MBA Path

Read more MBA student interviewsThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Mary Patton S. Davis, a first-year student at Wharton.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where are you in business school and what year?

Mary Patton: I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, which some may argue is not the South, but I beg to differ. Tampa is culturally Southern in many ways, and most of my family is from Alabama – hence the double name. I moved “up north” to Washington, DC to study French and International Relations at Georgetown University and graduated in 2010. I was always convinced I would work in government and security/intelligence, but life had other plans! That’s how I wound up at Wharton, by way of East Africa, to enter the class of 2016 with a focus on Entrepreneurial Management.

Accepted: Looks like you’ve been doing some really interesting work in Rwanda. Can you tell us about some of your recent jobs and projects there?

Mary Patton: My path to business school has been a very unconventional one. After Georgetown I joined political communications firm GMMB, working on media buying for the 2010 midterm elections and account management for political action committees. In the summer of 2011 I traveled to Rwanda to visit my older sister Elizabeth and the organization she founded in 2009: the Akilah Institute for Women, a three-year college specializing in hospitality, information technology, and entrepreneurship for young women from low-income rural communities. I fell in love with the country and the organization, and Elizabeth asked if I would move there to build their communications and marketing strategy. So I did what any responsible, rational person would do: I quit my job, sold my belongings, and moved to Rwanda in January 2012 for an indefinite period of time. It can take a giant leap of faith outside your comfort zone to discover your true passions, but I believe it’s one worth taking!

I built out Akilah’s marketing and communications throughout that spring and summer. At the same time I had begun teaching horseback riding lessons on the weekends and met the owner of the barn, a well-known expat businessman. One weekend he mentioned he was looking for someone to build a digital marketing department and drive new business development at his advertising agency. My response was, “Interesting, but I can’t think of anyone who fits that description.” He laughed and replied, “No, I want YOU to come in and interview!” You never know where your next job offer will come from…

I began working for the ad agency that summer, and stayed with them for over a year and a half. I became Director of Operations, tackling projects from refining internal processes, to landing new clients, to expanding our digital marketing services. Through this job I realized my passion (and aptitude!) for management, business development, and “intrapreneurship”, which led me to apply for an MBA. Managing a team of twenty-five people at the age of twenty-four impacted me greatly both personally and professionally, and was an opportunity for which I’ll always be grateful.

Accepted: What is your post-MBA career plan? Is it related to your work in Rwanda?

Mary Patton: I came into Wharton with several areas of interest, knowing that my post-MBA career plans would involve some, if not all, of them: Africa, technology, entrepreneurship, and fitness. My passion for fitness and entrepreneurship grew out of a company I co-founded while working at the ad agency: Yego Yoga Rwanda, a chain of yoga studios operating in six locations across Kigali with eleven instructors. I’ve furthered this interest here in the US by continuing to teach yoga and developing several business ideas in that area. For now I’m focused in that direction but who knows, maybe I’ll find a way to pursue all four of these interests!

Accepted: Do you have an internship lined up yet for next summer? If so, what will you be doing and what was the internship application process like at Wharton? If not, what steps are you taking now to plan ahead for the summer? How early does internship recruiting start at Wharton?

Mary Patton: There are many recruiting timelines – it all depends on what industry you’re pursuing. Mature recruiting (mostly for finance and consulting) begins as early as mid-October, while start-up recruiting doesn’t intensify until the spring. I’m personally interested in tech and start-ups so my recruiting hasn’t begun yet, although I’ve had informal offers from tech companies in Africa and start-ups on the West Coast. Right now I’m focused on working on my own business idea, so entrepreneurship is my number one summer internship choice!

Accepted: Can you tell us about your involvement in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?

Mary Patton: I believe it’s important to surround yourself with the type of people and situations that support your long-term goals, so I knew I wanted to immerse myself in the entrepreneurial environment of the WBPC. Given my background, my biggest value-add to the planning committee is in a marketing role. As Director of Marketing my mission is to grow awareness of and engagement with the WBPC both within the Penn community and without. I’m excited to see what this year’s competitors have in store for us, and how the WBPC contributes to future Penn-born businesses! To learn more about the competition, visit us at http://bpc.wharton.upenn.edu/.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Wharton so far? Is there anything you’d change about the program?

Mary Patton: My favorite thing about Wharton is how holistic the growth experience has been. Wharton is fully committed to developing students not only academically, but also professionally, personally, emotionally, and socially. All at once, Wharton is exciting and terrifying; rewarding and challenging; social and lonely; invigorating and exhausting; intellectual and obnoxious. Without all of those emotions, you wouldn’t be getting the full experience.

The only thing I would change: I wish there was more interaction between the Penn grad schools. I would love to have more opportunities to meet fellow students from the law, med, engineering, and education schools. I think this would enrich the experience for all of us, and keep us from talking about our econ problem sets and statistics projects all day long!

Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips for applicants aiming to go to Wharton?

Mary Patton:

1)  Be unique.

Admissions officers sift through thousands of applications looking for the diamonds in the rough. Imagine them sitting around at the end of the day recalling and discussing hundreds of essays – how will yours be remembered? When I met Wharton’s Director of Admissions at Winter Welcome Weekend, she exclaimed, “Oh, I remember you! You’re the yoga girl from Rwanda who worked in advertising.” How will your application stand out? What interests/projects/talents/experiences make you unique?

2)  Paint a compelling story.

Regardless of whether your career path is streamlined or as unusual as mine, your application should show progress and a desire to grow professionally and personally. Draw a clear thread throughout your jobs and experiences to demonstrate how you’ve arrived at this point where you feel compelled to apply for an MBA. Did you change jobs to follow your newfound passion for that industry? What extracurricular activities support your interests and show your proactive nature to learn more? How have you challenged yourself and stepped outside your comfort zone?

3)  Be clear about your ambitions.

Now that you’ve explained the narrative behind your career path, be clear about what you plan to do post-MBA. Schools want to see direction not only in your actions up to this point, but also in your goals beyond the MBA. Even if you don’t know the exact job you want three years from now, offering examples of what most interests you in a long-term career helps give schools an idea of how you’ll fit into their MBA class. Make sure to also explain WHY – what problem are you most passionate about solving? Which industry are you most intrigued by? What types of jobs most excite you?

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What role does social media play in your life?

Mary Patton: I started blogging while backpacking through SE Asia and India, but since starting school I’ve pivoted from travel to business-related topics. I naturally identify and write about topics I find interesting; luckily other people find them interesting too! I like to highlight topics that are relevant to my peers – global and industry-agnostic, but with a focus on entrepreneurship and technology.

For me personally, my blog keeps the creative side of my brain alive during the quantitative and analytical MBA experience – my biggest problem is finding time to blog as much as I’d like! Our generation is increasingly social and transparent, so I think it’s important to confront that issue head-on by taking control of your personal brand. My blog is a “stretch experience” for me and connects me to interesting people and opportunities – such as this interview with Accepted.com!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for Wharton see:

You can read more about Mary Patton’s journey by checking out her blog, MP is for Mary Patton. Thank you MP for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

 

You CAN get accepted to Wharton!

Accepted - The Premier Admissions Consultancy

 

 

 

Related Resources:

Meet Ashley: A Wharton MBA Student Making an Impact
Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
Wharton 2016 Class Profile