Interview Advice for Wharton MBA Applicants
Every year, top business schools receive thousands of applications for admission, but they only admit an average of 25% of those who apply. The story is no different at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Here, about half of all applicants are interviewed, but less than one in 10 are ultimately granted admission. What’s more, no student is admitted without an interview.
As consultants who help clients earn admission to top MBA programs, we know first-hand the importance of interviews. They’re a key component of how the admissions committee gets a full picture of you as an applicant. Also, it’s how the adcomm evaluates whether you’ll fit into the Wharton community.
Our interview advice for Wharton includes three tips that will show your assets and skills off to their best advantage.
1. Prepare for the team-based discussion.
Wharton was among the first business schools in the US to implement a team-based discussion component as part of the interview process. In it, five to six applicants discuss a topic while admissions committee members observe.
This aspect of the application attempts to get a holistic sense of you, outside of a well-written essay or even a well-rehearsed interview. Wharton looks for team players and people who can be analytical while working well with others.
Keep in mind that observers want to see candidates contributing without dominating the discussion. The idea is to see how you might engage in a productive conversation with a group of future classmates. To leave a positive impression, make sure to share your point of view, but also listen thoughtfully. Respect differing points of view and bring others into the conversation.
2. Emphasize your experience as an innovator.
Innovation is integral to Wharton’s brand. This doesn’t have to mean you’ve invented the next billion-dollar app or founded a company. But it does denote someone who creates something that has not existed before — whether that’s a new product, process, or way of seeing the world.
Think of ways you’ve acted as a “change agent” in your workplace or community. Wharton seeks dynamic, energized students who look to change industries, economies, and even their countries. Find examples of how you’ve seen the potential to make things better — and taken action to create positive change.
3. Show your aptitude for thriving in a global environment.
Approximately 40% of Wharton’s students hail from countries outside the US. Having an awareness and appreciation of other cultures is key to an applicant’s ability to survive and thrive at Wharton and in today’s multinational world of business.
Showing global awareness isn’t necessarily about the number of stamps on your passport. Rather, it’s about showing that you thrive in new and unfamiliar environments. In addition, it shows you can successfully navigate the challenges of competing in a global marketplace.
If your career goals transcend borders, make sure to share your planned career path. Also, if you have experience working with global teams, provide examples of challenges and successes. Above all, an honest curiosity and willingness to learn about other cultures and countries will go a long way.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t think of interviews for Wharton or any other top business school as just another hurdle standing in the way of your MBA. Instead, realize this is how the admissions committee tries to get to know you better.
The interview allows you to connect the dots of your personal narrative and tell your story in your unique voice. Emphasizing your strengths and experiences as they relate to qualities that are important to each school’s learning community will help show how you’ll fit in and be a contributing member, and indeed an asset, to that school’s learning community.
Now that you’ve seen our interview advice for Wharton, it’s time to start practicing! Recruit a friend or family member to conduct mock interviews with you. Or, contact us to learn more about our group interview prep services.
If you’re prepared to work well with a team, emphasize innovation in your approach, and share your global perspective, and you could find yourself on the positive side of Wharton’s competitive interview and application process.
Have you been rejected by a round one program? We feel your pain. Take action and get insights on reasons why. The SBC team includes former Admissions Officers from every elite program. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free report on rejection reasons.
This post originally published in 2018 and has been updated.
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