Team Based Discussions are the latest addition to the Business School Admission process at Wharton. The idea has come from a committee that served at the innovation group. Team Based discussions were tested during the 2011-12 admission season and after positive feedback; it is now an official part of the 2012-13 admission process.
Once prospective students are invited for the interviews, they are sent two prompt questions. On the day of the interview, a group of 4 to 6 students are put together, and asked to spend 45 minutes discussing one of the 2 questions. According to Wharton, the point of the interview is not to pick a winner, nor is it to make a final judgment on the candidate. The purpose is to see how the candidate operates. All the group members could be selected, or even none. Wharton is looking at the applicant's thought-process, how they engage with others in the group, their leadership qualities, their intellectual curiosity and their contribution in the discussion. Through this, Wharton also tries to discover what kind of contribution the candidate will make in the class if he or she is selected.
Another reason Wharton came up with this process is to introduce students to the Wharton method of learning, which is based on teamwork and groups. Students on average are part of 15 to 20 teams during the MBA program. Team Based Discussions also help determine the kind of diversity a candidate will bring to Wharton. The admissions team makes no interventions during the discussions, and they add their observations to those made in the interview process to make the final decision about the candidate.
The important point for students to note about the TBD, is that it is not a fight that has to be won. It is about being your own self, and engaging with other members in the team. It is about showcasing individual communication and leadership styles. It is important to enjoy the process, learn something new and contribute to the team understanding of the subject.
The two prompts so far are:
1) The Wharton School is committed to supporting our stakeholders as they acquire and refine the knowledge and skills they need to be successful professionally. As potential Wharton students, what is one key business skill that you think post-business school professionals must have in order to be successful, long-term, in their career?
2) The Wharton School’s mission is to enhance economic and social good around the world by turning knowledge into action and impact. What is the most important societal challenge that could be addressed more effectively by the business community today?