2nd in a 5-part series on MBA interviews
While most MBA programmes interview applicants one-on-one, some schools follow a different interview style. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Ross School of Business, for example, use a team-based interview format, where four to five candidates are assessed simultaneously on their ability to work collaboratively. Business school is all about working with others and the aim of these interviews is to test this quality.
If you have a team-based discussion coming up, here are the top 10 things you should keep in mind:
- Be positive and productive. Although the discussion might get heated, don’t raise your voice. Monitor yourself for aggressive body language. Try to understand other people’s points of view and communicate your own respectfully and constructively.
- At the beginning of the discussion, learn the names of the people in your group. This will help you build on someone’s point whenever possible, using their name. For example, “You make a great point Rahul. To add to that, how about we….”. This makes the conversation more personal and engaging and shows your ability to build on a proposal rather than push to have your own ideas front and centre.
- It’s fine to play devil’s advocate. In some cases, doing so may be essential to ensure that all aspects of a problem are considered. However, don’t be argumentative or defensive. Speak to others how you would want to be spoken. It’s important to be able to disagree without being derogatory, condescending, or making a conversation personal.
- Balance should be your watchword for participation. You don’t want to hog the floor, because this interview is not about you shining alone. The person who talks the most in these situations isn’t always the person who gets an admit. However, you also don’t want to be quiet, forgoing participation or letting others intimidate you. If no one’s given you the chance to express your views, you need to find a way to join the conversation assertively.
- Listen. Listen. And listen some more. We can’t say this enough! Be inclusive of everyone participating and don’t sideline anyone. You might know someone in your interview group beforehand and that’s great, but don’t be overly friendly or favour their ideas solely based on your previous relationship.
- If you feel the discussion has reached a point where everyone would benefit from summarising key elements, give a quick update that ensures the conversation keeps moving forward and you stay on track, keeping time in mind.
- Make sure to read the news and be aware of any major updates. You never know how it could prove useful during the discussion.
- Think beyond your country. How will your ideas and suggestions impact other people, cultures and regions? Remember, you are applying for a global MBA programme, so think global.
- Do your homework, especially for business schools where the topic is given in advance. Come prepared with specific ideas and questions to ask. At the same time, be flexible, not rigid. Don’t come with a prepared business model and expect everyone to adopt it!
- Keep the team’s vision and goal ahead of your own agenda. Throughout the discussion, your idea may no longer be considered. That’s fine. Remember, this is a group discussion and the best possible outcome is consensus and an idea you can get behind, even if it wasn’t your original one.
It’s important to keep in mind that the group discussion is only one component of your MBA application. Business schools view this exercise in conjunction with your other material to make their final decision. What you have said or projected about yourself in your written material will be corroborated with interview observations, so it’s essential to be consistent and yourself!
While you’re preparing for your interview, read about how to approach the tell me about yourself question here, find out the difference between admissions committee and alumni interviews here and figure out the best way to thank your interviewer here. For some general interview tips, read this blog.
If you require any more guidance, get in touch with us. Good luck preparing!