The wharton group interview where ambiguity equals opportunity
The Wharton Group Interview:Where Ambiguity Equals Opportunity http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/
The Wharton Group Interview:Where Ambiguity Equals Opportunity Four days ago was October 23rd. A relatively uneventful day for many humans, but a big one for a select group of Wharton applicants who received an interview invite. It’s obviously a magical moment to get that letter, err, email that says that mighty Wharton wants to talk to you.
The Wharton Group Interview:Where Ambiguity Equals Opportunity However, this year that feeling of excitement is lasting for about two seconds for most applicants as it is quickly replaced by a feeling of uncertainty. That’s because Wharton has partnered with the Wharton Innovation Group to come up with a whole new style of interviewing … the group interview.
Enter the ominous organ music!Our job today is to explain why this is notso new, not so crazy, and – most of all –not so scary. In fact, for applicants whoare A) cool people, B) nice, C) able to walkand chew gum at the same time, and D)intelligent, this is going to be a walk in thepark. More to the point, it’s going to allowthem to outshine the jerks and the peoplewho used smoke and mirrors to get to thisstage.
ContinuationPart of this is because ambiguity equalsopportunity for the deserving. It’s aphilosophy we have been fond of here fora long time and it’s why we only work withqualified applicants (judged less bynumbers and pedigree and more throughan hour-long consult, which measures notjust work experience, talent, potential, andvision, but also personality and individualvalues).
ContinuationFor someone truly deserving and trulyawesome, the more ambiguous the situationand the less of a road map that exists out there,the more they will crush their less-deservingfoes. If you are someone who isn’t very nice,isn’t very smart, or otherwise got an interview toWharton that you know (“deep down in placesyou don’t talk about at parties,” to quote JackNicholson from A Few Good Men) you didn’tdeserve, then you might very well fail in thisparticular exercise. It’s pretty cut-and-dried andthere aren’t any shortcuts.
Continuation(Indeed, one could surmise thatWharton is, in fact, trying to cut outpeople like us [admissions consultants]or even powerful alumni, supervisors,friends, or current students – you couldreasonably argue that they want to limitpreparation so that they get a moreunvarnished look at the truecandidates.
ContinuationThis isn’t a bad theory, but it’s onewe don’t buy. Rather, we have itnarrowed down to either Whartonwanting to honor a core tenant of theschool by being “innovative,” or theywant to appear to be doing that tomake a splash. We’ll go with theformer since it’s more positive, butboth are definitely in play.)
ContinuationOkay, so we covered the “it’s not thatscary,” part (well, if you are a deservingcandidate), but let’s also talk about why it’snot that new or unique. For starters, thereare MBA programs in the EU, such asIMD, that have been using these for quitesome time. More notably though, thegroup interview dynamic has been part ofmany medical schools’ “Interview Day”since the dawn of time (loose estimate).
ContinuationMed school applicants for years have gonethrough a hellacious grind of showing up fora breakfast, taking tours, visiting classes,being interviewed – all as a group – andthen spinning off to do a series of individualinterviews. If these guys and girls – most ofthem in their early 20s and many collegeseniors – can hold up to that, then surely abunch of highly accomplished professionalsin their mid 20s to early 30s can handle a45-minute group interview. Right? RIGHT? You can do it!
ContinuationNow, it’s all well and good for us tohuff and puff about how this isn’t thatscary and it’s not that new and alsotry to guilt you into marshaling yourcourage by pointing to some premedstudents. However, it would also behelpful, we suppose, to share a fewother pieces of advice. Just knowthat these are more or less commonsense, because common senseshould be your guide here.
1. Show up early.Don’t chance it, don’t risk it, don’t assumethere will be parking. It’s bad enough to belate for an interview, but to show up andinterrupt other people (presuming Whartonwould even allow you in), is basically theworst sin you could commit because youwould be showing a lack of respect for yourpeers, which is surely one of the very thingsthis is designed to evaluate. Which remindsus…
2. Don’t talk over people.It’s rare, but every so often we willhave someone who takes us up for afree consult, gets on the call … andthen talks over us the whole time.Remember that we are experts theyhave asked to speak to and areconsidering paying, yet they won’tlisten and just keep interrupting.
ContinuationMany are capable and impressive onpaper, which means maybe they arereading this right now, Whartoninterview invite in hand. Please, forthe love of all that is good and holy,let other people have the floor andfinish their thoughts. Along thoselines…
3. Listen.Now for this one, we are as guilty asanyone else for often thinking ofsomething great to say while othersare talking, rather than listening towhat they are saying. We don’t knowhow these group interviews will playout beyond the idea of bringing in aone-minute prepared “speech” ontwo separate topics
Continuation(we’re not going to post the topics,because it’s not our content to post – restassured you can find them all over theInternet, at all your favorite blogs lookingto drive traffic). That said, we know thatit’s a group and that once everyone hashad their say, there is going to be aconversation, with many people talking.Our advice is that you relax, enjoy it, andLISTEN to what people are saying, ratherthan formulating your next geniussoundbite.
4. Remember the individualinterview.For our clients, we are telling them, basicallyto “just do what got you here” for the groupinterview … and then turning our attentionback to solid, rigorous, philosophically soundprep for the individual interview. Ultimately,the group interview is an experiment and it’sa chance for them to filter out punks, brats,and (to put it bluntly) people who can’t hackit.
ContinuationHowever, for them to determine whoreally has passion, vision, and aconnection to Wharton, they aregoing to have to put a lot of stock inthe solo interview that follows.Whether it’s 15 minutes like it is here,30 minutes like it is at HBS, or anhour like it is with many alumnimembers from various schools, thatis where you have to shine as aperson and a candidate.
ContinuationOur guess is that a great number ofcandidates this year will get all hypedup about the group interview andforget to really put in the time andthought to perform to their bestabilities in the individual aspect.
ContinuationOverall, for all the hand-wringing andsupposed complexity surroundingthis new interview experience, it’sactually really simple: smart, earnest,conversational, and polite people aregoing to stand out. If you are one ofthose folks, you are in great shapeand all you need to do is take a deepbreath, relax, spend the hourWharton recommends prepping yourtalking points,
Continuationpractice your one-on-one interview,and then go have fun with theexperience. If you are not one ofthose people, we’re sorry to say thatthis isn’t something that prep,practice, or smoke-and-mirrors isgoing to help you with.
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