I just came home from my Wharton interview.
This one has been totally different from the previous Chicago’s and LBS’ interviews. There weren’t any questions about why MBA, why now, career goals, or why Wharton, nor any conversation at all.
This year Wharton only makes “behavioral” questions, the same or very similar to all the candidates.
Yesterday I had prepared all my stories to be able to quickly find one that would hopefully fit the question asked. Anyway I knew it was going to be much harder than the previous interviews as I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sell my story or win my interviewer. I think I’m very good on long interviews where I can show who I really am, and not in a sort of “exam” where I’m only asked three questions and sent home.
The interviewer was a Consultant from Wharton (she wasn’t even a Wharton MBA graduate) and her job was to ask me three questions, take a lot of notes during my answers and report the answers and her opinion about these answers (I guess she scored them) to the AdCom.
The interview was in the One International Finance Center in Hong Kong, in Bain & Company offices. I arrived with 20 minutes and was asked to wait. Some time later the interviewer showed up and welcomed me.
Then we went to a small meeting room. She cordially explained that she would ask only three behavioral questions and that she would be taking a lot of notes. She also said that the interview would only last between 20 and 30 minutes.
And that’s all, let’s start. Are you prepared? one, two, three… go!
“Describe a time when you had to work with a team and had to accept the opinion of others”
I think my brain started working at 200% trying to choose the best story. In a few seconds I decided one and I started speaking. I knew I had to talk a lot (at least 5 minutes) and that I should try to “make points”, not only to answer the question. I then started explaining the context of my story, and a lot of things totally unrelated with the question. Suddenly, my brain went blind and I realized I had totally forgotten what she had exactly asked. I knew it was something about team work but with all my brain working on my story I forgot the question. I was just about to say “sorry, what was the question?” but well I decided to continue speaking (and probably avoided a 0 points in the first question). Thankfully, after a few seconds (and a lot of concentration) I remembered the question and I could adjust my story answer it.
At the end it was not bad as I managed to tell this important story. She asked a follow-up question regarding one part of my story but nothing else.
No time for more. While I was drinking some water, she was already asking me the second question. Some thing like:
“Tell me a time when you had to work in a team without a leader”
Here I decided to use my second strong story (so that way I would have discussed about my two strongest ones). I was more calm in this one and I think I made a lot of points :). I took the opportunity to talk about my work in New York in a multicultural team, in projects that involved a lot of communication with Europe, and how we worked in many projects as a team without having any declared manager. Again, I also spoke a lot about other things not totally related to the question…. I hope the girl’s report is not only strictly based on the answer but also reports some other things.
Finally, last question, the end was near.
“Tell me a time when you had to listen others’ view.”
She also said.. “I think this can be also answered with your first response… but please try to find a different story if you can¨
Another story? what? I was totally off the guard. I had to think at least 10-15 seconds to choose one and I’m not sure I chose the correct story. And well, I did it extremely well or extremely bad. Why? because I had prepared this story in case of asking about a “failure” and I used it to answer this question. In brief, someone told me something that I didn’t pay much attention, and at the end the other guy was right and I wasn’t. Therefore, I failed.
I don’t know what the interviewer will think about this, maybe she was surprised that I was honest about speaking about a failure (usually to have failures is something they like, in fact in the Wharton’s essays there is one about a failure), or maybe she will think I don’t pay attention to people in my team, that I’m a bad guy as I don’t listen others or whatever.
The “exam” was finished and I asked some questions about Wharton. But almost all her answers were: “I’m not sure about it”, “well, I’m not an MBA graduate so I don’t know”, “I would have to check that one”, and so on. I probably knew 200 times more about Wharton than her, so I stopped.
She wished me luck and the interview was finished.
Conclusion: I’m satisfied as I have been able to at least tell her three stories that showed a lot of leadership, multicultural and international experiences, successes and…… even failures!. However, I think I talked too much about things that were not very related to the questions themselves, so if she only reports the strict content related to the answers then I have a problem. Anyway, I can think 100 different ways that my interview could have turned worse than it has been, so I should be happy. I hope the failure thing won’t hurt me too much….
On the other hand, I have not liked the way Wharton is doing the interviews this year, when some people seem to know the questions before the actual interview. More about this year Wharton’s interview controversy in Poets & Quants.
Anyway guys, this is OVER!!!! I will leave on vacations this weekend or beginning the next week (still not decided where) and I will try to disconnect. It has been a very tough months and I need some days off to relax.