The row about Wharton's new behavioral interview questions is mostly bullshit.
Yes, I know my opinion is a little late on this one, but I just wanted to provide an alternative POV to what I am reading online. Whether or not Wharton denied they were out in the wild or rogue admissions consultants gamed the system or 2010 round one Wharton applicants were adversely affected - is basically smoke and mirrors. If some consultants went to the darkside, that is not cool. I'm not condoning it. However, it really has no effect on the point of the interview process - to see if you present yourself in a manner that tells the interviewer you won't embarrass yourself or the school should you enter the pearly gates of Wharton or any other top program. In layman's terms - do you have all your teeth, form complete sentences and chew with your mouth closed?
Why is this?
Beyond face value, the new questions are not any different from the old questions that Wharton put forth. Seriously, they really are not.
Let's not pretend interview prep is some black art. The only difference is that each question will provide the opportunity for each applicant to include or leave out an "appropriate" amount of information. That is, the new format is slightly more of an exercise in evaluating when an interviewee knows when to shut up.
Let's get real, if an applicant prepares correctly, they will have no problem answering the following questions - at Wharton or at any other top MBA program. Keep in mind, all schools pretty much as the same questions.
The "new" "behavioral" interview questions at Wharton:
- Tell me about a time when you worked in a group to complete a task, which required you to consider the opinions or feelings of others.
- This is what I tell my clients.
- This is a leadership question that asks you to detail a story.
- Story answers always follow this (trademarked) format - SCARA - Situation, Complication, Actions, Results, Applicability
- Hint: Leadership action means that you are leading other people - so you are in a team - being a good team leader requires considering and reconciling opposing opinions.
- Results are both quantitative and qualitative.
- See if you can take your answer and loop it back to the school.
- If you can't answer a question like this, with 3 to 4 examples, well then, we wouldn't have applied to Wharton ...
- Describe a time when you contributed to a team that didn't have a clear or appointed leader.
- This is what I tell my clients. See the above. Just tweak to cover a power vacuum where you stepped up.
- Every decent applicant should have an answer to this for every school. Think about it, chances are that you already answered this question (correctly) in your essays. It's not rocket science.
- Explain a time when your ideas were challenged, when you had to defend your opinion and/or approach.
- This is what I tell my clients. See question number one above.
- Mix this one up and provide an outside of work example - if you have not done so already.
Before I get flamed, let's examine some old interview questions from year's past:
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- Oh snap, this is basically question number 1.
- A good answer here means providing an example. The same example you could use for question number 1 above.
- The only tweak I would make is to use a Pyramid format, instead of SCARA format above.
- How would your colleagues describe you if you left the room?
- If you were the CEO of your company what would you do differently?
- Dizzamn, questions 2 and 3 here are remarkably similar to the "new" "behavioral" Wharton question 2 above. You can't fool me Wharton.
- For question 2 here - your colleagues would describe you as a leader who steps up to fill a power vacuum. Then they would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
- For question 3 here - you would talk about stepping up as a leader to make sure there was clear organization. Then you would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
- Please give me an example in which you exemplified leadership?
- Please describe a team situation that did not work?
- Questions 4 and 5 here can be answered by the example provided in question 3 above.
TL:DR - The bottom line is that if you prepared correctly for your interview, you know the questions are really the same. All these "new" questions would require is adjusting your approach slightly and perhaps on the fly. In fact, all these questions have been online for years. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Win - Wharton.
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