21 interview questions Wharton asks MBA candidates


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Getting admitted to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is no easy task. After a rigorous application and interview process, only about 14% of applicants are accepted.

One way of improving your chances is studying and answering as many sample interview questions as you can.

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, helps clients earn admission to top MBA programs. She has an undergraduate degree from Wharton and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Over the past decade, Blackman has studied successful Wharton interview transcripts and put together an interview guide featuring sample questions. The questions are broken into three categories: teamwork, leadership, and communication.

We've selected interview questions and possible follow-ups in each category from Blackman's Wharton interview guide.

Teamwork questions

Teamwork questions cover how well you work in team settings and how you handle conflict. Sample questions include:

  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a weak team member.

  • Tell me how you have addressed the opinions of others in group situations.

  • Tell me about a time you encountered conflict in a group and how you handled it.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What did this experience teach you about yourself?

  • How have you applied this knowledge to your work and/or personal life?

  • How did the rest of the team feel about your actions?

Successful answers will reflect "an ability to empathize with others and understand both the practical skills and the emotional needs of others on the team," Blackman writes. It's also important to recall your own thoughts and feelings when describing your actions.



Leadership questions

The key here is to provide proof that you've stepped up and made an impact in your personal leadership experiences. Sample questions include:

  • Tell me about an experience where there was no formally appointed group leader.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to build a team or lead an effort.

  • How would you describe your leadership style?

  • What is your definition of leadership?

Possible follow-up questions:

  • How did you get others on board with your project?

  • What specific strengths do you think contributed to your success?

  • Do you feel you made any mistakes during this process?

"When choosing examples to discuss, you'll want to tell stories that truly define your attributes as a leader," Blackman writes. "You may have had a number of leadership experiences, but which one had the greatest influence on your leadership development or highlights significant aspects of your leadership style?"

Communication questions

Your communication skills will be examined in two ways: how you persuade others and defend your ideas. Sample questions include:

  • Tell me about a time you had to persuade others to agree with you.

  • Discuss a time when your ideas were challenged by others.

  • How have you navigated a professional disagreement?

  • What are characteristics of effective/ineffective communication?

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What were your initial thoughts when you encountered resistance?

  • Have you changed your presentation style as a result?

"Outside of all of the modern tools and technologies at our disposal, a person who makes an impact must communicate in a way that impacts others, earning their respect and encouraging them to follow the lead," Blackman writes.

Closing questions

At the tail-end of the interview process, it is common for Wharton to give you the opportunity to take the lead with questions like:

  • Is there anything we haven't discussed that you want the admissions board to know?

  • Do you have any questions for me?

This can be an opportunity for you "to highlight any strengths you weren't given an adequate occasion to discuss," Blackman writes.

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