How to prepare for your Wharton MBA admissions interview



You have been invited

to interview with Wharton. 


Now what? 



Since 2012, I helped more than 15 clients pass their Wharton Team-Based Discussion and One-on-One

Some worked with me on interviews for one or two hours, others for as many as five hours

In the process, I gained some insights into the Wharton Team-Based Discussion and One-on-One interviews



How do I help clients prepare for the Wharton TBD?

  • First, I listen to their ideas for how to answer the new prompt

  • I check their assumptions and ask them to define key terms

  • Through Socratic method, I help them clarify their logic

  • Then, I listen to how they plan to present their possible answers to the prompt

  • Through this process, I help them gain confidence that their ideas are likely to make sense to others

  • I do not provide clients with answers. Rather, I ask them questions, and listen to their answers

  • Hard work and practice are likely to pay dividends at your Wharton interview





If you want my help preparing for your interview, please complete my prospective client intake questionnaire

I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training





What to prepare before the call / session

  • Send me the information you have received from Wharton regarding your interview

  • I promise to keep everything confidential 

  • Prepare your ideas and possible answers for the Team-Based Discussion and/or One-on-One interview

  • Send me your preliminary notes, questions, and ideas

  • Once I understand how you think, and where you are getting stuck, I will do my best to help you during our call / session 




What I will cover in the call / session 

  • We will start with the Team-Based Discussion

    • I want to hear your possible answers to each prompt option, or "pillar"  

    • If you need help generating ideas, I can help you clarify your logic and ideas

    • I do not, however, tell you what to say, or how to say it

    • Instead, I pull the ideas out of you through dialogue and dicussion

    • I encourage you to record our session for review and self-study 

  • Finally, if you want to practice for the one-on-one interview, please also send me your resume




How to win the Wharton Team-Based Discussion 




I don't think the content of your one-minute answer matters as much as your tone and behavior when collaborating with others


Talk about something you know well 


Share an idea that you feel passionately about


But don't take your idea or yourself too seriously - your goal is not to have the group pick your idea


Rather, you goal is to show love for your group and the group discussion process


What matters most to Wharton - you fit their culture and respect their people


Golden rule - not the cynical version, "The one who has all the gold makes the rules"


Rather, the original version - "Treat others as you want to be treated"


Ask yourself,


  • What does the group need at this moment? 

  • How can I facilitate that need?


You're not trying to be the leader


Nor are you simply trying to be the note taker


I think the situational leadership model fits here



In simple terms, a situational leader is one who can adopt different leadership styles depending on the situation. 


•   Directing Leaders define the roles and tasks of the 'follower', and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one-way.

•   Coaching Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way.

•   Supporting Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is with the follower.

•   Delegating Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.








Blanchard and Hersey extended their model to include the Development Level of the follower.  They said that the leader's style should be driven by the Competence and Commitment of the follower, and came up with four levels:




High Competence High Commitment

Experienced at the job, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. 

May even be more skilled than the leader.


High Competence Variable Commitment

Experienced and capable, but may lack the confidence to go it alone, or the motivation to do it well / quickly


Some Competence Low Commitment

May have some relevant skills, but won't be able to do the job without help. 

The task or the situation may be new to them.


Low Competence Low Commitment

Generally lacking the specific skills required for the job in hand,

and lacks any confidence and / or motivation to tackle it.






Most of all, show self-awareness and self-control


Keep a sense of humor about your performance when discussing it at the one on one interview




Write down the groups and teams with which you work well


Remember the positive and productive discussions that you've had, the business meetings, the conversations where you were able to contribute something and also where others were able to feel comfortable sharing their ideas


I make these videos because I want to pass along some skills to help you live free from negative stereotypes and self-limiting beliefs 


Thanks for watching


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And most of all enjoy the process!




Five ways to fail the Wharton Team-Based Discussion 









what you say



your answers to prompts seem unclear



lack of preparation

lack of critical feedback



team and evaluators doubt your analytical skills



know your material

chose a key business skill or a societal challenge you could discuss for 45 minutes

take a position that you can support with personal examples

defend your position, while acknowledging good points made by others

solicit constructive criticism of your ideas before the real interview




"one key business skill business leaders must have in order to be successful, long-term"


My answer: storytelling

I define storytelling as the ability to convey a message about important information in a way that will engage an audience


Step 1: core problem (business leaders often struggle to communicate important information in a way that will engage stakeholders)

Step 2: immediate cause (why business leaders lack storytelling skills)

Step 3: immediate effect (how lack of storytelling skills might limit long-term career success)





"most important societal challenge that could be addressed more effectively by the business community today"


My absolute answer:

Climate change?


My Wharton TBD answer: 


Problem: children cannot access the best education

Cause: lack of resources

Effect: inequality, lost opportunity for individuals and society


How business leaders can help: provide resources including time, money, and in-kind donations


Business wins

good will with current client base

grassroots marketing (future customers)

tax breaks?



Society wins

educated citizens

innovative workers

dynamic communities







how you treat others



you appear stubborn, inflexible, argumentative



you view teammates as adversaries

they must 'lose' so you can 'win'



team and evaluators think you lack interpersonal skills or refuse to acknowledge your errors



change your perceptions

if you are wrong, admit it

if others are wrong, help them by asking questions and introducing facts that help them recognize flaws in their logic

incorporate others' ideas into your own

prepare to have your idea synthesized into a new form







how others hear you




verbal junk (um, er, ah, well, you know, so)



fear of being evaluated negatively

uncomfortable with the material / insufficient preparation



team and facilitators evaluate you negatively



slow down

say the complete thought in your head before sharing your idea with the group (sometimes hard if discussion is moving quickly)






how others perceive you



overly passive or overly aggressive body language



you feel insecure or threatened



you appear threatening

"60 to 70 percent of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behavior"



manage how you appear to others







how you feel about the situation



caring too much



lack of perspective



you appear desperate



list your options if Wharton does not work out

TBD is only one data point for adcom

keep a sense of humor

remember to smile

remember to breathe





How to fail your Wharton One-on-One Interview 






One-on-One Interview


  • The one-on-one component will be 10-15 minutes in length and an opportunity for you to further converse with a member of the Admissions team regarding your candidacy.

  • While we will have questions for you during this time, we also realize that there are specific aspects that you wish to highlight, such as

    • your reflections on the Team-Based Discussion,

    • aspects of your candidacy that you feel are of particular importance, or 

    • updates on your professional or personal endeavors.

  • This time will also allow for you to ask any questions that you may have regarding the program or next steps in the process.




How to fail your Wharton One-on-One Interview


Please do not fail to close the sale

Insead, use this opportunity to show

a. self-awareness: share surprises and takeaways from Team-Based Discussion (TBD) 

b. judgment: share recent professional and personal achievement

c. passion: ask customized questions that engage your interviewer

d. commitment: make sure they know that you will attend if they admit you


Related articles



for reference


1. Academic Profile: The grade point average (GPA) is not evaluated without considering other demands on the applicant's time such as working while in school and heavy involvement in extracurricular activities.

2. Work Experience: the Committee looks at the nature of work, the level of challenge, supervision and progression of responsibility. What is more important than the industry ... is what he or she has contributed to his/her work environment and what he/she has learned from successes and failures

3. Personal Qualities: the Committee is looking for people who are self-aware, personally and professionally mature,  have a history of being passionately involved in their communities and activities (including work) and  will benefit from and contribute to Wharton

4. Overall Presentation: comes partly from a polished, well-organized application and partly from the message an applicant chooses to send by the tone and topics they discuss in their essays, the type of references they choose, etc.




  • During our session(s), I can help you prepare for all aspects of the interview, which include

  1. Team-Based Discussion (TBD)

  2. Short (10-15) one-on-one conversation regarding your candidacy with a member of the Admissions staff or Admission Fellow, including "reflections on the team-based discussion, aspects of candidacy that the applicant feels are of particular importance, or updates on professional or personal endeavors"

  3. Q&A, where you can ask your interviewer some questions of your own 



  • Sessions are conducted via Skype and/or at my Tokyo office (Japan-based clients may choose either option; clients outside Japan will practice over Skype, preferably using Skype video)

  • Clients are encouraged to record our mock interview session(s) for later review and ongoing self-study

  • Please follow the five sign-up steps below if you would like to secure my time





  • Please complete my intake form

  • Let me know when you plan to interview, and when you want to practice with me

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you



My fees are listed here
  • Clients in Japan pay via bank transfer or cash

  • Clients outside Japan pay via PayPal

  • Japan-based clients that want to pay via PayPal are subject to a 5% handling fee to cover PayPal charges




  • I will give you access to my Google Calendar once payment clears

    • All times are JST (Tokyo time)

    • If you do not find a convenient time, please email me several options

    • I will do my best to accommodate

  • Finally, please follow my cancellation policy

    • If necessary, requests to reschedule appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance of the originally scheduled appointment time

    • Rescheduling requests made less than 24 hours prior to an appointment will be granted at Vince’s discretion




  • During our session(s), I can help you prepare for all aspects of the interview, which include

  1. Team-Based Discussion

  2. Short (10-15) one-on-one conversation regarding your candidacy with a member of the Admissions staff or Admission Fellow during the interview, including "reflections on the Team-Based Discussion, aspects of candidacy that the applicant feels are of particular importance, or updates on professional or personal endeavors"

  3. Q&A, where you can ask your interviewer some questions of your own 


  • I will prepare a list of questions and situations in advance of our session

  • I will not provide you with my list of questions and situations in advance of our session because I want to simulate the conditions of your actual interview 

  • I will take notes during our session

  • After our session, I will send you my question list, as well as the notes I took during our session

  • I charge a one hour (60-minute) minimum for Wharton interview training

    • Clients may also purchase additional time in 60 minute (one hour) blocks

    • That addional time may be used to practice for the Team-Based Discussion and/or one-on-one conversation and final Q&A session

    • It may also be used to discuss interview techniques and strategy, debrief after the interview, draft a follow-up thank you note, disucss waitlist strategies, or plan for reapplication (as needed)

  • After our initial practice, I will provide my professional opinion about how much follow time might be needed, if any

    • I can also refer interview candidates to other counselor in my network for a second or third opinon 

      • Please note, each counselor in my network has his or her own way of preparing clients for the new Wharton interview process


  • Skype-based training can be conducted in one of two ways

    • A one-hour (60 minute session), or

    • A series of two 30-minute sessions (2 sessions x 30 minutes = 60 minutes total)

      • In the first of our two 30 minute sessions, we can focus on the Team-Based Discussion

        • I will select one of the Team-Based Discussion topics from the list you receive from Wharton (and share with me)

        • I cannot simulate a true 5-6 person discussion, but I would ask you to share your ideas about the topic I chose

        • Then, I would engage you in a dialogue regarding the topic to see if we can reach a reasonable conclusion as a two-person team

        • I will assess both the logic of your content and style of your delivery

        • I will be checking to see if you able to defend your ideas without sounding defensive

        • I will also be checking to see if you can confirm the logic of my counter-arguments without completely giving up your own perspective

      • In the second 30 minute session, I would spend 10-15 15 minutes engaging you in a short one-on-one conversation regarding your candidacy, including "reflections on the Team-Based Discussion, aspects of candidacy that the applicant feels are of particular importance, or updates on professional or personal endeavors"

        • I would also simulate the final Q&A, where you can ask your interviewer (me) some questions of your own 

        • Since I am not a Wharton graduate, I will not attempt to answer your questions

          • Rather, I will assess if your questions present you in a positive light and seem likely to engage your interviewer in constructive dialogue

        • In our final 10-15 minutes, I will provide verbal feedback, consisting of constrictive criticism and suggestions for ways to improve what you say and/or how you say it  


  • Face-to-face interview training would last the full 60 minutes

    • I charge a 60 minute minimum to meet you in person, since I might need to travel to my office just for our session

  • Face-to-face interview training would cover everything listed above in the two 30-minute Skype-based sessions  

  • If you want to ask me follow-up questions after the session, I can arrange short (10-15 minute) Skype-based discussions where I answer any questions you send me via email

    • I would charge you for that service since it would exceed the scope of our 60-minute (or 2x30 minute) mock interview training, outlined above

    • I do not want to engage interview-training clients in lengthly email or document-based exchanges since the point of interview training is to SPEAK rather than WRITE

  • Finally, after your interview, I will destroy all hard and soft resume copies to maintain client confidentiality





  • Interviewing is a learned skill

  • You will improve with practice

  • Please practice at least three hours before and after each of our mock interview sessions

  • I encourage you to use my "mirror method" to practice interviews at home

  • You might also want to read Victor Cheng's excellent "Case Interview Secrets" book

    • Wharton's Team-Dased Discussion is not likely to be as challenging as a consulting case interview

    • Still, Victor's book is full of tips and strategies that can help you improve your presenation and discussion skills

      • Highly recommended for every MBA applicant (and admitted MBA student, even if you are planning to enter the consulting field)






  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please complete my prospective client intake questionnaire

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training




  • For clients outside Tokyo, I provide interview training via phone, Skype, or Google Talk

  • If you do not have access to those services, I can provide my office phone number, as well as a US phone number that will connect to my Skype account




  • 〒113-0033 東京都文京区本郷5丁目22-17 Hongō桜House #303

  • Appointments start promptly at your appointed time

  • Please do not arrive early




  • If necessary, requests to reschedule appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance of the originally scheduled appointment time

  • Rescheduling requests made less than 24 hours prior to an appointment will be granted at Vince’s discretion

  • As needed, a client may change a face-to-face session to a “distance” session to be conducted over phone or Skype. Please kindly inform Vince ahead of time





  • Time purchased from Vince is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase

  • If you are not 100% satisfied after two weeks of Vince receiving payment, Vince will refund all the unused time, minus any fees incurred in receiving payment (i.e. PayPal charges)

  • This money-back guarantee does not apply if a client's deadlines fall within the initial two-week period after payment is received





  • Strict confidentiality is guaranteed

  • No client information will be shared with other applicants




Information is subject to change. Please verify all data with the schools.


- Updated by Vince on 11 Mar 2016

  • I have been a full-time international graduate admissions consultant since 2002

  • Based in Tokyo, Japan, I help clients around the world 

  • In 2007, I launched VincePrep because I wanted to help the best candidates aiming for the top schools

  • To share my insights with a talented team, I rejoined Agos as Consulting Director in 2014 

  • Now, I lead 10 professionals who deliver Japan’s best graduate admissions results

  • I also serve as president-elect of The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC)

  • Given my ongoing professional and personal commitments, I accept very few clients

  • Usually, I refer prospects to one of my highly-experienced and successful colleagues   

  • If interested, please complete this intake form

  • Meanwhile, please explore my YouTube channel, and be sure to subscribe for the latest updates

  • Thank you for your interest, and best wishes for your success!


Vince's clients
admitted since 2007
Kellogg  24
Stanford 1
Tuck  8
Wharton  26

+8 Fulbright Scholars

Full list here




"You encouraged me to be genuine, and helped me find the right, true stories that captured who I am. In this way, you offer applicants not only an effective admissions advisory, but also a unique journey of self discovery and empowering dreams."

Harvard Business School Class of 2015, with Fulbright Scholarship (also admitted Stanford GSB)


"First, you limit the number of your clients so that you can maintain the high quality of your services while many other MBA consultants accept clients almost beyond their capacity. Second, you are really great 'catalyst.' Each question you asked me made me think and thus deepened my stories. Thanks to you, I was able to come up with excellent ideas that I could never come up with alone."

Kellogg Class of 2015 (also admitted Berkeley Haas)


More here

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