Journey of Candidate Who Cracked Wharton’s New Team-Based Interview in 2012-13

Ridhima, Wharton MBA '15

Ridhima Tewary
Wharton MBA 2015

When Wharton announced its new team-based interview format in collaboration with the Wharton Innovation Group in July 2012, MBA applicants were anxious how this new element would affect their candidacy.

Amongst these candidates was 28-year old Ridhima Tewary who then worked at Jabong, an e-commerce retailer backed by Rocket Internet, as Category Manager for Shoes. Ridhima is an alumna of IIT-Delhi. She worked in Strategy Consulting for over three years before she joined Jabong so she could get execution experience to bolster her strategic thinking skills.

When she started with her essays, Ridhima found she was not answering the question directly as she was too focused on talking about a specific story. Through feedback and self-reflection, she started answering the specific question asked, which she says is important.

She has the following advice for applicants:

  • Make sure you answer questions directly, do not approach questions tangentially
  • Take a holistic view of the application
  • Bring out different dimensions of your personality

As Ridhima received an invitation to interview with Wharton in Gurgaon, India, she was asked to prepare an investment thesis along three pillars: Innovation, Global Impact and Social Presence. The premise was that each team of five or six candidates had $1 million to invest in the best idea on one chosen pillar.

The day of the interview, Ridhima showed up at the Gurgaon office of McKinsey & Company and learnt that the other team members in her team were all males with backgrounds in investment, military, social, real estate and e-commerce. They were assigned the pillar: Global Impact.

The group discussion started and the six team members agreed on a process to build consensus:

  1. They would go around the room and each person would present his/her idea
  2. They would discuss and decide a framework for evaluating the merit of each idea
  3. They would vote on the best idea for the investment

Her group was able to accomplish the above tasks and arrived at a consensus within 40 minutes. Ridhima feels it worked to her advantage that she had the self-awareness to let go of her idea early on when she realized there were better ideas on the table.

The team-based format emulates the learning team model that is an integral part of the Wharton MBA experience. In groups of 5-6 individuals, you work on assignments and projects that require working together and building consensus. The fact that Wharton has decided to continue with this format this year is indicative of the process’s success in evaluating candidates.

The 40-minute long team-based discussion was followed by a 10-minute personal interview. Ridhima’s interviewer asked her how she thought she fared in the team-based discussion. Such questions are designed to gauge candidates’ self-awareness.

Ridhima was thrilled to learn she had been accepted into the program. Even though Ridhima is working until the end of this month, she has also been learning about her classmates and is already overwhelmed by the diversity in her Class of 2015.

We wish Ridhima great success in the next two years and beyond!

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