How to crush the Wharton Team Based Discussion (TBD) 2023 - 2024
Updated: 6 days ago
Last year, I’ve moderated 3, yes three, Team Based Discussions (TBD) with 15 hopeful Wharton applicants. I had help from former clients who have successfully admitted to Wharton, including this client who got $160,000 in scholarships.
These are my 7 important lessons from the TBDs I hosted. For more insider tips, you'll want to check out my full Wharton TBD guide.
Prepare questions for students: There is confusion among participants over who will actually be running your TBD. This is caused and exacerbated by some unclear articles online. Your Team Based Discussion will be hosted by 1-2 current Wharton students. They have been specially trained by the school to manage the discussion effectively, and to review the participants. Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, admissions staff will only oversee and step in occasionally. Therefore, your 1-on-1 interview afterwards will be with a current student, so you should prepare questions aimed at current students. Check out this blog post where we share questions for your MBA interviewer.
Speak slowly: Lots of the participants in our mock TBD’s spoke much too fast, especially during their 1 minute introduction of their idea. This tended to be applicants for whom English is not their mother tongue, and clients from India tended to be especially prone to this. So, slow it down. As a good guide, 1 minute of speaking clearly is about 120 words. That said, speak naturally and try your best not to sound overly scripted.
Nail the introduction: During your 1 minute introduction, a brief introduction about yourself and your professional qualifications is fine. Include maybe a sentence or two about this. But what the rest of your team really wants to hear is your suggestion for the TBD, and why that’s your choice. So that should be the bulk of your introduction.
Have a timekeeper: Although Wharton now shows a timer on the screen of the Team Based Discussion, it’s still useful to have a timekeeper in the group. Several of the mock TBDs that I hosted this year went over time, even with the time displayed on screen. This meant that participants were scrambling to agree on the presentation structure at the end. So, keep one eye on the time and consider assigning a timekeeper.
Speak clearly: In this year’s TBD you are suggesting locations for the Global Immersion Program (GIP). So naturally, you’re talking about foreign places. Make sure to speak clearly when you’re talking about country-specifics. This includes any names of places or people that are not in English. For these, be especially clear about enunciating these foreign words so your teammates can note them down.
If someone chooses your country: There’s usually a couple of participants who have chosen the same location for the GIP. Normally, through the power of numbers, this becomes the group’s choice. So, if you see several participants suggesting the same location, embrace this to quickly choose your location and make your discussion progress faster into the cultural and professional components.
Save the recaps: Every now and again, having a teammate recap the discussion so far can be helpful for the group. For example, when moving between topics. But participants tend to recap too often, slowing down the momentum of the discussion. So before you recap what’s been said so far, make sure the time in the discussion is appropriate.
I hope that helps. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your TBD.