A recent Businessweek article reveals that the Ross School at the University of Michigan plans to conduct team-based interviews as part of the acceptance process for its MBA program beginning in 2014. The new interviews will include a number of candidates and will allow the admissions committee to witness how candidates communicate. Ross will be the second school to incorporate this element into its acceptance process, joining Wharton.
The school has already conducted trials of team-based interview and now faces the difficulty in planning these interviews ahead of the coming season, including finding a joint time and place for the purpose of conducting the interview. For the trial stage, some candidates who came for personal interviews were asked to participate in a group interview, with the assurance that it would not affect their candidacy. About 110 applicants participated in team-based interviews run by alumni and second-year students.
The team-based interviews will entail candidates sitting around a table in groups of 4-6 with at least one interviewer. They will be initially given two random words and ten minutes to prepare a presentation that somehow connects the two words. Afterwards, each group will receive a sequence of random words and 20 minutes to prepare a group presentation that will employ these words in relating to a problem and relevant solution.
The admissions committee at Ross has explained that the team-based interview enables them to get a greater picture of the candidate and to see how he or she will function in the classroom and school community. These interviews are preferable in their opinion to personal interviews to which candidates prepare ahead of time answering questions they found on the internet. In a team-based interview, applicants must cope with a situation to which they could not have prepared ahead of time and improvise while interacting with others.
The nature of the team-based interview at Michigan is slightly different than that at Wharton. At Wharton, candidates are divided into groups of up to six and given 35 minutes to prepare and present their conclusions and recommendations for a question they had received in advance.