Don't fear the "group interview"

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It’s great to see students in the hallways again as new Ross MBAs have been making their way to Ann Arbor. Orientation starts next week and more than 450 new students will begin their Ross MBA journey. At the same time, the Admissions team will be traversing the globe to meet future Rossers. We’ve already done a few events around the U.S., but the frequent flyer miles will start adding up quickly in August and September. A listing of our upcoming information sessions can be found here.

 

If you’ve started the application process, you’ve probably heard about the group interviews we’ll be rolling out this year. You’re probably wondering what it is and how they’ll be used in our evaluation. My Q+A video above will answer some of the most pressing questions for you, and I'll detail some of the specifics here as well.

It’s not really an “interview,” it’s a team-based activity intended to give the admissions committee insight into your teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.  All of these skills are critical to success in our MBA program and we found that one-on-one interviews didn’t give us enough insight into those areas. The team exercise is designed to give us that insight.

It’s not a “group” interview since we won’t be evaluating the group. And it’s not an “interview” either because no questions will be asked. Here’s how it will work.

Applicants who are invited to interview will have the option to participate in a team exercise. Participants will be randomly assigned to a group of 4 – 6 people. They will engage in a 30 minute interactive exercise. The first ten minutes will be introductions and an ice breaker. During the next 20 minutes, participants will work together to develop a three minute “presentation” that incorporates a set of randomly distributed words. A member of the admissions committee will observe the team’s interaction and discussion. Their focus will be on how you work and communicate in a team setting. No advance preparation is necessary, and no business knowledge is expected.

High performing teams are comprised of people with diverse backgrounds and styles. Each team member can be valuable in a different way. We expect that there will be different interpersonal styles within our applicant groups. We’re going to be looking at how you interact with the randomly assigned team you’re on. We’re not looking for you to play a particular role (e.g., “leader”) or demonstrate a narrowly defined set of characteristics. It’s about adapting to and actively engaging in the situation. The bottom line is there is not “right” way to behave.

Rest assured that if you think you did “badly” in the team exercise or that you got stuck with a “bad” group, it won’t mean that you’ll be rejected. The team exercise will be one factor among many, including the one-on-one interview, your work experience, GMAT/GRE score, academic performance, essays, and rec letters.  

Applicants always ask, “How can I stand out?” One way is to take advantage of every opportunity to make a positive impression. The team exercise is one such opportunity. Not participating in a team exercise won’t hurt you in the admissions process. But, you’ll be missing out on a good opportunity to demonstrate your fit with Ross.

Participation in a team exercise isn’t a requirement for admission (a one-on-one interview is). In Round 1, team exercises will be held only in Ann Arbor (on multiple Mondays and Fridays). In Round 2, they’ll be held in Ann Arbor and several locations around the world (most likely Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Delhi).  International applicants who want to participate in a team exercise should plan to come to Ann Arbor in Round 1, or apply in Round 2 and attend one of the sessions in the above cities. Exact dates and locations will be posted later.

The team and I look forward to meeting you over the next several months. If you have questions about the team exercise or other topics, feel free to post them in the comments section. 

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Soojin Kwon
  • LEO Adjunct Lecturer of Business Communications
  • Managing Director