The Wharton School’s MBA program is taking the “alumni” out of alumni interviews.

Recently, Wharton’s MBA program opted to send its admissions officers around the world to interview applicants who cannot physically attend an on-campus interview, replacing alumni who previously filled this role.

Ankur Kumar — Wharton’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid — said this change has been gradually implemented to ensure uniformity across all interviews.

“The shift came after gaining and considering feedback,” she said. “We felt that based on the feedback, it becomes challenging to guarantee consistent delivery of the interviewers and a consistent experience across all of our applicants.”

Kumar added that in years past, the MBA program used a combination of interviewers that consisted of a “select group of second-year MBA students” for on-campus interviews, and alumni and admissions officers for off-campus ones.

Now, however, Wharton only offers two options: interviews conducted by second-year MBA students on campus or interviews conducted by admissions officers off campus and abroad, Kumar said.

In a Jan. 5 article in The Wall Street Journal, some school officials from business schools throughout the country attributed this trend to the fact that not all interviews abroad may be conducted in English, leading to potential discrepancies during the admissions process.

“The candidate might be engaging and insightful in their native tongue, only to arrive on campus unable to read the orientation material [in English], admissions officers say,” the article read.

For Kumar, the decision to phase out alumni interviewers has been due to “opportunities to enhance the feedback and delivery” of the interview process.

While second-year MBA student Marc Montserrat is proficient in English, he said part of his interview was conducted in Spanish.

Montserrat added that, while alumni and staff interviewers each have their own strengths and weaknesses, all may offer different insights for MBA applicants.

“If applicants could get interviewed by both, that would be great,” he said.

Other students agreed, pointing out that alumni interviewers may hold certain advantages over staff members.

“A staffer won’t be as knowledgeable about aspects of student life as recent alumni will be,” first-year Wharton MBA student Chris Kahn said.

Montserrat — a native of Barcelona, Spain — stressed the importance of the interviewers being aware of different cultural aspects.

“They have to be very well-trained in the country they interview in because there are some cultural nuances, for example grades at school, responsibilities you have at work … that these staff members should be aware of,” he said.

However, Kahn also believes there are several advantages to replacing alumni with staff interviewers.

“On the flip side, I think it makes sense in the MBA context because the interview is more evaluative,” he said, adding that it would be logical to standardize the interview process.

Although the interview process is currently experiencing change, Kumar does not foresee this impacting the number of foreign MBA students who decide to apply to Wharton in the future.

She explained that “it’s a personal decision for anyone who is applying” and that “many factors and thought processes” go into it.

“It ends up being a combination of many things,” she said.

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