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I've finished my application, but every time I use the "Check Your Progress" button, I get the message that I've only filled out 76 out of the 77 required fields. And I can't figure out which field I'm missing, even when I use the "Highlight Fields" option!
So I just finished up my interviews this week -- overall, I think it went alright. I have no idea whether I did well or not though, since I am usually nervous in interviews...
Both of my interviewers were local alums, so they were pretty easy to schedule time with -- first interview was with a director of corporate strategy (my intended elective area) and the second was with an entrepreneur.
Interview 1: Met up with my interviewer at a local restaurant -- interview structure was informal and conversational.
This first interview was my first MBA interview ever, so needless to say, I made a few (hopefully minor) mistakes. I completely glossed over one of my jobs when talking about my career progression, and had to go back and fill in that gap. I was also asked what I did outside of work, so I went into hobbies, etc. -- but forgot to talk about my extracurriculars as well, so we never covered that portion.
On the other hand, both my interviewer and I have post-undergrad consulting backgrounds, and my career path was almost an exact match (different industry, but same desired position for me). So talking about my reasons for an MBA and for choosing INSEAD were pretty straightforward.
Overall interview was about 55 minutes over lunch -- he had to leave early for a meeting.
Interview 2: Met up with my second interviewer at a local coffee shop -- interview structure was very casual as well.
Learned my lessons from the first interview this time around, so I didn't seem to make any major mistakes. Questions were very similar, but we had a great conversation as well about our travels and about his positions pre and post-INSEAD (he has a very diverse and eccentric background). He was a recent graduate, so he had great insight into classes and program details as well.
The interview ended up lasting about 1.5 hours.
To summarize, I found both interviews to be distinctly casual and both alums were very down-to-earth and friendly, structuring the interviews as easygoing conversations rather than stress interviews or interrogations.
As has been mentioned before, be very prepared to discuss the questions:
- Tell me about yourself. - Describe your career progression. - Why an MBA? - Why INSEAD? - Short-term and long-term goals?
I also received questions about my leadership experiences, interests outside of work, cross-cultural experiences and conflicts and about what books/newspapers I was reading. So figure that any of those could come up as well.
Wow, much earlier than I expected! Having just finished my LBS and INSEAD interviews, I think my preferences are much less clear-cut than I had originally thought -- I could definitely commit to either school now. Both interviews were great in providing significant insight into the pluses/minuses of each. We'll see what happens...
Prashok, I'm curious, why LBS? I'm wondering whether to apply or not, but it just seems so expensive (especially considering the cost of life in London and the fact that it's two years) and I really don't see anything which makes it better than INSEAD... Am I wrong? What differentiates LBS from INSEAD to justify spending so much more in the former? Would love to get your opinion on this. Maybe I should apply in case I don't get into INSEAD... In any case, good luck to you for both schools!!!!
Hi Virflo -- thanks, good luck to you as well! Yes, cost is also a concern for me about LBS. US citizens at the school have access to our government loans, so that helps to an extent.
One factor is indeed the program length -- I'm not 100% sure if I prefer one-year over two-year yet. I'm in consulting now and plan to remain in the field post-MBA (at least in the short-term), so to an extent, a shorter program does have some appeal. But I would still be moving from systems integration consulting to management consulting, so it could be considered a career switch, too. Because of that, some of the LBS-exclusive elements like the second-year consulting project, summer consulting team or the availability of internships do appeal to me for their role in helping facilitate that move. It also seems that a significant portion of consultants coming out of INSEAD to the M/B/B firms were already sponsored by them to begin with (I don't know the stats of this for LBS, though). In retrospect, it may have been better for me to have applied in the R1 intake for Jan 2010 for INSEAD (for internship availability). With all that said, it does seem like a greater percentage of students at INSEAD are recruited into consulting compared to LBS (though both schools are targeted by the top firms).
In terms of international focus, I think both are pretty well-matched. They each definitely have higher percentages of international students than the US schools, which is a major draw for me. LBS has a language requirement as well, though INSEAD's seems to be more comprehensive due to it being three languages instead of two.
Location-wise, I have not visited Fontainebleau yet (going next week -- hopefully I don't get dinged before then!), but I do have a preference for London, despite the cost. I am looking at the UK and Australia for post-MBA work location, so LBS is conducive there as well (I would hope to go on exchange to AGSM or MBS in Australia, if I could get access to their recruiting). On the other hand, similar to the availability of exchange programs at LBS, I like that I can still do campus exchange with INSEAD -- I would definitely try to do all three campus programs if I matriculated there. And I think having Singapore and Wharton could make the recruiting scale at INSEAD much more global than at LBS (I would be open to other regions for recruiting depending on the opportunities).
On a more intangible level, I do like the student-community aspect at LBS. INSEAD seems like it is less oriented towards clubs/activities, while at LBS, they stress it even in their essay questions. It makes sense, given the more accelerated timeline for the one-year program.
So overall, still a tough decision for me if I am lucky enough to be admitted by both. I was definitely all about LBS at first, but the INSEAD interviews greatly increased my interest in the school (both of my interviewers were very enthusiastic and had similar backgrounds to me, as described in an earlier post). Considering that three months ago, I didn't think either school was realistic at all for my profile, I would be very happy at either, I think.
I'm also applying to some 2 yr programs and just can't decide what I would prefer doing (first, let's see where I'm accepted ). There's the (actual and opportunity) cost of 2 vs 1 yr, but in a 2 yr program you can definitely spend more time on clubs etc + you get the opportunity to do an internship... so it's a tough call...
In terms of consulting, I'm positive you can't go wrong with INSEAD. I believe close to a third of the class end up going into consulting... they have so many alumni in the biggest firms, it makes it a lot easier for students to be hired by one. Not sure about LBS... although the brand name is excellent so I'm sure you'd be able to find a consulting job too.
As for location... well, I lived in London for 2 years and it is an amazing city!! So much to do, so many places to see, easy to travel to the rest of Europe, great restaurants, bars, etc... It really is great!! Although with an MBA budget, I think it might be a little tough to live there... Fontainebleau, on the other hand, is a really really really small city... it's an hour away from Paris (where I live) and there really isn't much to do there... it's kind of a "dead" town... there are many beautiful castles though (notably Le Chateau de Fontainebleau) and if you like the countryside, you'll be happy there . Even students live in castles where they host amazing parties all the time! I've heard very good stories from these parties ...I 'm applying to Singapore though. I'm a big city girl, and really want to discover Asia. Apparently, students in Sing go on weekend trips to Malaysia, Bali, etc... God, I hope I'm accepted!!!!
Hopefully you get accepted to both and then have to decide... really wouldn't be bad choice! And you wouldn't go wrong either way... good luck!! (and maybe meet you next year!)
Great points, Virflo! I agree that the cost-of-living in London could be a problem as well. I will probably have to top up on loans even further for that reason.
I applied to Singapore as well, though now I am thinking I should have gone with Fontainebleau as my starting campus choice. In any case, I am definitely interested in trying for all three campus programs, so hopefully it shouldn't be too difficult to switch between each. I have spent more time in Asia than Europe, so Fontainebleau should be an interesting change. I'm more of a city person as well, though...
Re: INSEAD - September '09 intake
08 Dec 2008, 01:33