HEC Paris MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

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These essays give the adcom a well-rounded view of you – they go beyond what you’ve done to capture how you think and respond, even how you imagine. Moreover, they require you to communicate complex thoughts and experiences in few words. For the four short essays especially, don’t waste words on conventional introductory and concluding paragraphs. Jump right into your point or story, and use straightforward sentences that avoid wordy constructions (e.g. “had the opportunity to”); don’t feel shy using direct, declarative sentences. This writing approach has an added benefit: it conveys confidence. Since there are several essays, I suggest first sketching out ideas for them all, then stepping back to see how all these facets add up as a whole, and adjusting topics if/as necessary to avoid redundancy and ensure a well-rounded presentation.


1. Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words maximum)

This is a traditional goals question with a couple of twists.

• First, the “why now” part should be explicitly addressed, even if it seems obvious. Briefly is fine – the essay overall should make this case ultimately.

• Second, the “professional objective” is essentially your long-term career vision. The question implies that this vision or goal will drive your preceding steps, so present your shorter-term goal(s) in that context: show how they pave the way for you to pursue and achieve your ultimate professional objective.

• Be brief but specific when discussing the HEC MBA – tie directly to goals, and detail the 2-3 points about the program that are most meaningful to you.

Finally, connect the dots. This essay, well done, will convey how your goals grow organically from your experience and are achievable given your past experience and an MBA from HEC.

2. What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words maximum)

Most significant life achievement – for many people, work accomplishments may not rise to this level. Imagine if, for example, you state that boosting your organization’s bottom-line (by whatever amount) is your greatest life achievement – the adcom might wonder about your values or whether you really have a life. If you can say that, while boosting the bottom line, you also saved jobs or lessened negative environmental impacts, that would be more substantial.

For many people, this story will be personal – I think of clients who have persevered through, managed, and overcome major family crises. For others, it will involve impact with community, religious, and/or social organizations or groups; for yet others it could involve a major milestone such as a national sports ranking or photo exhibit or music performance.

Whatever topic you select, with only 250 words, simply narrate the story and include the results or impact. It should be perfectly clear from the content why this is indeed your most significant life achievement.

3. Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you (250 words maximum)

Again, keep the structure simple: tell the story, and end with a brief discussion of how the experience has influenced you. It may seem like a challenge to identify an experience that encompasses both leadership and ethics. However, addressing an ethics challenge will almost inherently require leadership (often informal), whether on your part or someone else’s. When you explain how it influenced you, don’t just state generalities; give a specific example.

4. Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words maximum)

This essay is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself. Describe an imagined life that reflects something meaningful to you. Make it vivid, show your passion. Note that the question does NOT ask what you would do if not in your current life/role; it asks you to imagine a life. Use that openness to express your creativity, passion, and interest vividly. In doing so, however, avoid being abstract. Weave in and employ your actual knowledge and experience, e.g., if you love ballet and are an avid ballet-goer, you could build your imagined life in a way that uses your knowledge of and passion for dance. The reader would learn something interesting about you – and your prospective contribution to the social milieu of the program.

5. Please choose from one of the following essays: (250 words maximum)

a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?

b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.

c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc.).

All these options are equally good – choose the one that resonates the most with you; the one that you want to answer. It’s another opportunity to showcase your interests and passions. The “why” part is key: avoid platitudes, be specific and present focused, fresh insights.

6. Is there any additional information you would like to share with us?(900 words max)

This question invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a bad grade, etc.) as well as to present new material that will enhance your application. If you choose to do the latter, make sure it’s a point that is essential for a clear and full picture of your candidacy. They give you a lot of words to work with; don’t think that you must use all 900!

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

If you would like professional guidance with your HEC MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the HEC application.


The program features rolling admissions and guarantees a response 5 weeks after the application deadline. You can apply throughout the year, for either January or September intakes.

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One

***These dates apply only to our January 2018 intake



Cindy Tokumitsu  has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!



Related Resources:

HEC Paris: Why to Go and How to Get In (podcast)
Leadership in Admissions
5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays

This article originally appeared on blog.accepted.com.

Applying to a top b-school? The talented folks at Accepted have helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to their dream programs. Whether you are figuring out where to apply, writing your application essays, or prepping for your interviews, we are just a call (or click) away.

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