It is currently 18 Nov 2017, 18:51


GMAT Club Daily Prep

Thank you for using the timer - this advanced tool can estimate your performance and suggest more practice questions. We have subscribed you to Daily Prep Questions via email.

for You

we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

Your Progress

every week, we’ll send you an estimated GMAT score based on your performance


we will pick new questions that match your level based on your Timer History

Not interested in getting valuable practice questions and articles delivered to your email? No problem, unsubscribe here.


Request Expert Reply

Confirm Cancel

Events & Promotions

Events & Promotions in June
Open Detailed Calendar

INSEAD Essay Questions Analysis 2012-2013

  new topic post reply Question banks Downloads My Bookmarks Reviews Important topics  
Author Message
Expert Post
MBA Admissions Consultant
User avatar
Joined: 06 Jan 2012
Posts: 365

Kudos [?]: 202 [0], given: 1

INSEAD Essay Questions Analysis 2012-2013 [#permalink]

Show Tags

New post 24 Sep 2012, 10:14
INSEAD's essay questions allow candidates to discuss a variety of topics related to their interests and experiences, thus providing them ample opportunity to present each aspect of their candidacy. The first two "job essays" (which surprisingly INSEAD doesn't count as "essays") ask for a factual account of one’s current position (or lack thereof) and career progression, while the third one offers unemployed applicants a chance to explain themselves .The five "personal essays" call for short reflections and discussion of a variety of topics e.g. strengths and weaknesses, failures, accomplishments, goals etc. With careful thought and planning, you can use these 7 essays to present your well -rounded personality.

INSEAD Website:

“Essays: five compulsory, one optional. We advise you to spend a significant amount of time on your application essays, as they are a critical part of our evaluation process. Your responses to the essay questions provide the best opportunity to be creative and tell us about yourself. We would like to get to know you and to find out what motivates you. The essays are not meant to be academic articles or business memos, but rather your personal stories. Essay 7 is dedicated to re-applications”.

INSEAD’s criteria to evaluate their candidates:

“We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria:: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience." When narrating your stories, make sure they bring out these traits along with other qualities.

Job Essays :

1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

INSEAD’s first question remains unchanged from last year. This question requests a snapshot of the applicant’s career at present. Keeping in mind that this will be the Ad Com’s introduction to your candidacy, you should also provide information so the reader can to understand your place within the organization and the work that occupies your days. Please stay focused on the details of your present job that the essay prompt requests i.e. description of job, nature of work, major responsibilities, supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products ,and most importantly, "results achieved" . Please avoid drifting away to your greatest hits or achievements. You will get an opportunity to do that in other questions.

2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

This question can be challenging and makes you wonder how can you give " full description" of my professional career in less than 250 words. Not only that, you are also required to be specific about your next step if you were to remain in your present job. Hence brevity is the key here. Your best bet is to focus on each full-time position you’ve held ,explain the reasons behind each move , increases and changes in responsibility , and discuss the lessons/ skills learned. It is important to show progress at each stage of your career, which is straightforward if you have worked for the same company and received regular promotions. However, if you have changed companies, make sure to explain the reason how and why you made your career choice. Remember to use your words as precisely as you can.

The second half of the question is tricky, because you need to show that your next position should be more challenging than your current one. But if MBA at INSEAD is your next step, you probably don't need your next promotion.

Essay 3: If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words maximum)

This question shows that INSEAD is not excluding unemployed candidates from admission, if they are utilizing their time productively. So it provides them an opportunity to advocate their case and discuss the new skills they are learning , the volunteer work they are involved in, and any conferences and professional development workshops they are attending , and other efforts they are making to secure short-term employment before MBA. This would validate their growth even during the time they are unemployed.

Personal Essays:

1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

The verbiage of this question remains unchanged, but the word count is made more stringent, allowing you to use 400 words approximately as against 600 words maximum from last year. So your challenge is to be as precise as you can. Roughly you may aim at allotting 150 words to strengths 100 words to weakness and150 words to the main factors that have shaped your character/ personality.

How to brainstorm ideas for this essay?

This question requires you to do lot of introspection. While it is important to address all parts of the prompt: strengths, weaknesses , and main factors responsible for your personal development, it’s important to focus as much as possible on the positive. So you may want to begin with two or three positive qualities and then comment on one or two weaknesses, and then substantiate your personal traits with real- life examples .This question gives applicants freedom to select examples from your personal, professional or extracurricular life , so try to select your examples with a view to presenting a balanced picture of personality.

What two methods you can use to draft this essay?

You may select either of the following two methods for discussing strengths or weaknesses:

a) Make statements about your character and back them up with example as 'evidences' of your statements.

b) Find a single story (from your personal or professional life)) that will illustrate all of your strengths, and, if possible, weaknesses.

When discussing your weaknesses, make sure to explain how they have affected you and what you have done or are doing now to rectify them. If relevant, mention which B-school resources can help you get over these weaknesses.

How you can discuss factors that have influenced your personal development?

Remember that for each personal characteristic introduced, you should reflect on the factors that have influenced your personality. It is up to you if you want to discuss these influential factors while discussing your strengths and weaknesses or after having discussed them


"The stories of hardships faced by my father during his childhood and later his success ingrained in me the importance of hard-work and sustaining through challenges."

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

This question remains the same from last year except one minor difference that this year they have not specified that you may discuss one personal and one professional accomplishment. Whether specified or not, you should still choose to one personal and one professional accomplishment. Instead of providing a list of accomplishments weave one story around your accomplishment in personal life and another one around your professional life. Let your life experience tell the story of your accomplishments.

Since you are allowed to use 400 words, it is in your best interest to allot 200 words to each of your stories.

Also, these accomplishments should tie in to your "strengths" essay. That is, they should illustrate the "strengths" you have already discussed in your first essay.

Your accomplishment story should have the four components: the challenge, the achievement, the outcome/result, and the significance. That is, you should explain why this accomplishment is meaningful to you both in terms of the challenges you overcame, the results you produced, and the lessons you learned.

Example( Personal Accomplishment)

Inter-caste marriages are considered taboo in the conservative Indian society. Therefore my decision to marry my girlfriend Priya, a girl belonging to higher caste, met with severe opposition." (The Challenge)

"In the course of several meetings, I convinced them that I would not only be a loving and caring husband for their daughter, but will also be a good son-in law to them. Also, I convinced them that professionally, I was better placed than most of the grooms from upper caste."( the Achievement)

"Over the course of several months, we developed a bond, and they consented to our marriage." ( the Outcome)

"Now, two years after marriage we are a happy family, and I am proud of myself for not yielding to parental and societal opposition."( the Significance)


For my blog on 'Accomplishment ' Essay' click here

For sample 'Accomplishment' essay, click here

3. Personal Essay 3: Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)

This year, INSEAD has made minor changes in their failure question. Instead of asking about "a situation taken from personal and professional life where you failed," they are now being more specific in requiring you to choose your experiences "from school, business ., military or civil life." Secondly, they have taken away from you about 150 words that they had allowed last year.. That is, instead of 400 words maximum from year, you can tell your story in approximately 250 words , which is undoubtedly a challenge.

To fully address this question, you’ll need to reflect on a life experience when you could not live up to your expectations .You should describe the situation went wrong and why. Make sure to clearly address the second part of this question (the effect) and discuss the personal growth that resulted from your failure/setback. You might also consider closing this essay with a brief comment about how this lesson has benefited you since the time of the initial failure.

Make sure to tell your failure story in such a way that it presents you in a positive light, revealing your strengths.

Lastly, like your accomplishment story should have the four components: the challenge, the action, the outcome/result, and the significance or effect. That is, you should explain how that failure taught you important lessons that you later used in your life to better yourself.


"Last year, a similar situation developed, and despite clear briefing of motives, many teams again showed reluctance to follow the required measures. This time , I did not hesitate to warn the management who took proactive steps to steer the errant teams into place. Thus, the single setback that I faced in my professional life taught me valuable team- working skills that I am now practicing successfully."

4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)

Even though INSEAD is no longer asking you to break down your short term and long term goals, you will still discuss both to show that you have a clear direction of what you want to do post MBA and later.

The second part of the question is to explain INSEAD's role in helping you achieve your goals and objectives because INSEAD expects you to not only have a clear sense of your goals but also of their connection to INSEAD's offerings. So you should have a thorough knowledge of the school’s curriculum, faculty, special programs and extracurricular activities, and explain how you will use them to achieve your goals.

Additionally, even though the prompt doesn't ask you to outline your contribution, to INSEAD, you may throw in a sentence about the value you will add to the school (if space permits).


"I am confident that with my academic potential, team-working abilities, innovative spirit, leadership skills, cross cultural experience and global outlook, I will add significant value to the INSEAD community."


For my blog on 'Goals Essay' click here

For sample 'Goals' essay , click here

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:

a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.)

This question almost remains unchanged from last year except for some change in verbiage in the second part of the question. That is, instead of asking you about the insights you gained' they are asking you 'what it meant to you?" which means exactly the same. Also, instead of 250 words maximum, their specification is now 250 words approximately which may be interpreted as a freedom to use 5% extra words.:)

INSEAD is a highly international program with a 90% of international population, so naturally they are interested in the applicant’s cultural sensitivity and ability to conduct business in an international setting. So if you have lived abroad for at least a few months, you can actually claim to have experienced culture shock which can be translated into o persuasive stories for this essay.

The first part of your story should recount experience/experiences in another country that made you go through struggles and demanded significant amount of adjustment in terms of language, cultural barriers, methods of operation etc. The second part of your story should focus on the resulting growth and the lessons you learned in the process. In short, your story should demonstrate your cultural flexibility, and your ability to operate well with teams of diverse cultures.


(An example of culture shock an Indian applicant employed in a Middle East city received )

"I remember that morning when as usual I went to office canteen for breakfast and found it closed. I was told that the canteen remains closed in the month of Ramadan. I was shocked to learn that even restaurants don’t serve meals in daytime during Ramadan."


b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

If you have not lived abroad, I would recommend you to opt for this question because it expects you to have deep understanding of unique characteristics of your own culture that might not be acceptable to a visitor. The verbiage of this question has been changed this year , and INSEAD now expects you to guide a foreigner who has moved to your country . Prepare a list of things that you feel a foreigner should know or do to start afresh and enjoy their new life in your country. Reflect on aspects of your culture that they would they find surprising or hard to adjust with? For example, if you are an Indian applicant, you may provide useful tips to the foreigner about places where he can find food of his choice, about convenient ways to navigate through the crowded cities, about places he can hang out at, about domestic help he can get for getting chores done etc. etc. A well presented response to this question not only offers you an opportunity to provide the Ad Com valuable insights about your culture, but also serves to showcase your cultural sensitivity to them.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (200 words approx.) This essay is optional.

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give the Ad Com relevant information that you could not give in other essays or other parts of your application. This question is also meant to shine a spotlight on an experience or side of your personality that has not been revealed in the other parts of your application: essays, recommendation letters and resume.

Even though INSEAD has provided you enough ground to cover about your candidacy, you may still use this essay in a variety of ways to further strengthen your candidacy. First, you may use this question to reveal your non-professional side. For example, if you have significant extracurricular accomplishments (sports, music, writing, painting etc.) or a community welfare activity that you initiated or led, you should share those stories. You can also use optional essay to address a weakness in your profile, like low GPA or GMAT , a gap in your job history, or your inability to get a recommendation from your current supervisor.


"The private tutoring job that I had to take up to support mine and my sister's education required me to spend 30 hours/ week and left me with hardly any time to focus on my studies. This eventually ended up pulling down my grades to 70%."


For my Blog on optional essay

For sample optional essay

7. In case of reapplication, please use this page. Your essay should state any new aspects of professional, international, academic, or personal development since your last application. We would also like you to explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. This essay should not exceed 400 words.

The purpose of this question is to demonstrate your growth since your last application. You need to show significant evidence in the improvement in your candidacy. As stated in the essay prompt, your focus should be on your progress in all of these areas: professional, international, academic or personal development. In order to highlight your accomplishments in various areas, ask yourself the following questions:

Ø Did you any significant projects or promotions or raises?
Ø Did you acquire any valuable international experience that you lacked earlier?
Ø Did you participate in a worthwhile community experience that you can boast of?
Ø Did you take any cases or courses to improve your academic ability?

In short, your response should demonstrate to the Ad Com that you have boosted your profile significantly since your last application and are now ready to add value to the INSEAD community.

MyEssayReview - A personalized and dedicated consulting service

Image Image Image

Kudos [?]: 202 [0], given: 1

INSEAD Essay Questions Analysis 2012-2013   [#permalink] 24 Sep 2012, 10:14
Display posts from previous: Sort by

INSEAD Essay Questions Analysis 2012-2013

  new topic post reply Question banks Downloads My Bookmarks Reviews Important topics  

GMAT Club MBA Forum Home| About| Terms and Conditions| GMAT Club Rules| Contact| Sitemap

Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group | Emoji artwork provided by EmojiOne

Kindly note that the GMAT® test is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council®, and this site has neither been reviewed nor endorsed by GMAC®.