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INSEAD MBA admit - application and interview tips (for all schools)

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Joined: 29 Mar 2011
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Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Finance
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INSEAD MBA admit - application and interview tips (for all schools)  [#permalink]

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New post 15 May 2019, 22:40
Hello folks,

I have been admitted to the INSEAD MBA class of 20J and will be starting school in a couple of months. Wanted to share some of the strategies I used in in the process. While some of these would be specific to INSEAD, quite a few would be applicable in general as well.

Application Stage
  • Start early. Give at least 2 months for the essays, 3 if your job is hectic. Which means make sure your GMAT is done with before that period. And plan your GMAT with enough room for a retake in case the score doesn't match up to your expectations in the first attempt. I was done with my GMAT 6 months before the application deadline and started on my essays 3 months before.
  • If there are specific schools you are interested in, speak to alums and admission consultants to understand if your profile is suitable. Almost all admission consultants will do a 30-min profile evaluation. They can also advise on the GMAT score you need to achieve for the target school. Do this well in advance so that if required, you can still do something to plug the missing gaps. I was specifically targeting INSEAD and I spoke to about 10 alums and 7-8 admission consultants to get feedback on my profile and the gaps I could plug in the few months leading up.
  • Specifically connect with alums who are working in your target industry and geography. Know about how the MBA helped them get there and how they benefited in general.
  • INSEAD has very clearly defined four criteria on which candidates are evaluated - International motivation, Ability to contribute, Leadership Potential and Academic Capacity. Academic capacity is pretty much determined by your past grades and GMAT. Which basically means that you need to bring out the other three themes through the application. While framing your stories for the essays, make sure each story is addressing at least one of these themes. And at a cumulative level you need to address all three of the remaining criteria.
  • Having a logical career goal is important. The MBA should be a bridge between where you are currently and where you want to be in the future. It is good to mention the specific skills you want to pick up during the MBA. And it is a major plus point if the school's strength lies in the same areas.
  • Mix up your essay stories from different stages of your life. Say, for instance, one from your undergrad days, one from some volunteer work you did, a couple from your workplace, etc. Don't put every single thing in from say a 2-year period. Show that you have progressed and learnt throughout your life.
  • Have an outsider review your essays to get an independent viewpoint. The person need not be familiar with the school. The idea is to get a sense of whether the essays make sense and send across the messages you want to communicate. Specifically ask if that's happening successfully.
  • Recommendation letter are very important. Get letters from those who have worked with you for a substantial period of time. Ideally a year or more. But even 6 months+ is ok for one of the recommenders. The recommendation letters should substantiate the attributes you have highlighted in your essays.The recommendation letters should mention unique aspects that set you apart from peers and how you have grown over the period you worked with the recommender. The overall message should be that you they see you as a future business leader.
  • Specifically for INSEAD, the recommendation letter should have stories that address the 'Leadership Potential' and 'Ability to Contribute' criteria. If you have international experience under the recommender, the letter should also speak about how well you were able to handle that experience. 'Leadership Potential' need not be formally leading teams. Can be demonstrated otherwise too such as coming up with a new initiative, stepping up and taking extra responsibility when needed, etc. 'Ability to Contribute' criteria should cover area you contribute to beyond your usual job responsibilities. Contributing to tasks/projects that come under your job responsibilities is expected. What you do beyond for the team/firm and help in its growth should be highlighted.
  • Use the optional essay to address any aspect that you feel hasn't been addressed. However, make sure it doesn't run too long. A maximum of 200-300 words should be fine. Typically most people use it to explain career gaps, low grades or choice of recommender. But don't feel shy to use it otherwise. However, do not put in irrelevant stuff that doesn't add value to your application. I used the space in my application to write a more bit about the 'Ability to Contribute' criteria as there were certain points I couldn't cover in the other essays.

Interview Stage
  • Career goals will definitely be asked. Make sure your explanation is full proof and logical. Unlike essays, there's no word limit here. So if needed put in those extra couple of sentences. However, it shouldn't be a 5 minute speech.
  • Why XYZ school will also be asked in most interviews. Make sure the reasons align with the goals. Speak of specific subjects or professors aligned with your areas of interest. Mention about the clubs that you will be interested in and the career opportunities this school will offer in your target industry and geography. Speak about 1or 2 alums you have spoken who are working in the area you want to go to and mention how highly they recommended the school.
  • Come prepared with the clubs and electives that are offered and choose a few that interest you. Again it should ideally align with your career goal so that the interviewer can connect the dots. I was asked in one of interviews about the electives I would want to take up.
  • Do at least one mock preferably with an alum. The feedback would be most relevant.
  • There will definitely be some situational questions. Talk about a time you did XYZ. For such stories it is better to identify some common themes and have a list of stories which you can fit into the themes. Ideally there should be 2 stories for each theme and both stories should be from different aspects of your life. Some common themes are - Resolving a conflict, Negotiating, overcoming language barrier, convincing a senior/client, etc. What I did was create a 2x2 matrix. One axis had these situations. The other axis had the different stages of my life - undergrad college, volunteer work, masters degree, company 1, company 2 and committee 1 (a leadership role I had in my masters). I now filled relevant stories into the intersections.
  • Prepare in advance the questions you want to ask at the end. Make sure the questions are not generic. If it is an alumni interview, it is good to ask about the alum's MBA experience and how the learnings and the network helped them in their life and career. If its a recent alum, ask about courses or professors he/she would recommend.
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Re: INSEAD MBA admit - application and interview tips (for all schools)  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2019, 23:55
Can you share your email id?

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Re: INSEAD MBA admit - application and interview tips (for all schools)  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jun 2019, 09:06
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Re: INSEAD MBA admit - application and interview tips (for all schools)   [#permalink] 08 Jun 2019, 09:06
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