How to prepare for INSEAD video essays

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A few years ago, INSEAD introduced video essays as a critical part of its admissions process. Every applicant needs to complete these video essays before her/his application to INSEAD is deemed complete. The video essay is a great way for the school to get to know you better. It’s also a unique opportunity for you to demonstrate your personality and creativity, and show that you are passionate about INSEAD.

What is the deadline for the INSEAD video essays?

Applicants receive the link for the video essays within one hour of submitting their INSEAD application. The INSEAD video essays are due within 48 hours of the respective MBA deadline you have applied to. If your video essays have not been completed by then, INSEAD may push your application for review to the following admissions round. There are no exceptions, so make sure that you keep the deadline in mind.

Why does INSEAD have video essays?

In the search for a new student, INSEAD has been using video essays in its admissions process since 2016. A top admissions official explains why.

“We believe that a student’s communication skills are very important,” he says. “You’ll see them in every class situation and in every interaction with faculty.”

Video essays allow students to show their communication skills — as well as their passion for INSEAD’s MBA programme — in a more personal way than written applications alone can.

“We’re looking for depth of interest,” he says, “and video essays allow us to see that.”

INSEAD’s admissions team believes that video essays are a great way to show your personality and passion for the MBA program. The short video gives applicants an opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee why they want to pursue an MBA at INSEAD and what their long-term career goals are. It also gives applicants an opportunity to show how well they can communicate their ideas in an engaging manner.

The video essay is part of INSEAD’s holistic approach to evaluating applications: It looks at each application holistically, which means we consider all aspects of your background when making admission decisions. It does not use cutoffs or quotas when selecting students for interview or admission; rather, it takes into account all the information provided by applicants during the application process — including letters of recommendation, essays and interviews — as well as academic performance at university/college/business school level.

Think of the video essays as putting up the personality beyond the credentials before the admissions committee.

Are INSEAD video essays important?

INSEAD MBA admissions is a very competitive process, and INSEAD has a very selective admissions process. INSEAD video essays are very important for the following multiple reasons:

  1. Video Essays help the admissions committee get to know you better. They can see your personality and how you think on your feet, which cannot be conveyed in a written essay. This helps them understand who you are as a person and how well you will fit into their community.
  2. Video essays are also used to assess your communication skills, which are an important part of INSEAD’s core values. By watching your video, they can get an idea of how you communicate with others, whether verbally or non-verbally through body language and facial expressions.
  3. Video Essays allow applicants to showcase how they think on their feet and how they can problem solve under pressure. This is important for INSEAD.

What is the structure for INSEAD video essays?

INSEAD will have 4 questions, which are to be answered in 60 seconds each. You will get 45 seconds to prepare your response before each answer. The actual answers cannot be recorded again, though the system allows you to practice for as long as you like before you begin answering the four questions. All four questions have to be answered together in one session.

While most of the video essays do not require much preparation if you have done the background work for your INSEAD application, you should still prepare. A majority of the questions will focus on teamwork and decision-making, so make sure you think of examples for each beforehand.

How should you prepare for the INSEAD MBA video essays?

Before you begin preparing, keep in mind that there is no absolute ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer for most of the questions INSEAD asks in the video essay component. The questions are designed to be open-ended, so there is no one correct answer. What INSEAD looks for is your ability to think through a problem and come up with an appropriate solution. Of course, you need to make sure that you answer the question, and not deviate or go off in a tangent.

You should ensure that you go over your goals, reasoning for an MBA, and the reasons you apply to INSEAD. Also make sure you keep experiences related to your key achievements, learning points, and even mistakes handy. Prepare answers that reflect who you are as an individual, not just what you have done professionally (although this will be important too). This will require you to go over your profile, think of some of your deepest characteristics, what drives you, makes you happy, or disappoints you. Going over your resume will help you identify the top achievements you can speak about if asked.

It’s also important to rehearse what you’re going to say so that you don’t sound overly rehearsed or robotic when it comes time for filming. This is not as easy as it sounds because people often come across as stiff or nervous when they try too hard or practice too much before filming. If possible, have someone watch while you practice so they can give feedback on whether you are coming across as genuine or not.

Finally, remember that INSEAD video essays are not just about the what but also about the how. When you are answering a question, tell a story. Take the viewer through how you thought about something, the emotions flowing through you, and what it took to achieve a result.

INSEAD video essay samples / questions

  • How would you help your colleague with a problem?
  • What challenging goal have you set for yourself?
  • What does cultural sensitivity mean for you?
  • If you have unlimited resources, what company will you build to provide a service/product?
  • Why do you want an MBA? Why now?
  • Tell us about a time when cultural diversity had a big effect on you, whether it was a good or bad thing.
  • What do you think of the phrase “when in Rome, act like a Roman?” and why?
  • Tell us about a time you met someone from another country. what did it teach you?
  • Tell me about a time you lived, traveled, went to school, or worked abroad. How did you feel during this time?
  • Do you think companies should think about things other than making the most money?
  • Tell us about a boss you looked up to and what you liked about them.
  • A coworker has asked you to help him or her figure out what to do with his or her career in the future. How can you help him or her get better?
  • What does success in your career mean to you?
  • What would you do if you were a team leader and you had a worker who always fell short?
  • Please tell us why and how networking will help you at INSEAD
  • Why did you choose INSEAD in the first place?
  • If you had a lot of money and resources, what kind of business would you start?

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