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MBA Admission Essays: INSEAD

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

INSEAD’s MBA admission essays are lengthier than many of their American counterparts, but they are pretty straightforward, with few frills. Keep your answers clear, concise and logical.

Job Description Essays:

Essay 1: Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job; including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (350 words)

Make sure that you provide all of the particulars listed in the question, but focus most heavily on results. You must prove how you have been an asset to your company. Where possible, provide statistics showing growth, or concrete numbers emphasizing how you have achieved results.

Essay 2: Please give 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? (350 words)

MBA admissions board members can see the bare bones of your career progression on your resume. With this question, they are looking for the reasoning behind your career choices. For each position, explain why you made the move that you did, and how it helped you towards your short and long-term goals.
mba admission essays
For the second part of the question, you should show your desire to make an impact. Think about what could be improved in your current company and how you might have a role in that. Share any conversations that you have had about your advancement, and make sure that you provide a concrete vision for where your MBA could take you.

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

If you are currently unemployed, you will need strong examples of how you are still working towards your goals. Where possible, also provide an explanation that casts your current state of unemployment in a positive light. Perhaps you are transitioning careers. Perhaps the time off has taught you more about yourself or the world around you. Perhaps you are facing challenges in your family or personal life. Whatever the circumstances, explain them with candor and conclude the essay on a positive note, focusing on how you will apply lessons learned from unemployment, why you want an MBA, and what you will do with it.

Motivation Essays:

Essay 1: Give a candid description of yourself (who you are as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors that have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (600 words)

For this question, make sure that you balance your strengths and weaknesses. It is tempting to provide three strengths and one weakness, but such an approach could feel dishonest to the committee. I would suggest offering up at least two strengths and at least two weaknesses. Choose your weaknesses honestly. MBA admissions board members do not expect perfect candidates, but they do expect candidates that are self-aware and eager to work on their weaknesses. State your weaknesses and then share how you would like to improve.

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Don’t forget about the third part of the question- the factors that have influenced your personal development. Use examples whenever possible to make these factors stand out. Try to weave these factors throughout your assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, to bring continuity to the essay.
Essay 2: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words)

You have a lot of ground to cover in 400 words. I would suggest devoting about 100 to recounting your proudest achievement, 100 to recounting your failure, and 200 to commenting on what you have learned and how it impacted you. While the board is certainly interested in your achievement, they are most interested in how you will translate past achievements on their campus. Let them know that you have thought about this.

When choosing your achievement, I would avoid accomplishments that mostly benefited yourself. Instead, focus on instances where your actions helped a team or organization. When choosing your failure, on the other hand, focus most closely on your own involvement. You do not want to appear to pass the failure off to other team members. Take responsibility, and show what actions you took to rectify the mistake. Then, move directly into discussing what you learned.

Essay 3: Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or a negative way. (300 words) 

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In the heart of Europe, and as one of the most international schools available, INSEAD attracts students from all over the world. They need to know that each applicant can successfully navigate a multicultural environment. For this essay, you could either share an example of how cultural diversity has opened your mind and worldview, or share how your own cultural background has been a challenge in different situations. Either way, make sure you emphasize what you learned from the situation and how it made you better able to thrive in a diverse environment.

Essay 4: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc.). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words)

Again, the key is not just to list your activities, but to demonstrate self-awareness in explaining how they have shaped you and contributed to the overall trajectory of your life. Don’t worry if you do not have a long list of activities. When it comes to extracurricular activities, MBA admissions board members are generally more impressed by depth than breadth. Focus on the investments that you have made in your chosen activity, and how that investment has paid off in terms of personal growth and development.

For more information, visit INSEAD’s website.

Deadlines: Round 1- March 21; Round 2- May 28; Round 3- July 25