How To Ace Your INSEAD MBA Admissions Interview – Top Tips And Questions They’ll Ask
INSEAD MBA applicants face two interviews, both with alumni
By Chioma Isiadinso
Attending an MBA admissions interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the whole admissions process. Unlike taking a test or writing your essays, there is no do-over, no opportunity to revise your answers once the interview is over.
To ace your INSEAD interview, you'll need to understand the format and goals of the interview process, and give yourself as much time as possible to prepare.
Understanding the style of the INSEAD MBA interview
In most cases, MBA applicants are required to participate in two separate interviews, both with INSEAD alumni.
Alumni are hugely important at INSEAD. In fact, one of the admissions criteria listed on the school website is the “ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience during and after the program.” So it's no surprise that alumni play an integral role in the interview process, and it should also be no surprise that your ability to contribute to the program will be discussed in the interview itself.
While some top business schools, like Harvard, aim to keep their interviews short and focused, the INSEAD interview is typically more conversational than confrontational. However, you should still be prepared for a thorough dialogue that delves into your background and your path to business school.
One of the primary goals of the alumni interview is engagement. Interviewers want to see that not only are you prepared to answer their questions, but that you have questions of your own. The interview is your chance to find out more about the program and about what life is like at INSEAD, from people who have already gone through it.
Don't miss out on the opportunity! Demonstrating a genuine interest in student life and in making the most of your time at INSEAD is a great way to show the alumni interviewers that you're a serious candidate.
How to prepare for your INSEAD MBA interview
Most top business schools emphasize the importance of a global mindset when it comes to succeeding in their MBA program. But at INSEAD, multicultural understanding isn't just a buzzword used in class, it's a way of life. With a class profile where no one region makes up even a quarter of the student population, being able to gel with classmates in an uber-international student body is an absolute must.
You should prepare for your interview by thinking through examples of your own experiences with diversity and multiculturalism. The admissions criteria indicates that “most [INSEAD] applicants have either worked or studied outside their home country.”
If you don't have that kind of international experience, the interview is the perfect place to illustrate why you will still be a good fit for the school, whether through traveling, working with refugees, hosting foreign exchange students, or anything else that has taught you how to work with people from varied backgrounds.
Your INSEAD interviewers will also be very familiar with your resume and application materials. You should thoroughly review all the material you submitted during the MBA application process, because it will come up during the interview. Be ready to address key topics and questions like:
Walk me through your resume.
Why are you pursuing an MBA?
Why did you apply to INSEAD?
What are your career goals?
These are all pretty standard questions, and while the interviewers aren't looking to trip you up, they are looking for evidence that you've put some real thought into these issues. Particularly because the INSEAD MBA is such a short program, they are looking for applicants who have given serious thought to their goals, and who will be ready to hit the ground running as soon as they're admitted.
Again, the more time you can spend coming up with concrete examples to illustrate your experiences, your strengths and weaknesses and goals, the better prepared you will be for your MBA interview. In addition to the standard topics, the interviewers will ask many different kinds of questions to get to know you, such as:
What do you do for fun?
What do you think your biggest contribution to INSEAD will be?
Where else have you applied?
What will you do if you don't get in to INSEAD?
Alumni interviewers are not chosen at random – the admissions committee tries to match applicants with interviewers who have similar career interests, or other things in common. Ultimately, doing well in your INSEAD MBA interviews isn't about coming up with the perfect answers; it's about having a genuine conversation and connecting with your interviewers.
She's also a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the author of the Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets.
Chioma publishes on the topics of personal branding, leadership development and business school admissions for college students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and executives.