HEC Paris MBA Essay Questions & Tips

HEC Paris is one of the leading MBA programs in Europe, offering a 16-month program of study with two intakes: January and September. HEC Paris has five required essays and one optional question.

HEC asks unique questions in its essays, and it’s important to make sure you answer all parts of the question.

Essay #1

Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words maximum)

This is a traditional goals question with a couple of twists. First, the "why now" part should be explicitly addressed, even if it seems obvious. Second, the "professional objective" is essentially your long-term career vision.

The question implies that this vision or goal will drive your preceding steps, so present your shorter-term goals in that context. Finally, connect the dots. This essay, well done, will convey how your goals grow organically from your experience and are achievable given your previous experience and an MBA from HEC.

Essay #2

What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words maximum)

For many people it didn’t happen at work. Few work accomplishments rise to the level of the most significant life achievement. You can say that at work you saved jobs or lessened negative environmental impacts or were instrumental in developing a new technology.

For many people, this story will be personal. For others, it will involve impact with community, religious, and social organizations. For yet others it could involve a major milestone such as a national sports ranking or photo exhibit or music performance.

Whatever topic you select, simply narrate the story and include the results or impact.

Essay #3

Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words maximum)

Keep the structure simple: tell the story, and end with a brief discussion of how the experience has influenced you. It may seem like a challenge to identify an experience that encompasses both leadership and ethics. However, addressing an ethics challenge will almost inherently require leadership, whether on your part or someone else’s.

Essay #4

Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words maximum)

This essay is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself. Describe an imagined life that reflects something meaningful to you. The question does not ask what you would do if not in your current life or role; it asks you to imagine a life.

Essay #5

Please choose from one of the following essays: (250 words maximum)

  1. What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?
  2. Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.
  3. What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc.).

All these options are equally good - choose the one that resonates most with you. It is another opportunity to showcase your interests and passions. The "why" part is key: avoid platitudes, be specific and present focused, fresh insights.

Essay #6

Is there any additional information you would like to share with us? (900 words max)

This question invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (gap in employment, choice of recommender, a bad grade) as well as to present new material that will enhance your application.