INSEAD MBA Essay Questions and Tips

The essay questions include job description and motivation essays. The job description questions and motivation essays allow you to discuss a variety of topics related to your interests and experiences.

Job Description Essays

1. Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of the budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)

This question requests a snapshot of the applicant’s current or most recent job. Keeping in mind that this will be the admission committee's introduction to your candidacy, you should also provide information to help the reader understand your place within the organization and the work that occupies your days.

Stay focused on the details of your present job, nature of work, major responsibilities, supervision, size of the budget, number of clients/products, and most importantly, results achieved.

2. What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)

For this question, you need to show that your next position should be more challenging than your current one. However, if an MBA is your next step, you probably don’t need the next promotion. Through this question, the admission committee wants to determine whether you have a clear vision of your career.

3. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)

The purpose of this question is to get an understanding of how you have progressed along your career path. You can focus on each full-time position, the reasons behind each move, increases, and changes in responsibility, and the lessons or skills learned. It is important to show progress at each stage of your career. Make sure to explain the reason how and why you made your career choice.

4. Discuss your short-term and long-term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

This is a straightforward career goals question asking you to explain your short-term and long-term goals. Explain where you stand now why you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path. What are the skills that you still lack which you hope to acquire by an MBA? How an MBA will fill the gaps in your career?

Then, explain your short-term (3 to 5 years after MBA) and long-term (5 to 10 years) goals.

5. If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than two months before the program starts, please explain your activities and occupation between leaving your job and the start of the program. (optional)

This question provides unemployed applicants an opportunity to explain their case and discuss the new skills they are learning, the volunteer work they are involved in, and any conferences and professional development workshops they are attending, and other efforts they are making to secure short-term employment before MBA. This would validate their growth even during the time they are unemployed.

Motivation Essays

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 which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (approximately 500 words)

Through this open-ended question, the Admissions Committee wants to gain insights into your personality and values. Therefore, you need to do a lot of self-reflection into your life experiences that have shaped your personality and have made you who you are.

2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud of and explain why? In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationship with others? Comment on what you learned. (approximately 400 words)

You have to discuss both your accomplishments and failure in one single essay. You need to explain how these experiences have impacted your relationship with others. Since you can use only 400 words, it is in your best interest to allow approximately 200 words to each of your stories.

Your experiences of achievement and failure should illustrate your strengths and weaknesses. The accomplishment story should have four components - challenge, achievement, outcome/result, and significance. To explain your failure story, you need to reflect on life experience when you could not live up to your expectations. You should describe how the situation went wrong and why.

3. 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? (approx. 300 words) 

The extra-curricular is an important element as admission committee want to know if you are an applicant who will not only contribute to the classroom but also to the life of the community outside the classroom as a student, and later, as a member of the alumni network.

Candidates who have other interests and hobbies that they are passionate about, and who perhaps have some achievement in sports, music, or arts will go on to become students who will take the lead in student clubs and will be actively involved in the alumni network.

When describing your extracurricular activities, focus on social or community-based activities instead of solo involvements.

4. Is there anything that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approximately 300 words) 

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give the Admissions Committee relevant information that you could not give in other essays or other parts of your application.