INSEAD Essay Analysis

INSEAD MBA Essay Analysis 2020-2021

Last updated on September 2nd, 2020

Reading Time: 21 minutes

If you thought that the best business schools are only in the US or in India, this could be a surprise. INSEAD was the first B-school to be found outside the US in 1957 and is one of the leading graduate business schools. So, if you are looking to apply to one of the best B-schools outside the US, INSEAD could be a great choice for you.

If you have made up your mind to apply to INSEAD this year, we will help you tackle the written essay questions and give you tips on how to go about their video essay questions as well! Just keep reading.

But before we get into the INSEAD MBA essay analysis part, here are a few points that you need to know about INSEAD.

Getting things straight

The one-year program at INSEAD is one of the top three one-year MBA programs offered in the world today. So, there is no doubt that an MBA candidate at INSEAD is going to benefit from the course. With over 60 years of training young leaders, INSEAD is home to more than 59K alumni spread across countries.

Imparting knowledge the right way

The one-year MBA program offered by INSEAD is actually crunched into 10 months. And this just means one thing: It is a very intense program. And it offers an accelerated learning experience to its students.

INSEAD claims that their curriculum and the environment itself opens new career possibilities to their MBA candidates. The MBA candidates get a lot of exposure as they get to sit in and interact with professors flying down from several countries to teach them.

The B-school has two intakes – September and January. While everything else pertaining to the course remains the same, the students joining the course in January will get two months of summer break during which they can do their internships. Students joining in September will have 10 months of consecutive classes.

What INSEAD is looking for

The MBA program offered by INSEAD is a truly international program. And this point is something that you need to keep in mind before you apply to the B-school. It is always a great thing to take up such a course. But, the B-school will have certain expectations of the students who wish to join them and it is always better if you are aware of the admission criteria beforehand.

Let us tell you what INSEAD looks for in its candidates:

  1. Ability to contribute
  2. Academic capacity
  3. Leadership potential
  4. International motivation

We are sure that every B-school out there looks for candidates who can meet the first three criteria points given above. The reason why INSEAD emphasises on ‘international motivation’ is because their students come from different cultures, backgrounds and geographies.

So, if you are someone who has not had any sort of international exposure, it might be a little difficult. They are just looking for candidates who can adapt and will be flexible in a multi-cultural environment.

What’s in it for you

If you are looking to build a great network and at the same time explore new opportunities, INSEAD would be the place for you.

Most of the US B-Schools have diversity, with 30 to 40% of their class coming in from outside of the US. But theirs are predominantly American programs. And with the current US VISA regulations and issues, a lot of students are looking for good MBA programs outside the US. 

However, if you look at INSEAD, the kind of diversity that the students bring in, the kind of geographies they come from with about 40 to 50 different nationalities every year in the program, you see a program that is truly international.

One more thing that probably works well for INSEAD is the fact that it has dual campuses (France and Singapore). It is possible for you to take advantage of the exchange opportunity; you can do some courses on the other campus. Thus, you can get an experience of both.

INSEAD MBA Essays 2020-21

Unlike other B-schools, INSEAD divides their essays into two categories:

  1. Job Essays
  2. Motivational Essays

You will get to know what exactly they are expecting in each of the essay questions as you go through the article.

INSEAD Job 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 the budget, clients/products and results achieved.

Word limit: 200 words

You have a very limited number of words here. So, you need to choose the words and use them wisely so that you can convey your story. 

If you are working for a well-known company, you can talk about your contribution to the company to answer this question. But if you are working for a company of which the employer brand if very low, probably because they are new, you might want to set the context so that the evaluators know what the company dies and what your contribution is to its growth.

For instance, if you are someone working in the marketing team, you might be responsible for generating a particular number of leads for the organization. So, take a look at the points mentioned by them in the question and then utilize the 200 words to answer it well.

INSEAD Job Essay 2

What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? 

Word limit: 200 words

You need to be very careful while answering this question. You cannot use the 200 words to say that you are a software engineer and that you will be a senior software engineer next. Or that you are a junior analyst and you will become an analyst next.

While you have to give them the title, you should be able to show some sort of progression as you go up the ladder. It could be with respect to the budgets you handle or the number of people you manage. It could be anything that proves that you will be taking up more responsibility as you take up the next position. 

INSEAD Job Essay 3

Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.

Word limit: 300 words

Probably you joined a company right after graduation as they came for campus placements. You might have wanted to learn more about coding or some other skill that you have right now. Through the essay, you need to tell them why you picked your first employer and your rationale behind it. After that, why did you pick the second employer? What was the learning that you had with the first employer? What was the learning that you had with the second employer? You need to gradually take them through the journey of your life.

Again, try to be brief. Don’t try to elaborate too much. Don’t try to dramatize it. In fact, this is not an essay where you should bring quotes and emotions and all that into play. To some extent, keep it dry. That’s what your third job essay is going to be like. One key thing is, “Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.” You’re not just telling them what you did but also “why you did” “what you did.”

INSEAD Job Essay 4

Discuss your short and long-term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

First things first. When it comes to talking about your long-term plan, don’t be too vague or don’t give them broad answers. If your long-term goal is to become an entrepreneur, you should remember that there will be many other applicants with the same.

While you don’t have to get into all the details, you need to give them a sense of what problem you will be looking to solve as an entrepreneur. If you plan to get into managerial roles, give them a clear sense of what you will be doing. You don’t have to be too specific with your long-term goal, but you have to provide them with your unique outlook so that they know that there is value in what you’re telling them.

While telling them about your short-term goal, you need to be really specific. What is it that you will do next to achieve your long-term goal? This will constitute your short-term goals, right?

INSEAD Optional Job Essay

If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the program starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the program.

First, if you’re currently unemployed, it’s okay. You don’t need to sweat it but you need to show them how you are constructively utilizing your time. You cannot say, “I quit my job, and I am preparing for the GMAT and applying to INSEAD.” Instead, you can say, “I am taking these courses and I am making sure that I am investing in myself so that I can develop further professionally”, or you can talk about your personal reasons for which you have taken a sabbatical. Whatever the reason be, write it. Make sure that you’re not telling them you’re sitting at home and binge-watching Netflix and goofing off.

INSEAD Motivational Essay 1

Give a candid description of yourself (who are you 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.

Word limit: 500 words

When you read the question, you might feel that there is too much going over there. But they are simply trying to understand who you are as a person. To answer this question, you need to tell them your background. If you grew up in a joint family, you need to tell them that because there will be certain aspects of it that influenced you as a person, like sharing and caring for everyone. Whereas, if you belong to a family with an army background, you must have moved from one place to another every year, making new friends. So, tell them all this and give them a sense of who you are. 

But you don’t have to be something that you are not just to convince them. You need to tell them the truth and when they meet you for the interview, they should be able to identify you. You shouldn’t be someone as described by you on paper and someone else in real life.

But when you answer this essay, you also need to mention your personal characteristics that you think are your strengths and weaknesses. You could be someone who is trying to juggle a lot of things in a day. And so, you might wake up early at a particular time and get going. You also do not want to compromise on your health, family time or your work. So, you ensure that you make time for everything. But at the same time, you could say that you feel the need to be more flexible. And if you are someone who gets agitated fi everything doesn’t go according to your plan, you can mention that as well.

Before you even start to write this essay, you need to analyze and introspect. You need to be self-aware so that you know exactly what you need to write. You could even talk to people who know you well to know what describes you the best and then draft the story.

You are looking at a four-paragraph essay here – your background, at least two examples and then you need a summary. You need to be a little fluid while drafting the essay. But to give you a framework, we would suggest that you utilize 100 words for the first and the last paragraph and keep aside 300 words for the examples.

INSEAD Motivational 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.

Word limit: 500 words

Clearly you need two stories here: One story in which you are proud of an achievement and another one in which you failed. In the second scenario, do not try to cover up your failure. It cannot be a situation in which you failed and then you resolved the issues and came back. It should be a failure. If you owned a start-up and it failed, you should just say that it did not work out, it folded and that it was a failure.

You will have four paragraphs in this essay: introduction, achievement, failure and the ending. And to write down your achievement and failure you can follow the START format:

S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Result

T – Takeaways

Your achievement and failure will be very personal. You wouldn’t consider it an achievement if the company just wins an award. There has to be something personal about it for you to feel that it as an achievement. You need to find out the personal element by following the aforementioned format. With the takeaways, you will be answering the ‘Why’ of the question.

And as given in the question, “How did these experiences impact your relationship with others?” This will be your conclusion. You might not have control over your success or failure. Irrespective of that fact, you should be able to tell them what you learnt from each of these experiences. What is it that changed about you? How did it help your personal development?

You can utilize approximately 100 words each for the introduction and conclusion. And you can use the 300 words to draft the body of the essay. Words are very limited in this and you will definitely not have enough room to elaborate each point. 

INSEAD Motivational Essay 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? 

Word limit: 300 words

One of the things that INSEAD or any other B-School looks for is leadership qualities. So now, what do you mean by leadership? Leadership Is when a person says, “My life is not just going to work, coming back home, watching TV, and going to sleep. I am passionate about certain things”, and a leader will typically have one more thing he is going to pursue on the side. 

You need to pick what it is and quantify it but more than the ‘What’, again we will tell you, it’s about the “Why”. Why is that cause so dear to you? Why did you not pick something else? Why did you pick that sport? Why do you jam with your band every weekend? What about music inspires you? What can other people learn from you? 

300 words is plenty of space to elaborate on that part. Pick three of the activities and not more and then elaborate on each of the points a bit so that they know how driven you are. Tell them how involved you are. Don’t write ten different things.

INSEAD Optional Motivational Essay

Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? 

Word limit: 300 words

Just like the question says, write something that you have missed in your application. It could be something like an academic break. Make sure that it is not something that is trivial.

INSEAD Video Essays

You could be recording four questions and these questions will vary from one applicant to another.

Once you complete your online application, you will receive an email with a link that you can use to complete your video essays. You get 45 seconds to think and prepare before you start answering each essay question and then 60 seconds to record your answer.

You can write down your thoughts on a piece of paper, gather your thoughts and then answer the questions. There will be a timer on the screen which will prompt you.

Make sure that you don’t have any technical issues. Even if there are any, they will mostly give a second chance if they are genuine issues.

INSEAD Application Deadlines

If you really want to get into INSEAD, you might want to keep these deadlines in mind. Moreover, with these deadlines, you can now plan your MBA application process better.

INSEAD MBA Application Deadlines

Round 1 September 10, 2020 

Round 2 November 06, 2020

Round 3 January 08, 2021

Round 4 February 26, 2021

So, here we leave you with the most important points and dates that will help you get into INSEAD.

And, if you feel that you need more help in drafting your essays or reviewing your application or let’s say, even brainstorming your ideas, you can always reach out to us.

You can click on the image below and get in touch with our expert.