A unique MBA program, IMD Business School intakes roughly 90 students per cohort to create tailored, close-knit learning experiences. It is also known for supporting career transformations, with a whopping 97% of students being recorded as changing functions, industries or geographies post-MBA.

With small class sizes and a strong global outcome, applying for this 1-year MBA is of course highly competitive. To maximize your chances, make sure to learn as much as possible about this boutique program’s resources, connect with its teaching and alumni community, and keep track of its deadlines so that you can be amongst its first batch of applicants.


Essay 1 – Describe a situation in which you failed as a leader. What did you learn from it? (Word limit 300)

Many leaders have achieved the positions they hold thanks to an ability to bounce back productively from failure. IMD seeks applicants who put this evolutionary managerial mindset to action.

The range of failures you can write about is wide. Failure can include everything from not resolving a conflict as a team leader, to facing issues while restructuring a work unit. Selecting a success cloaked as a failure is also usually not helpful, as it avoids the real question being posed. IMD would learn less about you from the time you might have over-chastised a poorly-performing employee than from a relevant example where you can clearly identify what the situation taught you. Beyond simply explaining what mistakes occurred and how you attempted to avoid them, it’s more productive to illustrate how you took what you learned from the failure in order to succeed during a later event.

Essay 2 (Optional) – Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? (i.e. re-application, health, grades, etc.) (Word limit 50)

In this optional question, you should only explain negative extenuating circumstance concerning parts of your profile, or share your reasons for reapplication.

With only 50 words, your response should be direct and illustrate how the specific issue has been resolved permanently. If you’re reapplying, this question is a chance to illustrate how your professional profile has evolved, how you’ve compensated for any weaknesses in your application, or how your goals have shifted in the time you’ve had between applications.

It’s important to resist using this optional space for any other topics. While there might be a great deal more you wish you could share about your goals or your background, such answers will only be poorly received given their irrelevance to the question at hand.

Essay 3 – How do you intend to finance your MBA at IMD? How much of your total budget estimate will you be able to provide without loans or scholarships? (Word limit 50)

In this answer, it will help to answer honestly and directly. IMD simply wants to know how you expect to afford its MBA program and, despite its appearance, your reply will have zero impact on whether or not IMD’s decide to extend you an offer.

Essay 4 – What other programs are you considering? Of the programs you are considering, what can IMD bring to you as a differentiator? (Word limit 100)

This topic naturally places applications in an uncomfortable situation, where it’s unclear how honest once should be about applying to competitor programs. Generally, its best to focus on the second part of the question by showing how, if you’re considering other programs, you have concluded that IMD holds a significant competitive advantage in its ability to support your plans. In order to be believable, be sure to do your due diligence by comparatively weighing IMD’s offerings against those of other programs. And with only 100 words, be concise and specific in your reasons for selecting IMD.


Question 1 – What specific companies do you want to target? What kind of responsibilities you are looking for? Do you already have a network in place? (Word limit 50)

While this question, or rather series of questions, can feel overwhelming at first, it is important to note that the response requested is only 50 words in length. While that doesn’t make the task of responding necessarily simpler, it helps by limiting the amount of information that you are expected to respond with.

Start by listing bullet-point answers to each of the questions posed: Are there companies you have dreamed of working for in the future? What skills do you need to develop before applying to do so, and are there forms of responsibilities that could help you develop those skills? Are there contacts amongst the networks you are a part of – through work, school and your personal life – who could help you with steps along that process, from skill development to eventual employment?

If you invest time brainstorming each of these lists thoroughly, you will quickly realize how concise and direct your 50 words response needs to be in order to convey a complete response. Be sure to organise your thoughts in an easy to follow order, and clearly address each part of the question through your response.

Question 2 – What skills and experience do you think you already possess that will help you with your post MBA career plans and will make you stand out in front of potential employers? (Word limit 100)

Here, IMD is gaging how studied and feasible your post-MBA objectives are. Its MBA program is known the immense impact it had on its students’ careers – from function, to industry, to location. You shouldn’t worry about sowing an interest in transforming your career. What is more important is to show how you thoroughly understand the skills that your dream role needs, and how your previous experiences can make you an attractive candidate. If you’re hesitating on how to answer this question, try to identify someone in your target position within your network who could give you insider advice on the position and what one looks for when hiring for that role.

Question 3 – What is your plan B if you are not able to secure your ideal job post MBA? (Word limit 50)

This question allows applicants to highlight their adaptability and pre-emptive research for how to best react in the case that they fail to attain their original ideal jobs. While your back-up job may not be as personally interesting, it’s important to show how it would nevertheless provide a chance for growth and be an improvement from your current employment situation. IMD doesn’t want applicants who will place all their eggs into one basket, so treat this question seriously by thoroughly researching the best plan B given your skills and past experience.

If you’re searching for the best ways in which to differentiate your IMD application from others, be sure to contact us. Additionally, logistical information about submitting IMD’s MBA application can be found on the school’s official website.

Published On: November 1st, 2021 / Categories: Essay, IMD, MBA / Tags: , , , /