September 2019 Intake

Round 1: 19 September 2018

Round 2: 14 November 2018

Round 3: 09 January 2019

Round 4: 06 March 2019

January 2020 Intake

Round 1: 20 February 2019

Round 2: 17 April 2019

Round 3: 05 June 2019

Round 4: 24 July 2019


A powerhouse program, INSEAD is one of the most popular first choices among our clients. In terms of application, INSEAD’s essays have not changed since last year. They are composed of two major types: job essays and story essays.

The first series of essays asks you to discuss your professional history, your current role, and your future positions. It is important, as you answer these questions, to be as concise as possible. INSEAD is not judging your storytelling ability within them but rather trying to further understand the breadth of your responsibilities and the value of your choices.

Job Essay 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 budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)

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

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. (short answer)

Job Essay 4: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

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

In terms of the optional job essay, keep in mind that INSEAD is not seeking to punish candidates who will take a break before the start of their studies, but rather that they would like candidates to have a clear rationale and goals relative to the choices they make.

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. (approximately 500 words)

INSEAD is looking for individuals who are well-rounded and introspective. To answer this question, you will need to understand what your key differentiators are, what defaults you have, and how they both connect to form your character.

A good answer, however, doesn’t just include a list of your best and worst qualities, but rather carefully weighs them against the other parts of your application to make sure that you’re hitting all of the important notes for INSEAD, while also including clear examples that illustrate these qualities. INSEAD loves storytelling, and has asked candidates at times to “make [them] life or cry.”

Another important tip is that you have to be very careful about choosing weaknesses. While it’s necessary to avoid sounding generic or picking weaknesses that are in fact strengths (the amount of people who include ‘detail-oriented’ as a weakness is staggering!), you can’t choose weaknesses that make you seem like a bad future candidate or that you have not worked on to improve.

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. (approx. 400 words)

Achievements and failures are opportunities to illustrate value and growth. As you write this essay, you will need to frame such instances in the context of your effect on others. In other words, this essay is not just about your leadership and development, but how your decisions have impacted those around you.

A final requirement of this essay is to highlight what you learned from those two experiences. In each case, INSEAD wants you to be introspective and examine every aspect of the outcome to discover what left the most long-lasting and beneficial mark. If we’re unable to learn from our successes, we can’t repeat or improve on them; and if we’re unable to learn from our mistakes, we can only end up repeating them.

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? (approx. 300 words)

Despite INSEAD’s use of the word ‘all’, often you cannot and you should not discuss every activity you’ve participated in within 300 words. However, the second part of the question really hints at how you should choose your extracurriculars. They want you to speak about activities that take a profound place in your life, as well as those that have developed qualities that INSEAD finds attractive, such as leadership and teamwork. Moreover, don’t miss the chance to connect your activities with those at INSEAD, if possible! There may be clubs or events that clearly reflect your interests and allow you to give back to the school’s community.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approx. 300 words)

INSEAD’s optional essay can be used in two ways: to highlight a strongly positive attribute of your candidacy that you haven’t had the opportunity to notes in previous essays or to explain away an issue in your profile.

Because INSEAD has already asked you for a plethora of stories concerning all aspects of your life, don’t feel pressured to include an additional story within this optional essay. Be sure to evaluate carefully if the additional story gives your application a competitive advantage in the context of all its parts.


Since 2016, INSEAD has been using the video interview to gain a more visual and extemporaneous representation of its potential students. Though it’s made up of just 4 short questions, the interview is a compact format in which to judge your communication skills and your ability to think under pressure. Since you will be unable to rerecord any of your answers, barring technical difficulties, take the time to practice, practice, practice.

The following are INSEAD’s notes on the video interview process:

Shortly after completing your INSEAD MBA online application, you will receive an e-mail notification from Kira Talent with a unique link to complete 4 video interviews. Your link will be also available on your dashboard within the application system.

The video should be seen as a unique opportunity for you to share your passions, your motivations and who you truly are. The Admissions Committee is interested in obtaining an authentic view of you as a person, to see how you think on your feet and how you convey your ideas.

The video interviews do not replace the face-to-face interviews with Alumni.

Your application will be considered as complete and ready to be reviewed only once we have received your answers to the video interviews. Please complete your video interviews at your earliest convenience and no later than 48 hours after the deadline to which you are applying. We strongly recommend however that you complete this step before the final date to allow yourself some time to prepare for this exercise.

Published On: September 20th, 2018 / Categories: Essay, INSEAD, MBA / Tags: , , , , /