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INSEAD requires two interviews with alumni who live in your country of residence. I had to catch a short flight and managed to do both interviews in the same morning, last week. Here’s my report.
The first interview was with a director of a large petrochemical company. The interview took place at his office and was quite informal. He was around 40, quite busy, but very open and friendly. English is not our first language, so we chatted a bit in Portuguese to break the ice and then we started the interview in English. He asked me to talk about myself and my career and we talked about that for at least 30 minutes. Then the usual questions: why MBA, why INSEAD and what’s next (no ‘why now’ question). He asked me about other schools I had applied to and then we talked a bit on extracurricular activities, which is my weak point. He did not leave time for my questions, and I did not point it out.
On a whole, the interview took a bit more than one hour. He gave me his business card and asked to let him know about the result.
After a 15-min ride by taxi, I met my second interviewer (whom the first one knew). He is a former consultant and banker, and is now in PE, a bit more senior but nonetheless very friendly. The interview was conversational, covering the same standard topics but spotted with many questions challenging my professional path and my choices, my understanding of the industry I work in, my motivations and my language skills (I spoke mainly English and Portuguese, but also a bit Spanish and Italian).
After more or less one hour, he asked if I had questions, on which we spent 5 minutes. Once again, he gave his business card and asked to keep in touch.
In general, my point about INSEAD interviews is about confirming the good things you put in your essays. I also believe it is an acid test to check if you will integrate in the culture of the school and your maturity. As a result, it is very important to be sure and firm on your message, but also cool and friendly in your attitude.
The interview was held on campus, by a second year student and lasted about 45 minutes.
The interviewer created a very friendly atmosphere and started by talking about her background and experiences. She basically listened and made a few remarks about life at Tuck.
1. Tell me about you (I added “why MBA” and “why now” at the end of my answer)
2. Why Tuck?
3. Tell me about your teamwork experience.
4. Tell me about a difficult situation you have been through and how you handled it.
5. What legacy would you like to leave to the community at Tuck?
6. Questions for her
Overall, it was a pleasant day, except I was unable to visit a class since the students were taking their mid-terms. The staff was very friendly and I was able to talk to many students during the Q&A session and later at the cafeteria.
• Length: 1 hour (exactly) with 10 mins for questions, around 4 mins to prep for presentation and 2-3 mins to present
• Alum was very friendly and easy to talk to
• Alum had a list of questions LBS provided and he highlighted the ones he wanted to ask me about (there were probably 4 pages of questions and he asked me about 10-15)
• Tell me about your background
• Can you explain what you do in your daily work?
• What would your co-workers say is your leadership style?
• How do you show leadership at work?
• Mention a project where you have been a leader?
• How do you work with people from different cultures?
• What do your co-workers say is your weakness?
• How have you overcome this weakness?
• Why an MBA? (surprised this question came so late)
• Why LBS?
• Your study group is a team assigned to you, sometimes you won’t get a long with a person and sometimes a person will not do all the work they are meant to do. How would you handle this situation?
• Tell me a time when you faced adversity or failed as a leader
• What have you done to not repeat this error?
Telco is a British retailer that is facing limited growth. The CEO has proposed creating a new tablet, the ‘Hudl’, that will be affordable and target the 75% market in England that does not have tablets. Do you think that this is an innovative idea? Should Telco pursue this venture?
The interview was held off-campus, in a company building owned by an alumnus, in Sao Paulo / Brazil. It was part of a full day of interviews organized by the department of admissions, and lasted about 50 minutes.
My interviewer was an alumnus that graduated more than two years ago. He created a friendly atmosphere and conducted a very conversational interview. He began by providing me with some of his background and experiences. I was asked just a few basic questions, to which he added some comments and personal remarks. The questions asked were as follows:
1. Walk me me through your resume
2. Why MBA? Why now?
3. Why Booth?
5. Questions for him
My interviewer told me that the following questions were from a script he was supposed to follow:
1) How did you find and join your current employer?
2) Give an example of a time when you chose to be a team member and not a team leader. What lessons did you learn from that decision?
3) Explain how you deal with different types of people at work.
4) What is a quality that you admire in someone else that you wish you possessed yourself?
5) What do you plan to do after you earn your MBA and what steps have you taken already to support this decision?
6) What else should the AdCom know about you?
Had interview with Associate Dean of MBA Admissions. Lasted 35 min + 10 min Q&A.
Tell me a time when you persevered despite your better judgement.
What are the 3 most important characteristics of a leader, and how have you demonstrated these qualities?
Alumnus asked me to meet him at a hotel bar. I was on time but he was 45 mins late.
The overall interview was very conversational. He did not take any notes and even declined to have a hard-copy of my resumé. He said he had already taken a look at it, and that would be enough for him.
This is how it went
- He introduced himself
- Resume walkthrough
- He talked about his own experience
- Why an MBA ? He insisted a lot on this question
- I asked about the alumni network in our country
- Discussion around family life in the Bay Area
Interestingly enough, I did not get any explicit behavioral questions. I am wondering how he managed to gather enough facts to write his review… He looked pretty confident that he had all he needed though.
He insisted that the interview was only one datapoint in the whole process, and that he wouldn’t know how my application is viewed as a whole. I guess that his job is mainly to make out whether an applicant has been lying in his written application or is just too antisocial to fit into the Stanford GSB community …
The interview was very casual and straightforward. Since it is very short and the interviewer has quite a lot of required questions to ask, you don’t really get time to do small talk.
The student had only access to my résumé, which he looked at to keep track of what I was saying.
I appreciated the fact that he was very punctual and cheerful.
The questions I got were:
Walk me through your résumé (with some additional questions around specific points)
Why do you want an MBA and why now? He insisted a lot on the “now” aspect.
What is your leadership style ?
What clubs are you interested in at Anderson?
What is a past conflict how did you solve it?
I had the time to ask him two questions
- Did he reach out to the alumni network ? Under which circumstances ? How was it ?
- What he likes most in his experience at Anderson.
Overall it gave me a nice impression of the school (friendliness and punctuality) and I believe that the admission process will be fair (same questions for all applicants).
The interview was held on campus. It was with a second year student and lasted for about 50 minutes. I was surprised by how friendly the interviewer was and this led to a very conversational interview. The interviewer began by providing me with some of his background and experiences. As it turned out, we shared a number of similar interests and the conversation developed from here. I was only asked four standard questions and got the impression the interviewer just wanted to get these out of the way so that we could continue with the conversation. The questions asked were as follows:
1. Talk me through your resume? (He probed a little here, mainly based on an overlap of interests)
2. Why do you want to do an MBA?
3. Why Booth?
4. Questions for him
Overall, it was completely different and much more relaxed that I expected.
Wharton MBA Admissions Interview Questions: Round 1 / Group Interview with Second-Year student / On-Campus
I got there early and waited in the waiting room with the other interviewees for my time slot. There were 18 of us, and one student came out at a time to lead six of us back to the interview room for the team-based discussion.
I’m a military person, and in my group we had an aerospace engineer, a business development person for a construction company, two real estate investors, one consultant, and an accountant. The second-year students gave us 30 seconds to introduce ourselves, and then they read off the team-based discussion question (which we’d already been emailed, but just to make sure the playing field was level), said we should each take a minute to give our opening pitch, and then time started.
We each gave our one minute pitch, and then the discussion flowed naturally from there. A few of us tried to suggest that we find the “common themes” from all of our suggestions, which we did, and then went from there. Each person had about the same amount of speaking time, everyone was very supportive and friendly, almost too much so – you could have said anything, it felt like, and everyone would have said, “Yes, Great idea! I like that! Also, how about XYZ.” No tension, no dissension, just overwhelming positivity and support – which meant that the discussion went wherever the last person took it. So we ended with a pitch idea that we started to give before time ran out, but it was really an idea that was come up with by committee – very vanilla, very bland, very predictable, with none of the originality of anyone’s original answer, but it answered the question and we all contributed, so I guess that’s what you get.
Afterwards, we each had about 10 minutes one on one with a second year student who had been observing our group and that was more traditional interview format – how’d you find the team-based discussion and how would you change it, tell me about yourself, tell me about a time you faced a leadership challenge, what’s your elevator pitch, what clubs would you participate in here at Wharton, do you have any questions for me?
Overall, a friendly experience though very hard to tell how they differentiated between any of the applicants based on our TBD performance – I felt we all performed about equally.
The atmosphere as I checked in was very friendly. When I got to the room in the Student Center where they had us meet, the ladies who welcomed me were smiling and affable and gave me a packet of info about the school, visiting, a map, and a note from Dee Leopold. Since I got there so early, I sat down with a few other interviewees and we discussed our backgrounds. Ten minutes before the interview time, an adcom member led us upstairs to another waiting room. Then one by one, an adcom member came out, called our name, and walked us to our interview room.
The person who walked me to the interview room, interviewer #1, was my main interviewer. Waiting in the room was a second woman, interviewer #2. They were both very friendly and put me at ease. #1 explained to me that she had read my application carefully and would be asking the questions, and #2 was there to observe for the most part. Each had a copy of my resume in front of them, but #1′s was marked up heavily.
#1 then launched into it, asking me questions about my college experience (which surprised me, since I was more than seven years out of college) – had I always known I was going to do ROTC there, why did I choose to go there, what did ROTC teach me, etc.
Then we discussed each of the parts of my military career, with the general focus being on “why” I did various things – why did I choose my branch, why did I get stationed in X, Y, and Z, how did my leadership change over time, what were my challenges at each place. It was a very fast paced interview, I felt like even 30 seconds for answers was a bit long. She had me retell one story from my application essay for the benefit of #2, though I don’t know if #2 had read it before, or if it was a test of an ability of mine. Towards the end, I got some business analysis questions about my current government job – what’s the model of employment like, why is it structured that way, how would I change it?
Then it was done. I got a minute at the end for my last question, “is there anything else you want to make sure we know about?” and then #2 walked me back down to the first waiting room, chit-chatting on the way about running.
Overall, a very pleasant experience. Definitely worth it to know your resume and application essay cold (as if anyone wouldn’t) and have stories ready for each bullet on your resume.