INSEADBelow are MBA admissions interview questions and experiences submitted by INSEAD applicants. If you interviewed at INSEAD, we encourage you to submit a report detailing your experience!
INSEAD conducts two interviews and mostly these are by alumni. My interviewers had not got my essays; all they had is the interview form I was asked by the adcom to send to them.
First Interview – Junior Alumnus, early 30s. Duration 45 mins
The interview was very relaxed, in a café. It started by the interviewer telling me that she was mainly interested to know what I had done so far, what my career goals are and why INSEAD. I started with my life story and how I had come to become the person I am today. We found a few things in common and talked a bit about those. Then, I went on to describe my motivations and reasons for going to INSEAD. It ended with the interviewer giving me info about INSEAD and how to choose courses etc. To list the questions I was asked.
• Tell me about yourself
• Why MBA? Why INSEAD?
• More questions about my strategy for my business venture
• Did you apply to any other schools? How would you prioritize your decision if admitted to two or more?
• I was specifically asked about the application essay 5 – Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain?
Second interview – Senior Alumnus, mid 50s. Duration 45 mins
My second interview was also at a café. This was a bit more serious than the first one, but not harsh in any way.
• Why MBA? Why INSEAD?
• I was asked some challenging questions about my long term goals and how an MBA would help me achieve my goals as opposed some other courses.
• What is your current role and some technical clarifications related to my job as my job is not something people can easily understand from the job description
• Did you apply to any other schools? How would you prioritize your decision if admitted to two or more?
• Tell me about your international experience. How do you manage cultural differences?
• What are your strengths and weaknesses and what are you looking to get from the MBA. Follow on questions regarding my weaknesses.
A very detail-oriented interview was held. Here are questions:
- Why MBA
- Why Insead
- How is your English? How did you learn English? Will you be completely comfortable in an English environment ?
- What is your greatest strength ?
- How will you use your experience to contribute to class ?
- What are your long term goals ?
- Why do you want to go back to Japan after your MBA ? Are you looking for international work experience ?
- Have you create a business plan before ?
- How do you plan to fund your venture ?
- What are some of the other schools you are applying to ?
Then he exchanged business cards.
I was interviewed by CEO of an MNC.
Interviews were conducted at their respective offices and both interviews lasted 1.5 hours each. Interviewers have to fill a certain feedback form and most of the questions are asked from that form. These were:
- Why MBA,
- Why INSEAD,
- What are your short term and long term goals (geographical location/ industry and skills),
- What international experiences have you had,
- How you can add value to classes at INSEAD,
- Explain your career progression.
Interviewer had 15 years of experience in his field and he told me that he had studied in INSEAD after reaching the position of VP at his previous employer, which just impressed me a lot and I felt a bit nervous too. But, he was very friendly.
He asked general interview questions like why mba, why now, why insead. Why do you want to change fields ? And what was your thinking in choosing the new field- walk me through your decision making process ?
The interview was for half an hour.
Interviewer was another alum and he had started his own startup in Singapore. He was also friendly, but almost straight away jumped into questions. The questions were more detailed and he seemed to be looking for more specific information. What qualities make you good at your current job ? Tell me an instance where you used your qualities to gain appreciation ? How are you going to use these qualities in your future endevors ? What is your gameplan for the start-up you are hoping to create ? How are you going to arrange for the finances ? How would you want to run a company if you had the opportunity as a leader to do so ?
Good Experience overall. Friendly atmosphere was created by both alumni.
I received interview invite a week before the deadline. I was originally given two different names but they were changed and two new names were provided by the end of the next week. I was to contact them and setup the interview within a month. As we all do, I tried to find information about interviewers. First interviewer was in private equity and second in a top three consultancy firm. As already mentioned elsewhere, both of the interviewers were in some way related to my profile – means they would in a good position to judge my profile.
I got my interview setup two weeks later on a Friday. Both of the interviewers were in NYC and since it is few hours drive from my place, they were super polite to accommodate my request for the interview on the same day. I did not know what to do in preparation for the interview. I read a number of blogs, talk to friends who have been to INSEAD and read books about interviews. All of them advised to be MYSELF during the interview and that the interview is nothing but a conversation. I started by reading my essays and profile closely, making up questions that might be asked. I will practice in front of the mirror speaking out loud on how I would answer my questions. This practice probably was helpful to not look for answers when interviews finally happened as everything was in the back of my mind. From experience, I know it looks very unnatural to try to remember details of own profile when in conversation. As the interview date drew closer, I realized that this practice also has a downside. A conversation is not like a speech but I was practicing speech for the lack of a real person asking questions. If I overdo it, our conversation will turn into a one sided talk show. Realizing this, I stopped the practice a week before the interview. Instead I would try to find opportunities at work to have conversation with people around me. It helped me to come back to normal – listen closely, think, respond and ask questions.
First interview was half hour. It was little scary to meet someone so high up. I waited for 5 min. He came to meet and greet me and take me to his office. He had my profile and other information with him. While he was searching his emails and computer, I gave him my CV and a copy of the profile. He was pleased to see that I came prepared. He started by explaining the process of interview. How it would be recorded. Then he went over his own career. I asked a few questions about that as it was quite interesting. He then delved into my profile – questioning every move I made in my career and how INSEAD fits into the picture. I could see very clearly he is making a 3D image of my career and trying hard to understand motivations for going to INSEAD. I was amazed how well he dissected and extracted the essence of my move to MBA. I could understand how futile it would have been to be even a tad bit made-up or dishonest with this guy. He would have found out. Everything went like a conversation after initial hiccups and a few silences in between. At the end of the interview, he told me that he could see why I want to go to INSEAD and would provide me a positive feedback. He asked me to keep in touch.
I was ecstatic.
At the last moment, the interviewer had to change the meeting place. I had just enough time to take a taxi and show up. I reached his place about 15 mins early and waited in the lobby for him. He came, shook hands, apologized for changing venue and thanked for driving few hours to meet him. He was super relaxed and friendly person. When we sat for the interview, he asked me to take off my coat and relax. As CV has worked for last interview, I was quick to take it out and hand it to the interviewer. He did not seem so interested in following a set pattern but took the CV and scanned for something interesting. I have done a number of interesting thing in life – very unconventional and unheard of. We talked about them for a little while with conversation moving back and forth encompassing our experiences. It felt more like a afternoon conversation of friends who shared same interests but met after so long. He gave me tips about INSEAD and how I should proceed in my career. At the end of the conversation, he asked me stay in contact. I was a little worried since he did not tell me how his feedback would be. I wondered if I got too friendly and said something that he did not find so agreeable. Or the fact that interview stretched for 1.5 hrs was not taken kindly.
A few days later, I got email from him asking for my essays. I sent them to both of the interviewers. When I got admit, second interviewer sent me a letter congratulating.
Hi. I’m giving back to this forum that helped me a lot. Here are my 2 cents. I received my 2 interviewers’ details a day before the deadline. I contacted them right away. I had to travel to Vancouver (British Columbia) for one and Calgary (Alberta) for the other. One interviewer dropped out in the middle, and the adcom assigned me a new one. One was a director at a Real Estate company and the other one was a CEO of an Energy company. You can read the other interviews to get an idea of how it happens. However, I will emphasize about one important thing, YOURSELF:
1. Be yourself: Many people try to impress the interviewer with lots of big words and lines they read on the New York Times etc … The interviewers can read through that because they meet lots of people and they are pretty good at knowing who is lying. I am an IT professional, and when one of them asked me about how to make a team more efficient, I told him about the experience I had with my teams: What I did, how they responded, how I handled the team etc… I’m not sure whether I managed the team well, but at the end of my explanation I told him that’s why I needed an MBA to help me with my team management skills. Make it personal and link answers as much as you can back to your desire to pursue an MBA.
2. Tell your story: This is a step further from being yourself. Tell him/her what made YOU who you are. In my case: I was born in a poor/third world country, I have seen war and poverty, I have used an AK47 (no joke… I didn’t kill anybody though, so relax), I didn’t go to school for 2 years because I had to work and save some money for my undergrad abroad (no loans were available), I had to learn English before doing my undergrad, and I worked as a student to pay the bill. After undergrad, I worked for an IT consulting firm then moved to Canada and worked for one of the biggest insurance company as a System Analyst (IT Professional).
3. Stick to your story: As you can deduce from my story I worked twice as hard to get where I am, trust me it wasn’t easy. My future goal is to help with development in poor countries, give other people the opportunity to go to school without so much hustle because many of them just quit, it’s too hard. I said in the essays that I want to work in management consulting (MC) because I’ll gain lots of experience. My interviewer asked why MC instead of an IT company? I want to focus on bring information to people in poor country and he thought MC wasn’t smart move. I told him that if I need to run my own company someday I’ll need management skills, and MC firms offer great leadership/management trainings opportunities and they have IT consulting divisions too where I can work. He agreed with me. Don’t change your ideas just because you got shot down, explain further.
4. Do your research: the three points above bring us to the last point, doing your research. Know as much as you can about yourself (Past, Present, Future and why the MBA will help you get where you want to go), about the school (Why that particular school: I told my interviewers I can get an MBA online, but I wanted INSEAD because of the multicultural experience and its alumni network), and about the post-school industry. Do your research, read and learn as much as you can.
So this is me and this is what i told adcom. What are you?
Who: Mid 30s entrepeneur working at startup.
Interview: Met at a restaurant for lunch in London, interviewer was extremely warm and friendly. Brought a copy of my resume and asked me to walk him through it with occasional follow-up questions. Then asked the usual: Why MBA? Why now? Why INSEAD? Then went into detail on some activities and his experience at INSEAD. Only tricky part was interviewer identified the biggest weakness on my app was lack of experience and drilled down into it. Very relaxed and informal.
Who: Mid 50s investment banker running his own hedge fund
Interview: Met at hotel in London for a drink. Quick overview of my background and then the usual about why INSEAD, why MBA, why now. Was really pressed about why not an American school as they have a lot of the attributes I described but interview seemed convinced by responses. After the typical b-school interview questions there was 30-40 minutes on other shared interests and then interviewer told me he would strongly recommend me and wished me the best.
As most posts have stated, walk me through your resume, why INSEAD, why MBA, and why now have to be down cold, seems like every other question is based off of your responses.
Who: management consultant, very relaxed, but formal. Duration: 1h 10min
The interview went along in the form of a conversation. The interviewer had read my application before this discussion and came well prepared. He asked me about my experience (basically, I walked him through my professional background and also talked a little bit about university; for some of my experience I had to give a lot of details), why MBA now and particularly why INSEAD. Moreover, he asked me why do I think INSEAD should take me in (he was interested in what was not in my CV; every applicant has a strong CV; I told him about my personal interests, my passions, how I am, how I related to people, my role in teams, my previous international exposure – in student campuses).
At the end of the interview, I asked him a few questions about his experience at INSEAD.
Who: CEO of a large FMCG company. Duration: 2h 30min
The interviewer asked me to bring along a CV. We met in a local restaurant. The interview was a relaxed discussion. I handed him my CV at the beginning of the conversation and we started discussing about my professional background and my education (he liked the fact that my CV was only 1 page long). We went into very specific, but public details about the company I work for (turnover, number of employees) and what I do here. He asked me why I want to pursue and MBA now and specifically why INSEAD. Afterwards, we discussed about my hobbies and how I plan my time. He walked me though my entire CV, without making me feel uncomfortable.
Afterwards, I asked him about his experience at INSEAD and how this helped him develop professionally.
My two INSEAD interviews were very different. The first one was with a younger alumnus who used to be an MD and worked in Pharma industry before joining McKinsey. The second one was a very senior alumnus who used to be the president of a huge international cosmetics company’s Taiwan Branch.
The first one was very casual and because he knew that I will use English with the second one (the second one is not a Taiwanese), he used Chinese during the interview. He seemed pretty casual and did not ask many questions. In fact, I don’t feel that he asked any question but just brought out question-like conversations as follows:
- What do you want to do after graduation?
- Why you choose INSEAD?
- The life style of management consultant is very exhaustive, are you sure you can maintain your sports habit?
He spent most of the time describing why he chose INSEAD other than Harvard (he got both offers) and how he received countless interview opportunities during INSEAD. However, because of his background, I found them hard to apply to my case (I am a Deloitte auditor). Also he seemed not very interested in knowing me, which, though spared me from being asked tough questions, made me a little bit sad. His point was that, with an extremely niche skill (ex: his MD) one can work at McKinsey and leads a balanced life (thus, vice versa).
In the end, he did give me guidances regarding how to better present myself for the second interview (such as being more concise and structured in answering questions) and he also warned me not to take out the prepared list of questions for interviewers because that would make me look unprofessional (a really good suggestion).
My second interview was the next day to my first interview. We met in a Starbucks near his house because he will fly to Singapore after the interview. I was more nervous about this one since he is a very high profile business person. I arrived an hour before the scheduled time and started to walk around the neighborhood to go through my prepared answers. That’s in a wealthy area of Taipei. Good for rehearsing on the street.
He came right on time and offered to buy me a coffee. We have greetings for about 5 mins and the interview started. Questions were:
- Why MBA? Why INSEAD?
- Which other schools have you applied and why?
- What’s your career goal?
- What is the highlight of your career? (he then kept on asking very detailed questions about the nature of the project I mentioned, the role I played, the various parties involved, the nationality of the client…)
- You are an auditor, which kind of industry did you involve in most? Why did you move around different industries?
- Your leadership experience are all professional, why not extra-curricular ones?
- Tell me about your most challenging international experience. Why was it challenging?
- Do you have club experience in university? High school? (I did not expect that I would be asked about high school!)
After these questions, I got the opportunity to ask him questions. I then asked three:
- What role does INSEAD play in your life? (he met his wife and his in-law family in Fonty!)
- For my future career aspiration to conduct corporate restructuring and M&A projects, which courses or skills should I acquire now? (keep on with my IPO projects at hand, try to think like a shareholder, PE club, and corporate finance classes..)
- How did you conquer cultural barrier and advance to the top position in a French MNC? (language and understanding what others are thinking about)
During the interview, he was very forthright and told me that my profile is not as international as most INSEAD students (my longest overseas experience was only 3 months in Australia) and my extra-curricular leadership experience was much less than impressive. However, he seemed delighted to know that during my backpacking in Australia, I had sent out tens of resumes only to land a restaurant assistant job. He said it was a real international experience. (surprisingly).
My overall impression about him is that despite his high profile, he was very patient and had a profound knowledge in the capital market. He definitely made me feel very good about the possibility of getting into this school!
A final feedback from my two interviews:
First, do prepare for those standard MBA interview questions but don’t get over prepared about other less-frequent ones. Second, be sure to have several mock interviews before the real ones (and let the interviewer ask a wide range of questions). Third, have a sound sleep the night before because you will need a clear and fast-running brain during the interview.
Best of luck to me and everyone!
(Update) Result: Admitted!
My take from the interviews …member of the class of Dec 2012…submitted app in June 2012,got invite in july 2012 and was interviewed in august 2012
Who: Upcoming India Tech company – head of sector of the company, based in the City of London very relaxed, but formal, told me he we were there for a converstaion, not interview, to find out more about me…
almost no pressure, very patient, waited me to finish my answer…typical questions…and had a chat for his company…aside from typical questions, here is what took me by suprice
- what is rewarding about your current role…why are you still doing your current job…
- tell me your opinion about this current event
- how can we make sure this doesnt happen again
Who: Startup CEO (tech) – rising star quoted in the papers! based in belgravia…
this guy was completely different from the first one…more pressure and no structure…had only 5 mins to review my app (eve though he asked me to send the full application)… aside from why mba, why insead, future goals, and how to achieve goals…
- why you chose your current role, why chose to live overseas?
- what do you do for your company
- how can you become CEO at your company (i work for an org of 350,000 people…it is almost impossible to become CEO…)
- why emerging markets
- tell me more for your EM interest? which country interests you more? why?
- pros and cons of EM country you selected? challenges in the future? opportunities in EM country?
- tell me more about your experience of insead
- impact of insead on your career
- challenging aspects of your MBA year
- things you liked/didnt like at INSEAD
takeaways – PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE…it can only help…stay cool, stick to your story…know your story off by hard and dont prepare for a structure of an interview…ie dont expect questions will come in a logical manner… prepare your questions and then mix and match your Qs/As so you are prepared for a CONVERSATION and not an interview…
Just wanted to share my experience with INSEAD interviews.
My first interview was with someone pretty experienced in fields completely different than my own. The interview was very conversational and friendly. Questions were typical: walk through resume, why MBA now, what are my goals. Also talked about working across cultures and where I see myself in 15-20 years on a personal standpoint (not professional) – the talk was great, he shared a lot of his experience with INSEAD. Interview lasted just 40min.
My second interview was very different, also with very experienced professional however this time in a field relatively similar to mine. He went into intricate detailed questions about my current job and role as well as my views on company’s strategy/potential + views on market as a whole. After that went back and talked about past professional experiences in detail too, why I wanted MBA now, had I considered other schools, what extra-curricular am I involved with, why I studied what I did in undergrad. Interview lasted 1h20min
Reading through reports on this wiki, I expected that both interviews would be quite different somehow and that is definitely what happened with me too.
Good luck to all