The IMD EMBA essay questions will generate a comprehensive view of you as a businessperson and a professional – in very succinct form. Although the essays are not long, be prepared to put good thought into deciding what to write. Also spend time deciding what to emphasize about a given experience or point, because you will not be able to include all aspects given the brevity. Keep in mind the program’s targeting of seasoned managers on the brink of senior management.
Rather than in a traditional set of essay questions, the IMD application asks you a couple of critical questions within the application.
5. Description of career history
Please provide a brief description of your career history and accomplishments to date, including current duties and reporting responsibilities. The response must be limited to 11 lines.
This line limit gives you about 130-150 words – not much. You can either weave in your accomplishments ( selectively discussing the key ones) into your career history, or you can do a short paragraph with your career history followed by a short paragraph about your key accomplishments. Regarding the accomplishments, include at least one recent one. In this short essay, be specific and quantify where possible/relevant.
9. Briefly state your career objectives. The response must be limited to 10 lines.
This prompt gives you just a few sentences. Be specific: roles/positions, industry, possibly geography. Give an example of companies that interest you. State not just what you want to do, but also what you’d like to accomplish, what impact you’d like to have in the long term (your “vision”).
Questions 10-13 should be answered on separate sheets of paper. Please re-type the questions with your answers and include your name on each page. Please take this opportunity to present yourself to the Admissions Committee in a concise, informative and open manner. Each essay should be a maximum of 15 lines.
NOTE: This line limit gives you about 200 words per essay.
10. Please describe three situations, business or otherwise, in which you were involved and which were of importance to you. Explain why you view them as such.
Selecting three interesting, different, and in some way pivotal situations is the key to using this essay to maximum effect. It gives the adcom YOUR lens onto your life and career –and it gives you a chance to present a multifaceted self-portrait. Ideally at least one of the three situations will be non-work related. A general rule of thumb in terms of time frame is, the longer ago something happened, the “bigger” its meaning and impact should be to make it a viable essay topic. For example, you should generally steer clear of discussing something as far back as high school – unless, for example, you escaped with your family from a region at war. Most likely you’ll discuss things within the last five years. For the work-related items, try to have one fairly recent, and also discuss experiences that are different. I suggest three paragraphs, each devoted to one situation. In each, describe the situation, and then discuss why it was important to you – and if it was so for multiple reasons, focus on one or two. Be thoughtful and insightful, don’t just state the obvious.
11. Please comment on a situation where you failed to reach an objective and what you learned from it.
Here you have a chance to go more in depth on a particular experience. Ideally use an experience from work, not too far in the past. First narrate the situation, giving specifics such as where, who, when, etc. Don’t shrink from the part where you failed to reach the objective – this is the pivot point of the story. Explain what happened and be frank about where you fell short. Describe your learning from it – and then add a quick sentence noting how you have since applied that learning.
12. In what ways do you believe you can contribute to the IMD Executive MBA program?
Identify 2-3 key ways you stand out among IMD Executive MBA applicants and elaborate on how they will enable you to contribute. There is no formula here; it will differ for each applicant. Some examples of factors to consider are a unique industry perspective or niche, an unusual or powerful experience at work, in-depth experience in under-represented developing region, work that deals with critical or evolving social issues, significant and high-impact volunteer work. These are just examples. For the top 2-3 factors you mention, describe each briefly and now how/why it will enable you to contribute. After this substantive discussion, if you wish and if you have room, you can add a couple more points in a concluding sentence or two – but there is no need to do so.
13. Optional question: Is there any additional information that is critical for the Executive MBA Admissions Committee to know that has not been covered elsewhere in this application?
The use of the phrase “is critical” indicates that you should not use this essay simply to further market yourself; write it only if there is an essential item not mentioned that the adcom must know in order to have a full understanding of your candidacy. Obviously you’d need to discuss things such as an unimpressive undergrad record, gap in resume, etc. But given the opportunity to discuss a range of issues that the regular essays present, you should not add another “interesting” experience here.
“Applications are reviewed, and acceptance decisions made, as the application are received. This means that the class can fill up some months in advance of the date it actually starts. We strongly recommend that you apply early.”
Check out our other executive MBA essay tips.