My comments are in red; Insead’s questions and dates are in black.
October 18, 2005; December 6, 2006; January 31, 2006; March 28, 2006
Each essay topic listed below and in the subsequent pages must be answered.
1. Give a candid description of yourself, 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. (400 words approx.)
For a question like this I recommend two strengths and one weakness. If you can choose one anecdote that reveals both the strengths and the weakness, you will have a strong essay. Don’t forget to discuss how these qualities influenced your personal development.
A word on weaknesses. Be honest without going overboard. Don’t make up a phony weakness. I attended an HBS info session last night. One of the alumni said that he discussed a "phony weakness" in his essays (required for HBS that year) and his interviewer focused right on it, and basically said, "Come on. What’s a real weakness?" He had to get real in a hurry and on the spot. Take advantage of the essays: Give it some thought and respond with the benefit of that reflection.. For more information, please see "Flaws Make You Real."
2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)
Try to take accomplishments from different arenas of your life. (But don’t go back to high school and earlier to do so.) The accomplishments should show impact, contribution, and for Insead at least one should have a multi-cultural flavor.
3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)
In choosing the situation, here’s a case when you can go back in time a little — let’s say 2-5 years. You can illustrate how you learned from this situation and were able to meet similar objectives next time around.
4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)
This is a forward-looking career goals question. Use the past to set context for your future and show that your goals are anchored in experience. Then explain how Insead with its intense, one-year, general management program and strong international focus will help you achieve your goals.
5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)
These two have been part of the Insead repertoire for several years. Choose the one that is easiest for you to answer and allows you to bring out a facet of your experience not found in the other essays.
6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (200 words approx.) This essay is optional.
Take advantage of the optional essay to give them one more reason to admit you. DON’T use it for a grand summary, a restatement of your other essays, or something similarly boring, superficial, and repetitive. A tight, focused essay highlighting something you haven’t yet discussed.
7. In case of reapplication, please use this page. Your essay should state any new aspects of professional, international, academic, or personal development since your last application. We would also like you to explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. This essay should not exceed 400 words.
Until recently, Insead did not consider reapplications. The key question: How are you better this year than last? What has changed to make you more worthy of the fat envelope?
If you would like help with your INSEAD MBA application, please consider Accepted.com’s MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or a INSEAD Comprehensive Package, which includes essay editing, interview coaching, consultation, and a resume edit for the INSEAD MBA application.