INSEAD MBA Essay Questions 2011-2012
Q1. Briefly summarise 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. (250 words)
Without making this read like a resume, give specific highlights about your work such as skills you have developed e.g managing shop floor production, no. of people you have managed, in what capacity you managed them and where this places you in the organizational hierarchy. Try to provide a flavor of your leadership/managerial skills through the range of responsibilities you have handled. If you have any special achievements in say acquiring large accounts/client management, production targets, cost control etc, you can mention them.
Q2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?
You need to show that you have acquired progressively greater responsibility, so frame your growth story accordingly. Again, this is not a resume. You could focus on the range of exposure you have gained, extent of your growth vis-à-vis your peers, reasons for your quick growth etc. Also, if you have held widely differing roles in varied organizations, what was the common motivating factor for you through these? Given your unique accomplishments, which you can mention briefly, what would be the next logical growth step? Finally, what opportunities are you giving up for your INSEAD MBA?
Q3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words)
You need to make some cogent points about how you are justified in taking a professional/academic break e.g. a gap year where you are traveling to foreign countries to learn about different cultures, or a 6 month break in which you are pursuing a professional certification program in a certain area. The key is to show why this activity is important to your personal and professional development and how it will benefit you even during your MBA and post MBA, in terms of new skills, perspectives etc.
Q4. 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. (600 words)
An opportunity to not only bring out your persona in terms of strengths/weaknesses/interests, but also to show your unique style in talking about these. For this answer, both content and style matter. Be anecdotal if you wish, since they ask for examples anyway. Also, balance your content among strengths/weaknesses/interests. If you can talk about certain traits/skills, which will be relevant to you during the MBA program, that?s an added bonus.
Q5. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words)
Use varied backdrops to showcase your accomplishments e.g. a sporting event at college where you displayed exceptional leadership and determination to get success and acquiring a major contract from a tough client, bringing out your negotiation skills and perseverance. Whatever the accomplishments you choose, explain why they were difficult to achieve, how you developed as a consequence and how these experiences may benefit you at INSEAD.
Q6. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words)
What did you do when you meet with failure ? how did you breakdown the elements of that situation to learn why you failed and how you can avoid the same fate in future. Illustrate this using an anecdote from your life, and briefly mentioning what was the goal you had, what were you expected to do, what went wrong, and why you failed. What did you learn about yourself from the failure? Any other lessons and if possible, any further instances, where you applied these learnings?
Q7. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)
Differentiate between short term and long term goals. What is the link between them? E.g. post MBA you want to work in Product Management function in FMCG sector and subsequently, rise up the ladder in the Marketing function, eventually heading Global Marketing. Also, bring out why you aspire to these goals e.g. they are related to your deep interests, suited to the kind of skills you have and will build through the INSEAD MBA. Keep in mind also, the impact of the INSEAD MBA on your goals. Learn as much as you can about INSEAD and from as many different sources to help you get a wide perspective. This includes the school?s alumni, website, information events, campus tours, attending classes etc. Quote from 3-4 such sources, the most salient features about the INSEAD MBA which motivate you to study there.
Option1:Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words)
Since INSEAD has a highly diverse community, you need to show that you can adjust to new cultures and social groups, even if you experience somewhat of an initial shock. Describe personal/professional experiences where you had to interact with people from different cultures ?how this was difficult at first, how your expectations were not met and how you had to break out of your stereotyped thinking. In the process what did you learn? What helped you eventually cross over into the alien culture and become accepted? How will you apply this learning at INSEAD?
Option2:Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words)
Do you recognize that someone from a different culture can perceive things very differently from you when he/she visits your home country? What are some of the most obvious such differences e.g. if you are from an Asian country, a Westerner might be shocked at the general tendency in your country to avoid saying ?No? outright. Another such difference could be the extent to which personal issues are discussed/ work is done even during supposedly personal time. Pick up 2-3 such points and briefly explain them.
Q9. In case of reapplication, please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please also explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. (400 words)
Be straight to the point ? if you have continued working, any new skills/roles you have held which can strengthen your application e.g earlier you did not have people management experience and now you supervise 2 people. Maybe you worked on an international assignment where you had to work with a cross cultural team ? this can add value to your INSEAD application. Remember also to mention why you continue to remain interested in pursuing an INSEAD MBA ? how this ties in with your career goals (briefly) and why specifically INSEAD over any other school (briefly).
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