The INSEAD MBA interview is a dynamic one. In order to evaluate applicants, INSEAD consults a pool of carefully chosen alumni interviewers from around the globe. Because interviewers are given a lot of leeway, the format, style, and tempo of interviews can vary greatly. It makes it difficult to know what to expect.
For instance, you can’t assume that your interviewer at an INSEAD interview has read your file. In contrast, at schools like Harvard Business School, you are paired with an admissions officer who has gone over your entire file and has prepared questions specifically for you (for more information on the HBS interview, see this recent article by my Fortuna Admissions colleague Karla Cohen). The school is demonstrating how much it values the perspective its graduates can bring to the interview process and to you as a candidate by empowering alumni to support candidate assessment.
I have provided countless MBA aspirants with advice on the peculiarities of its admissions process, from how to approach all seven INSEAD essays to preparing for the INSEAD interview. I am a professional coach at Fortuna Admissions and a former Assistant Director for INSEAD’s MBA Program in France. The following information will help you to successfully prepare for the INSEAD interview and gain admission.
INSEAD is among the top schools that enlist alumni to conduct MBA admissions interviews.
The Fontainebleau, France-based program makes an effort to pair you with an alumnus who shares your profile and, for the sake of diversity, another who comes from a very different background. It’s a sign of how highly the institution values the insight its graduates can contribute to both the interview process and you as a candidate.
Participating in an interview prep session with Fortuna significantly increases your chance of admission: 89% of clients invited to interview at a top European school in Round 1 were admitted (far above the estimated 40-50% that schools say they admit) You can register for MBA Interview Prep directly online or look into MBA Packages.
By design, INSEAD’s alumni-led format fosters a conversational experience. Unlike an interview with an admissions representative, it is a priceless chance to determine whether the school is a good fit for you from someone who has been in your position. You can anticipate being matched with two interviewers in your current city of residence during a typical year (interviews are not conducted on campus). You might be invited to an in-person or online interview depending on where you live.
There is a lot of variation in terms of format because INSEAD uses a pool of thousands of alumni interviewers. It then becomes more dynamic because INSEAD gives its interviewers some leeway at this point. Your interviewer’s personality and line of work will frequently determine the tone, style, context, and length. Average length, for example, is about an hour. However, some interviews may last only 30 minutes, while others may last up to two hours. One of my Fortuna Admissions clients had a four-hour interview (it was conducted in person before the pandemic, which can allow for longer chat times). Although unlikely, especially if your interview was conducted virtually, it is still possible.
Here are my top suggestions for preparing for a successful INSEAD interview, informed by my experience as a Fortuna expert coach and former assistant director of the INSEAD MBA program, given the high degree of variability.
In addition to the best advice listed below, you can watch my quick video strategy session with Caroline Diarte Edwards, co-founder of Fortuna and former director of INSEAD Admissions:
8 Tips for a Successful MBA Interview with INSEAD
Alumni interviewers frequently begin by asking, “Walk me through your resume” or “Tell me about yourself.” Your roughly one-minute MBA elevator pitch should be an engaging and succinct conversation starter that speaks to who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what motivates you to pursue a business school degree. Your objective is to generate interest in order to both make a good first impression and start a conversation.
Research your interviewers.
Given the varying nature of this format, research your interviewers beforehand and take precautions to protect yourself. Do a Google search and look at their LinkedIn profile, at the very least. Finding out what you might have in common can be a good way to start a conversation.
Connect the dots for them.
These two questions, “Why an MBA?” and “Why INSEAD?” are frequently posed. Alumni are the school’s ambassadors, so you should demonstrate your support for them by sharing your thoughtful and sincere understanding of their distinctive culture and values. Your interviewer is looking for, among other things, your leadership potential, compatibility with the institution, and capacity to draw connections between your professional experience and why the INSEAD MBA is the best way to further your aspirations.
Showcase your international experience.
Not only is having international experience advantageous, but it is also a key factor that will be considered by your interviewers. You’ll need to do more than just list your travels or international experiences. INSEAD seeks evidence that you have taken what you have learned from these experiences and have developed newfound cultural sensitivity and curiosity for cultures other than your own. Be aware that many short trips abroad don’t count for as much as longer stays, like working or studying abroad, where you would have had to acclimate to new environments. If you haven’t yet had the chance to work or study abroad for an extended period of time, you might instead talk about your experiences working with international teams and, more importantly, the lessons you’ve learned about intercultural cooperation.
As Caroline Diarte Edwards of Fortuna points out in her related article, How to Get into INSEAD, “Typically, those who gain admission without much experience outside of their own borders are from emerging markets (they may not have had the financial means to travel), but are still able to demonstrate that they have the ability to collaborate in an extremely diverse environment (qualities such as openness, flexibility, curiosity about other cultures, interpersonal skills, maturia, etc.).” ”.
Make your points focused and persuasive.
If you want to make sure that what you say is memorable and compelling during your interview, practice your key selling points whether or not your interviewer is taking notes. e. simple for them to keep in mind as they draft their report for the admissions team)
Prepare to address any concerns.
Be prepared to respond if your profile contains any warning signs, such as a low GMAT score or a gap in your employment history. Keep in mind that you are here because the school likes you, but there may be something they want to clarify. Take on any conflict with poise and confidence (it’s ok to take a moment to gather your thoughts). Some interviewers want to see how you respond when you are directly challenged or if you can think on your feet.
Ask great questions.
This is your excellent chance to ask the specific questions that can only be answered by someone who has completed the program. When it’s your turn to ask questions, make the most of the opportunity; avoid asking about information that can be found online easily. Because most people enjoy discussing themselves, it is a good idea to ask your interviewer about their own INSEAD experience.
Adapt to the video medium.
While most of us are accustomed to holding Zoom calls, if your INSEAD interview is taking place virtually, you want to make sure the best circumstances are present. Your Internet connection should be error-free, which should be obvious. Excellent audio, lighting, and attention to your environment are additional technical factors. According to Judith Silverman Hodara, a colleague of mine from Fortuna, who recently posted on virtual MBA interview advice:
One major advantage of conducting interviews at home is that you can set the mood for relaxation. For instance, no one will notice if you’re wearing pajamas underneath your suit jacket or if you’ve filled the room with calming essential oils. In light of this, be aware of your posture as well as other nonverbal cues like maintaining eye contact, making hand gestures, and your energy. Keep your eyes on your interviewer and avoid looking at the thumbnail of yourself that is displayed, as Judith advises (you can turn it off).
The best way to feel confident and make the most of your interview is to be well-informed and prepared. When the opportunity arises, try to have fun and remember to smile. It’s possible that the benefits of the experience and the potential relationship will go far beyond just being admitted to the incoming class.
Former assistant director of the INSEAD MBA program and knowledgeable coach at the MBA admissions consulting firm Fortuna Admissions is Melissa Jones. Sign up for a free consultation to receive an honest assessment of your chances of admission to a top MBA program. If you know what you want, you can sign up for MBA interview preparation with a Fortuna expert coach directly, or you can look into all of the services.
How to prep for the INSEAD MBA interview
How many people does INSEAD interview?
For each opening in their upcoming MBA class, prestigious programs like INSEAD typically interview two to three applicants. Even though being invited is already a fantastic indication that you have a chance of getting accepted, keep in mind that you are now a member of a very competitive subset of the overall applicant pool.
What is the acceptance rate of INSEAD?
The INSEAD acceptance rate is just 32%. Learn more about this highly-coveted program here.
Why is INSEAD acceptance rate high?
INSEAD students claim that this high acceptance rate and high yield rate are related. As opposed to the US custom of applying to multiple schools, INSEAD students typically only apply to INSEAD, meaning a high percentage of them accept the school’s offer.
How long are INSEAD interviews?
Two alumni will interview you, and one of them will be chosen based on their background. Interviews can last longer than an hour, but this is not always the case. Applicants typically say that the INSEAD interview process is more thorough.