Category Archives: INSEAD

INSEAD Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines 2010-11

From INSEAD’s website:
Deadlines for September 2011 Intake (Class of July 2012)

1st Round
Deadline: 29 September 2010
Interview Decision: 5 November 2010

Final Decision: 17 December 2010

2nd Round
Deadline: 1 December 2010
Interview Decision: 14 January 2011
Final Decision: 25 February 2011

3rd Round
Deadline: 9 March 2011
Interview Decision: 15 April 2011
Final Decision: 27 May 2011

Deadlines for January 2012 Intake (Class of December 2012)

1st Round
Deadline: 30 March 2011
Interview Decision: 13 May 2011
Final Decision: 24 June 2011

2nd Round
Deadline: 15 June 2011
Interview Decision: 22 July 2011
Final Decision: 2 September 2011

3rd Round
Deadline: 3 August 2011
Interview Decision: 9 September 2011
Final Decision: 14 October 2011

Please note the following:

“*To be included in a specific round, applications must be complete and submitted by midnight (23.59) Central European Time on the day of deadline.

Competition for each round is relatively equal, so there is generally little advantage to be gained by early application.  Whenever you apply, please make sure that you submit a complete and well-prepared application pack.”

INSEAD has two sets of essays – one that is related specifically to the details of your work, and the other more personal. I write my comments and tips below:

Job-related Essays

1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

These two job-related essays are straightforward and you need to just answer the questions directly, giving the admissions committee the information and facts they are looking for. This means that you do not need to tell any personal story related to your work here. Unemployed at the moment? Describe your most recent position. You can explain what you have been doing during your unemployment in the 2nd essay below, and/or in the optional essay.

2. Please give us 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? (250 words)

Describe your career progress since graduating from university. You’ll end up mentioning some of the same information that’s on your resume, but be sure you’re not simply cutting and pasting from your resume. Use this space to explain your career growth in a way that you can’t on your resume. Things to consider: Why did you choose the path that you did? Why were you promoted? What had you contributed overall? The admissions committee wants to understand, in a nutshell, how you got to where you are now.


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 development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)

This is a personal essay that requires you to reflect honestly on yourself. When discussing strengths and weaknesses, choose personal characteristics (as instructed) rather than skills or areas of expertise. Some people confuse the two and write about their intellectual or professional abilities. However, INSEAD wants to know about you as a person. And when choosing your weakness(es), be honest and prudent at the same time. INSEAD wants you to be self-aware enough to write about a real flaw, but you also don’t want to make them nervous by discussing a weakness that is serious enough to raise doubts about your desirability as a candidate. (Hint: Lack of confidence, a bad temper, and poor communication ability are examples that will put your application at great risk.)

Finally, you should support your essay with details of the experiences/people that have shaped you and show the reader how you have displayed those qualities in your adult life.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)

This is very straightforward. When choosing your examples, try and find ones that show different aspects of your experiences and abilities. Talk about what you did and what impact you had made.

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.)

You are asked to talk about a time when you failed somehow, where you couldn’t achieve what you had hoped. This is a question about dealing with setback and learning from experience. They want to know what happened, how you dealt with it, and how you have grown from the experience.

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.)

In writing this essay be sure to address your short and long term goals, the areas you need to develop through an MBA program, and how INSEAD can help you in that endeavor. This is the essay where the admissions committee will confirm your professional focus and sincerity in attending their school. Are you realistic in terms of your career plan? Have you thought it through, perhaps even spoken to people in your target field? Have you researched well INSEAD’s offerings? How well you have done your homework will show clearly in this essay.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:

The following two essays are used to get a sense of your cultural sensitivity. This is important to INSEAD as INSEAD focuses on global business and has an unusually diverse student body.

a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or

This is a good option if you have experienced hardship adjusting to or accepting some aspects of another culture. While culture is not limited to geography (e.g., you could talk about culture shock in terms of a different work environment, gender, etc.), I would recommend writing about culture shock as it relates to other countries (Option B below gives us an idea of what INSEAD is looking for in this set of questions).

Culture shock is the uncomfortable set of feelings one experiences when encountering certain unfamiliar aspects of another culture. It could be confusion, surprise, anger, fear, etc. Think about a time when you had experienced something like this, and talk about what that experience was like. What was it, how did you react or deal with it, and how have you changed or grown as a result?

b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)

This is an option for those who have not had much experience interacting with other cultures, or who have not traveled or traveled much outside their home countries. In this case, what would you say to someone visiting your country? How would you describe your country? What advice would you give to him or her in terms of adjusting to or understanding your country? Being able to see your country from a foreigner’s point of view and thereby being able to anticipate what advice the foreigner might need shows cultural sensitivity.

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.

Use this essay to discuss any aspect of your candidacy that you haven’t yet had a chance to share with the admissions committee. If discussing another story, be sure it provides a perspective not offered by the other essays in the set. Otherwise, if you have a potential concern in your application (e.g., no current supervisor recommendation, poor or mediocre grades or test scores, employment gap(s)), please explain that here.

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.

This is a straightforward question asking reapplicants to update their applications. Since you were denied in the past, what efforts have you made to become a stronger candidate? Why do you still wish to attend INSEAD?