INSEAD MBA 2023

True to its motto of “The business school for the world”, INSEAD business school stands out among the who’s who of business schools by boasting a class diversity rate of 97% across 75+ countries. If INSEAD is on your list of target schools, you better be comfortable – oh and they test this, thoroughly! – working, and mingling, in a melting pot of cultures from across the globe!

As far as prospects are concerned, INSEAD business school is an absolute consulting powerhouse and has consistently ranked among the top 5 schools globally over the last 5 years. Not only the best in Europe, but INSEAD is no slouch even when compared to the mighty M7 – even outranking them on Financial Times in multiple years!

That being said, a high GMAT score is not necessarily going to give you a tremendous edge over your cohort – the score is just a foot in the door, what they care about way more is who you are, what’s your story, what challenges have you faced thus far, & will you represent INSEAD business school as a diverse world leader? And they’ll test each of these elements through a lot of essays – seven! – and two rounds of interviews other than KIRA interviews. They truly focus on your overall value addition, as they should!

1. SCHOOL PROFILE

INSEAD Business School – Ranking

1.2 CLASS PROFILE (AS OF 2021 BATCH)

INSEAD Business School – Class Profile

1.3 WHAT MAKES THE INSEAD MBA UNIQUE

1.3.1 INSEAD Business School – The King of Diversity

INSEAD traditionally has had the most diverse mix of students in its MBA program with the 2021 batch:

  1. Having over 95% international representation
  2. Spanning 75+ nationalities and
  3. With no more than 12% of candidates from a single country

1.3.2 Prestigious Alumni

INSEAD MBA program has produced the 2nd most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, only behind Harvard Business School. The school has also produced the sixth most number of billionaires and is among the top 20 universities to produce the most number of millionaires despite offering far fewer programs than that by the other universities in the Top 20 list.

INSEAD MBA alumni also comprise three heads of state.

1.3.3 Heavily Financed –

INSEAD has the highest endowment among all European B-schools with over 350 million Euros, over 5 times that of London Business School.

1.4 THE INSEAD CURRICULUM STRUCTURE

1. The program has one pre-MBA period called Period 0 followed by 5 periods during the MBA program itself.

a. Period 0 –

Includes – Online resources, webinars, case studies, interfacing with faculty members and a Business Foundation Week.

Goal –

  1. The goal of this period is to align the students better with the MBA program by bridging some pre-MBA gaps.
  2. The idea is to somewhat bring the vastly diverse student community up to speed with some preliminary knowledge and tools that one would need during the course of their MBA.

b. Period 1-3 –

Includes – A total of 14 core subjects.

These three periods make up the core courses that span basically all major business functions such as Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Operations, Strategy, Business Ethics and Leadership among other fundamental business skills.

These courses are not optional and are mandatory for all students.

c. Period 3-4 –

Includes – Period 3 transitioning into Period 4 comprise the Elective Courses.

Students must pick 11 elective courses out of 75 available electives.

Goal – The electives chosen essentially determine the major focus on a particular discipline as per the choosing of the student.

During this period, the student has the opportunity to switch campuses or even go for exchange programs.

d. Period 5 –

Includes – This period consists of a Capstone Course.

This period is mandatory for all students.

Goal – Essentially this is a Business Simulation game that tests the extent to which the students are able to apply their theoretical learning thus far to a practical business situation.

The objective of the game is to take business decisions that create accelerated growth for a business from a rather precarious position to begin with.

2 INSEAD MBA – APPLICATION PROCESS

2.1 APPLICATION CHECKLIST

1. Online submission of personal and professional information

  • During this stage, you must also fill in your preference of campus (France or Singapore)
  • The choice of campus has no bearing on admission selection chances

2. Resume

3. Two Letters of Recommendation

These involve three areas:

  1. Relationship to candidate
  2. Candidate Rating – to objectively judge the recommender’s evaluation of the candidate
  3. Recommender Questions to subjectively judge the recommender’s evaluation of the candidate

4. 4 mandatory and 1 optional Job Description Essays

5. 3 Mandatory and 1 optional Motivation Essays

6. Photograph

7. Non-refundable application fee of 250 Euros

8. Official Transcripts

9. GMAT or GRE Score

10. TOEFL scorecard (only if applicant’s native language is not English)

2.2 APPLICATION STAGES

1. Once those materials are submitted, applicants are given an application ID and the chance to upload a photograph of themselves, their official transcripts, their GMAT or GRE scores, and language certifications

2. Applicants must also pay a €250 application fee.

3. Within 48 hours of online application submission, the admissions committee sends applicants a unique link and instructions to complete four video interview questions.

  1. You’ll have 45 seconds to prepare for each question
  2. Following the above, you’ll have 60 seconds to answer each question
  3. Later in the blog you’ll find a list of the frequently asked questions in this video interview round
  4. The purpose of the video interview is to test how the applicants think on their feet, their true motivation, passion and who they really are.

4. The video interviews do not replace the face-to-face interviews with INSEAD alumni.

5. The application is deemed complete upon the submission of the video interview questions along with the above checklist items.

6. The admissions committee then notifies those applicants who are selected for an interview. INSEAD often schedules two interviews with applicants, which are conducted by INSEAD alumni in applicants’ countries of residence.

7. From application submission to the final decision, the end-to-end process consists of 7 stages, the timeline for which spans approximately 10 weeks.

2.3 INSEAD MBA APPLICATION DEADLINES

The new online application form opens approximately two months before each Round 1 application deadline.

Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated

Graphical user interface, application

Description automatically generated

Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated

3 SELECTION CRITERIA

3.1 GMAT SCORE REQUIRED FOR GETTING INTO INSEAD

The average GMAT score for the 2021 batch was close to 710. For Indian and Chinese applicants, the score required would be 20-30 points above the average of 710 since these applicants would be competing against a large cohort.

It is preferred that you have at least 75 percentiles in both Quant and Verbal sections on GMAT with a score of 6 or above for IR.

For GRE test takers, a minimum percentile of 80 is highly recommended across both Verbal and Quant sections

3.2 MINIMUM WORK EXPERIENCE REQUIRED

While INSEAD doesn’t state a hard number of years that you’d at least require for getting into the MBA program, it is strongly recommended that you have at least 2 years of work experience.

The average work-ex of the 2021 batch was about 5.5 years, with the range being between 2-10 years.

Candidates with less experience would also be considered in case they have a stellar personal and professional background and if they demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and maturity.

3.3 PREFERRED PROFILE OF APPLICANT

There is no fixed template of profile that INSEAD would prefer to the rest.

The profiles of the current batch members are highly diverse in terms of cultural background, experiences, educational background and age.

3.4 ATTRIBUTES INSEAD LOOKS FOR

1. Proven Leadership Capabilities – Growth driven through leadership acumen is highly preferred.

2. Value-add to the INSEAD community – What would you bring to the table for INSEAD? Mature, energetic, passionate, motivated individuals with good communication and interpersonal skills would have an advantage as such a personality would be expected to participate meaningfully in class discussions, thereby amplifying learning for all.

3. Academic Capacity – An undergraduate degree from a renowned university with a high CGPA would score high in terms of selection chances.

4. International Motivation/Global outlook – Candidates with international exposure – through work, study experiences or even travel – would be preferred. Such experiences are preferred because they show an ability of the applicant to adapt to multiple and diverse cultures – a must-have in what is essentially the most diverse MBA classroom in the world. Foreign language skills are a bonus!

3.5 EFFECT OF CHOICE OF CAMPUS ON SELECTION

None whatsoever. The INSEAD AdCom doesn’t even have access to your campus preference.

3.6 AGE LIMIT FOR ADMISSION

No formal age limit. However, the INSEAD MBA is primarily catered to professionals who are somewhat early into their career. Applicants with over 10 years of work experience are better off applying to the Executive MBA program in which their maturity would add more value to the overall peer learning.

3.7 LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

1. INSEAD wants to see your proficiency in English

  • Either through English medium education in your undergrad
  • Or through TOEFL

2. Pre-admission you must demonstrate knowledge of a second language

3. By the time of graduation from INSEAD, you must mandatorily learn the basics of a third language and pass certification for the same approved by a state body

3.8 ARE REAPPLICANTS GIVEN LESS PRIORITY?

Not at all! Treated exactly as a fresh application. However, it is recommended that the reapplication adds more value than the previous application had done.

4 APPLICATION ESSAYS AND LORS

4.1 JOB DESCRIPTION ESSAYS

4.1.1 Essay

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. (200 words maximum)

4.1.1.1 Tips

1. Keep it to the point

2. Avoid using technical jargons – assume that the reader of your essay has no more than elementary idea of your field

3. Describe the nature of your job in a way that someone not from that industry would also grasp what you do

4. Ensure that you cover all the points asked in the question

  • Current job role and responsibilities
  • Whether you supervise/lead a team and if so what’s the size of the team and the overall business function of this team
  • The budget or size of business you handle
  • What kind of products/services do you work with?
  • What kind of clients/customers do you serve?
  • What is the impact your work has had on the relevant stakeholders? Try quantifying this, if possible.

5. If your current work experience involves overseas exposure, clearly articulate that and also the challenges that you might have had to overcome to adapt to the overseas culture.

4.1.2 Essay 2

What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company instead of going to business school? (200 words maximum)

4.1.2.1 Tips

1. Don’t talk about the fact that you’d really like an MBA here because the question clearly is asking you about a hypothetical situation in which you don’t do an MBA now

2. Describe the next role – the designation and the responsibilities that would come with the new role

3. Describe what skills and experiences you already have that make you a good fit for this next desired role?

4. What skills are missing that you’d need to add to your arsenal for the next role?

5. What impact do you wish to achieve by taking on the next role?

4.1.3 Essay 3

Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (300 words maximum)

4.1.3.1 Tips

1. Super briefly mention the inspiration for your choice of study during your undergrad education

2. Follow it up with

  • Any further education you have undertaken
  • Any internships/live projects done post your UG
  • Jobs taken up post your UG. Go through the progression of job/role/industry changes in your professional career since you started

3. For all of the above, very clearly state the reason/motivation behind your choice at each step.

  • Without clearly articulated reason for each step, the answer remains incomplete.

4. If your career trajectory involved taking up leadership roles, clearly articulate the same along with the motivation behind taking up this leadership role.

5. If at any point post your UG, you had international exposure – through work, further studies or travel, clearly articulate the reason for taking this overseas opportunity and super briefly and very subtly touch upon the challenges that you might have had to overcome to adapt to the overseas culture.

4.1.4 Essay 4

Discuss your short and long-term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (100 words maximum)

4.1.4.1 Tips

1. One of the most important essay questions

2. Tests your awareness, clarity, vision and sense of purpose

3. The Short-term goal should comprise

  • The role you’re looking to take up right after your MBA
  • The industry you’re looking to venture into
  • Briefly mention the current skills and experiences that make you a natural fit for this next short-term goal

4. For long – Importantly, show how your short term goal will naturally equip you with the skills required to achieve your long term goals

5. For both, briefly mention the kind of impact you’d want to have on a micro (business) and macro (political/economic/social/technological/legal/environmental) level

4.1.5 Optional

If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.

4.1.5.1 Tips

You can answer this if the 2 month vocation period will add some value to your application.

  • Remember the 4 attributes that INSEAD looks for
  • Ask yourself if the activities in the 2 months period will contribute to any of those 4 attribute. If yes, go ahead and mention the activity. Also clearly mention the impact.
  • Impact on one level – the direct outcome of whatever you choose to do
  • Impact on a bigger level – how the activity adds to one or more of the 4 attributes INSEAD looks for

4.2 MOTIVATION ESSAYS

4.2.1 Essay 1

Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), 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 (maximum 500 words).

4.2.1.1 Tips

Straight away define yourself through your qualities. For example, – I am an extroverted, open-minded person and I value human relationships and continuously seek to solve problems to make the lives of people around me easier by one way or another.

This defines who you are AS A PERSON – forget career while answering the above, focus on you, the human!

Talk about experiences perhaps from your upbringing that helped shape your values, priorities and goals.

  • These combine to define your personal development.
  • Write from the heart, dig deep – paint an authentic picture.

Once you define the kind of person you are through the above, use this persona to bring out 2-3 of your strengths and weaknesses – each demonstrated through brief examples. For the weaknesses, very briefly mention what steps you’ve taken or are taking to address said weaknesses.

4.2.2 Essay 2

Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (maximum 400 words)

4.2.2.1 Tips

1. The achievement you write should be one in which there was perhaps some challenge that you needed to overcome.

2. Furthermore, the impact of this achievement must be:

  • Long-lasting and should still be relevant to your development
  • Very clearly articulated, thereby showing why you’re proud of the same

3. For the failure, don’t use fake failure stories like “My failure was I worked too hard and so my team members did not get enough credit”

  • No!
  • Failure means failure, instance where you failed – you could not deliver, plain and simple!
  • A cool thing to do would be to connect one of your weaknesses with this failure as the cause of the failure. Or you could give a different cause altogether – that works too.
  • Ensure you properly articulate that you’re fully aware of what led to that failure.
  • Articulate the impact of the failure – again on a micro and a macro level, if and when applicable.
  • Finally, what were your takeaways from that failure? What changes have you made to fix the cause of the failure? What would you do differently now in that same situation to avoid the failure?

4.2.3 Essay 3

Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words)

4.2.3.1 Tips

1. Right away open with the extra-curricular activities you’ve been a part of.

2. Ideally, these should be activities which you can use to add value to the INSEAD community as well – so activities that might align with the INSEAD culture.

3. Describe your involvement with each activity. Briefly mention the inspiration behind taking up said activity. Obviously clearly show the impact that activity has had on you – how it added value to your development

4. A side note – ESG activities get a lot of traction; so if you’ve been involved in any, you could mention those. But in case you do mention any ESG activity, it becomes very important that you clearly express the inspiration behind the same so as not to sound like a people pleaser.

4.2.4 Optional

Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (maximum 300 words)

4.2.4.1 Tips

1. This is to be written only if there are any other points about you that could contribute to one or more of the 4 attributes that INSEAD look for.

2. Else, you can let this go.

4.3 LETTER OF RECOMMENDATIONS

4.3.1 Who should write the LoRs?

Someone at the workplace – typically your manager or someone in upper management you’ve worked with – or someone elsewhere who can basically evaluate and advocate for your leadership potential in a business setting.

4.3.2 LoR Questions

1. How long have you known the candidate? Define your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met.

2. Comment on the candidate’s career progress to date and his/her career focus

3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major strengths? Comment on the factors that distinguish the candidate from other individuals at his/her level.

4. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major areas for development/improvement?

5. Comment on the candidate’s potential for senior management. Do you see him/her as a future leader?

6. Describe the candidate as a person. Comment on his/her ability to establish and maintain relationships, sensitivity to others, self-confidence, attitude,

etc. Specifically comment on the candidate’s behaviour or skills in a group setting/team environment.

4.3.2.1 Tips

The common tip for all of the above LoR questions would be:

1. Ideally, the strengths and weaknesses should be different from the ones you mentioned in your essay

2. The strengths and weaknesses in the two LoRs should ideally be different as well

3. If the recommender has graduated from a top university and/or have been involved in leadership positions in really renowned organizations, mention the same in Question #1 – doing so creates credibility

4. Every attribute- strengths, weaknesses, leadership potential etc. – that the recommender writes about must be supplemented with a suitable example to demonstrate the attribute.

5 SCHOLARSHIPS

5.1 TYPES OF SCHOLARSHIPS

1. Need based

2. Non-need Based – awarded based on:

  • Nationality
  • Professional background
  • Leadership capabilities
  • Exceptional women candidature

3. Spot awarded – no application required for this. Awarded on the basis of outstanding overall profile and application

5.2 RELEVANT SCHOLARSHIPS

1. INSEAD Indian Alumni Scholarship

  • For Indians
  • Upto 25K Euros

2. IAF (INSEAD Alumni Fund) Diversity Scholarship

  • For emerging countries
  • 10k to 18k Euros

3. INSEAD Deepak and Sunita Gupta Endowed Scholarships

  • 25k Euros
  • For emerging countries

4. INSEAD Diversity scholarship group

  • Diversity of background and financial need
  • 10k to 18k Euros

5. INSEAD Dean Brown Family Endowed Scholarships for Women

  • 18k to 25k Euros
  • For Women

5.3 FAQS

Q. Do the application essays contribute to my chances of receiving scholarship?

No, the application essays have no bearing on INSEAD offering scholarships. There are separate scholarship essays for the same.

Q. When should I fill the application form?

  1. Scholarship applications should be submitted at the interview stage of the admission process.
  2. Limit your applications to a maximum of 5 scholarships.
  3. Scholarship awards are deducted from the last instalment of your tuition fees.
  4. Company sponsored students will not be eligible for scholarships

Candidates in the first three rounds will apply for financial aid at interview stage. Round 4 candidates will not have access to scholarship applications. However, funds will be reserved to offer a number of merit scholarship awards upon admission.

If you do not receive an e-mail within one week from admission, this would unfortunately mean that you have not been selected.

Q. How to Apply for Scholarships?

To access the scholarship application form on-line, you will first need to register (important : your name should be indicated exactly as on your admission application).

Link for registration – https://sites.insead.edu/schlmgmt/index.cfm?fuseaction=program_route&prog=mba

Upon registering, you will receive your personal login ID and password to navigate through the scholarship website. You will first need to answer all the profile questions (personal contact details, educational and professional information). This will serve as a background for all applications. Thereafter, you will have the option to apply for different scholarships.

Throughout the period that the on-line application is available, you can modify or withdraw your scholarship applications as you please. You can track the status of

your on-line application with the help of your scholarship login ID and password. Please note that the scholarship portal is not part of the platform for the admitted candidates and therefore you will need to register for it separately (on the link provided above).

5.4 SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINES

Graphical user interface, application

Description automatically generated

Graphical user interface, text, application

Description automatically generated

6 Placement Stats (For 2021 Batch) 

  1. Placement Method 
  1. On-Campus Placement/Through INSEAD Alumni referrals – 50% 
  1. Through Previous Employer – 22% 
  1. Own Contacts – 15% 
  1. Pre-Placement Offer (through Summer Internships for Jan intake) – 8% 

Entrepreneurship – 4% (higher than that of Wharton, Kellog, Sloan and Columbia) 

6.3 Compensation Trends 

Sector Region Mean Salary (USD) 
Healthcare APAC 101800 
Healthcare EU 136900 
Retail APAC 116200 
Retail EU 117600 
Manufacturing EU 128800 
Investment Banking APAC 114500 
Private Equity/VC APAC 87300 
Investment Banking EU 133900 
Private Equity/VC EU 121700 
Insurance EU 87800 
Management Consulting EU 121200 
Management Consulting North America 152500 
Management Consulting APAC 116800 
Management Consulting Africa/Middle East 139400 
FinTech EU 105900 
E-Commerce APAC 89700 
E-Commerce EU 107200 
IT/Telecom APAC 83200 
IT/Telecom North America 139300 
IT/Telecom EU 105900 

Best suited for – People wanting to go into Management Consulting, IB, Private Equity. 

7 Interview Questions 

Frequently Asked Video Interview Questions –

Graphical user interface, text, application

Description automatically generated

Frequently Asked Interview Questions 

  1. Tell me something about yourself? 
  1. Walk me through your resume? 
  1. Why MBA? Why INSEAD school? 
  1. Why MBA now or Why MBA at this stage of your career? 
  1. What are your short & long term goals? 
  1. What is your Plan B if consulting/Investment banking does not happen? 
  1. What are your key strengths? Can you give some examples please? 
  1. What is your biggest weakness? Can you give some examples please? 
  1. How can you add value to the Class? 
  1. Why should we take you? 
  1. One reason that we should not select you? 
  1. Interests and Hobbies – Be prepared! 
  • Questions as basic as “Why do you do poetry (or any other activity” may be asked. 
  1. Some Situational & Behavioral Question 
  • What would you describe are your greatest achievement to date? 
  • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that? 
  • Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation? 
  1. Case questions are fairly common in MBA interview especially for consulting aspirants. Below are a few sample for to practice for: 
  • How many Golf balls can fit in a Boeing 747? 
  • What’s the global market size for smartphones? 
  1. Do you have any Question for us? 

Alumni interviewers are not chosen at random – the admissions committee tries to match applicants with interviewers who have similar career interests, or other things in common. Ultimately, doing well in your INSEAD MBA interviews isn’t about coming up with the perfect answers; it’s about having a genuine conversation and connecting with your interviewers. 

8 Other Schools You Should Consider

If INSEAD is a good fit for your profile, then you might want to consider the following schools as well: 

  • Reach Schools: Kellogg, UC Berkeley Haas, LBS, Said 
  • Target: HEC Paris, IESE, IE Business School, Judge, Tuck, Ross 
  • Safety Schools: Mannheim, SDA Bocconi, Warwick, Stern, Fuqua, Darden  
5 Things to Do When Preparing for GMAT with a Full-time Job

Leave a Reply