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How to get into INSEAD? INSEAD MBA Admissions Decoded

How to get into INSEAD? INSEAD MBA Admissions Decoded
A 12 min read

With over 90 nationalities represented in its class, INSEAD is ‘The Business School for the World.’ Ranked among the best international business schools, it offers a rigorous one-year MBA program. However, to get into INSEAD, along with a good GMAT score, a robust profile can be a make-or-break parameter. It has many unique and stringent requirements for its admissions process.

So, how to get into INSEAD?

To help you with your INSEAD MBA Admissions process, we have come up with a Webinar series on the MBA Application Journey. In this series, we talk to MBA candidates from top business schools to learn about their journey and understand how they got into their dream school.

We interviewed Tuhina Singh, a current INSEAD MBA student. She graduated from MIT Manipal, post which she worked with Schneider Electric for seven years. She started working as an Electromechanical design engineer for two years, after which she worked as a Global competency program leader for two years. Before joining INSEAD MBA, she was already working in France for six years as a strategic marketing manager, at Schneider Electric.


Below is her video interview with Aayush – a first-year student at Columbia Business School, and e-GMAT student who scored 750 on the GMAT. You can also read this article to get an overall picture of Tuhina’s MBA Journey.


Did you know the average GMAT score range for INSEAD MBA Class is between 701 to 711 in the past few years? We can help you achieve that. Why don’t you start your GMAT Preparation by trying out our FREE Trial? We are the most reviewed online GMAT Prep company on the GMATClub with more than 1870 reviews (as on 8th May 2020).


This article is based on the Q&A Webinar with Tuhina. You can click on the link below to jump to the relevant section. Here is a brief outline of the article:


Why INSEAD one-year MBA?

Aayush – How did you end up choosing INSEAD one-year MBA program? What was your motivation behind a 1-year MBA versus a 2-year MBA?

Tuhina – I was sure that I wanted to pursue a one-year MBA. Firstly, I did not want to invest my time and money into a two-year MBA program. I already had a work experience of 7 years and was not looking for an industry change.

Secondly, I was not looking for a significant switch in my career and wanted to get an MBA to accelerate my career. Thus the need to do a 2-year MBA was not there.

However, if you have a few years of experience and are looking to spend a lot of time on campus and want to try out an internship in different industries, then a two-year MBA will make more sense.


Generally, people who want to switch their careers or who are not clear about which industry or career path to take, pursue a two-year MBA. A two-year MBA allows you to explore new industries and trying out different paths. For example, a one-year MBA does not have an internship program. Thus, if you want to explore new career paths, a one-year MBA is not a good option for you.


Aayush – Why Europe school over US or Singapore Schools?

why INSEAD one-year MBA

Tuhina – I was already working in France before I started my MBA from INSEAD and was looking to continue in France or other neighboring European countries. I was looking to settle in Europe, and thus, pursuing my MBA from a European business school made sense.

To decide between the US, Europe, Singapore, or other country business schools, first think about in which geography you want to work in the future. For example, if you want to work in the Middle East market after your MBA, then the INSEAD Abu Dhabi campus is best suited for you. Similarly, if you plan to work in the US after your MBA, then pursuing a master’s from the US, can open work opportunities there.

Besides, INSEAD allows you to choose which of the three campuses you want to pursue your MBA. INSEAD has three campuses – France, Abu Dhabi, and Singapore. You can also opt for an exchange program. For example, you can do four months in Singapore and then come to France. Thus, you have a lot of flexibility.

With the advantage of getting an MBA at any of its campuses, INSEAD also gives you recruitment opportunities all over the globe, a lot more in Europe, the Middle East, and France.

Learn more about the INSEAD MBA Class profile and its placement report.


Aayush – What attracted you to INSEAD?

Tuhina – INSEAD is a place where you have so much diversity. You have people coming in from various cultures, and it allows you to work with a set of very diverse people. Besides, such an environment trains you to flourish in an organizational environment that values diversity. Thus, another thing that attracted me to INSEAD was its diverse class profile.

You need to make sure that the business school you choose is the right fit for you. You need to talk to people from the school you are applying to and see if their culture fits you. I also had a chat with INSEAD students before joining. Learn how to choose a business school that is the right fit for you.



How to get into INSEAD: MBA Application Tips

how to get into INSEAD

Aayush – How vital is your undergrad GPA for the INSEAD MBA application?

Tuhina – There were four pillars that INSEAD was looking for in an applicant:

  1. Academic Capacity (GPA, GMAT/GRE)
  2. International Experience
  3. Leadership skills
  4. Extra-curricular activities

You should be aware that it’s not required for you to be perfect in all four areas. If you can highlight things that you good at, out of these four pillars, it will cover up for other shortfalls.

For example, I did not have a lot of experience outside my work. However, my high GPA and my international experience helped me.

Even if you have a poor GPA score, INSEAD MBA Application essay offers you an option to write an optional essay where you can highlight things that you feel are week in your application. This is your opportunity to write about why you had a low GPA.

Here is an article on the importance of GPA score and how you can compensate for a low GPA?

Thus, it is essential to know all the elements that a business school’s admissions committee is looking for in an applicant and highlight those in your application.

Did you know the average GMAT score range for INSEAD MBA Class is between 701 to 711 in the past few years? We can help you achieve that. Why don’t you start your GMAT Preparation by trying out our FREE Trial? We are the most reviewed online GMAT Prep company on the GMATClub with more than 1870 reviews (as on 8th May 2020).


Aayush – Is it essential to have an international experience to get into INSEAD?

Tuhina – No. As I said earlier, there are other components that you can focus on. A lot of students in my class had an international experience. However, a significant amount of them did not have it. You need to understand that INSEAD is looking for your ability to work with a diverse set of people. They are trying to make you ready to work with people who come from different backgrounds.

Thus, even if you do not have an international experience, you can highlight situations where you have worked with a different set of people that think differently from you—for example, highlight instances where you were able to adapt to a situation.

Your INSEAD MBA Optional Essay is an excellent place to highlight any shortfalls that you feel are there in your application. Here are some tips for writing INSEAD MBA Essay questions.


Aayush – How did you attack the “Failure” question in your INSEAD MBA Application?

Tuhina – The failure that you highlight does not need to be dramatic. For example, you say that I started a company, and it went bankrupt.

It could be a small project that you did not handle well or a deadline that you missed.

Also, make sure with the failure you highlight your takeaways from it. The admissions committee is not looking for your failures, but how you learned from it and what you would have done differently.

Thus, do not worry about writing a big dramatic story. It can be something small. But, write it in such a way that you can communicate your learnings and takeaways.


Aayush – How did you answer your Weaknesses questions in your INSEAD MBA Essay?

Tuhina – The best thing to do is to ask about your weaknesses from other people. I remember asking my manager and a couple of people from my family.

Similar to your failure question, while writing about your weaknesses, highlight how you are working on them or any positive takeaways that you got from it. Besides, the admissions committee is not looking out for your weaknesses to access you. They want to know how you are overcoming it.

One way to write this question is by talking about how you are working on your weakness.

Some people avoid answering the question and try to turn it into a strength. For example, ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I am a perfectionist.’ The admissions committee wants to know how genuine and self-aware you are about your weaknesses. Besides, everybody has a weakness.


Aayush – How did you prepare for the INSEAD MBA interview?

how tp prepare for INSEAD interview

Tuhina – We have two types of interviews at INSEAD –

  1. Video Interview: There will be a sequence of four questions for which you get 30 seconds to think and then a minute to record it.


The questions asked for the video interview are quite common interview questions such as:

    • What is your Strength?
    • Tell me about your Weaknesses?
    • Tell me about a time you took Leadership.

For this type of interview, you need to prepare your stories and experiences in line with the questions beforehand.

Thus, go through the list of standard questions asked in an interview. Prepare your stories and experiences for each type of question and do mock interviews. Try practicing in front of a screen cause your screen presence is also essential.

  1. Interview with Alumni: I had two meetings with Alumni, which were very relaxed. What the Alumni is looking for is how well you will fit in the business school. Be calm and confident. The interview is very conversational, and to prepare for this interview, you need to know your stories well and practice to make sure that you are giving enough content.

Here are some MBA interview tips with the list of most common questions.



How to get into INSEAD: Should you hire a consultant?

Aayush – Why did you hire an MBA consultant? Do you think it was the right decision?

Tuhina – Hiring an MBA consultant is a very personal choice. When I was going through my INSEAD MBA application, I noticed that there were many questions, and as I had never done this type of exercise before, I decided to hire a consultant.

Some people can reflect and write their MBA applications well. But it is a skill that I did not have. I struggled with expressing my stories and needed some help. You can ask your friends who have gone through writing MBA applications or discuss it with your family. However, at that point, I did not have anybody that I can rely on, and thus I chose to hire a consultant.

| Keep in mind that hiring a consultant is not a shortcut. It does not increase your chances of getting an admit. Even if you hire a consultant, you must come up with your stories. You need to brainstorm with them, and they are there to guide you on how you can articulate your story. If you do not have anyone to help you, then going to a consultant is the right choice.



How to get into INSEAD: 3 things Tuhina would have done differently

Aayush – If you were to apply all over again, what would be the three things you would do differently?

Tuhina – Firstly, I would talk to more people and alumni. I was shy to reach out to people on LinkedIn and did not speak with them. Secondly, look up at the career development center of the business school. What types of companies come, or what is the on-campus recruitment process?

A lot of us go after the brand of the business school, but look at their placement record too. You should know what happens post-MBA. Where are the students placed, in which industry or geography?

| Find out the sector you want to work in, how many companies come from that sector to offer recruitment and how many of them are willing to sponsor your student visa, etc.

Thirdly, I think I could have found out the academic curriculum of the school:

    • What kind of professor they have, and who is the star professor?
    • What are the best courses?
    • Is there any other particular course that INSEAD is known for?
    • What is the kind of electives I can take?


INSEAD MBA Admissions and Placements:  Impact of COVID-19 pandemic

Aayush – How has the current pandemic affected your recruitment? How will it affect admissions for 2021 intake?

Tuhina – The current coronavirus pandemic has affected the classes held on campus and now have online courses through Zoom. We were lucky that we know our classmates, which is making the shift to online classes a bit easier. Of course, I miss the campus and meeting my friends. But, in this case, this is the best we can do. However, the situation must be much better once the new batch of MBA comes in 2021 intake.

I certainly do think that the worst-hit on recruitment will be taken by our class who is graduating this July. We are still getting companies for recruitment, but some have also dropped. Also, there are a lot of consulting companies that are coming for our placement.

Thus, this year’s placement is going to be harder as compared to last year. However, by the time the 2021 intake batch graduates, the situation will be much better. Besides, INSEAD is offering placement support after graduation.

Thus, my recommendation would be, if you are applying for 2021 intake, do not stop your application process. But, at the same time, find out what is happening in the school. How many companies are coming and how are the students placed.


Questions asked by Webinar Attendees

Question 1: How different are the recruitment options in the two intakes?

Tuhina – The most important difference is the fact that you can do an internship with January intake. Also, a lot of those internship converts into offers. Apart from that, most of the companies come for both the intakes.

90% of the company comes two times to INSEAD. Thus, there is no significant difference. I do know some companies that come only for January intake, and the reason is that the recruitment season matches with the US business schools. Thus, some companies only come in January to INSEAD. But it is very few of them.


Question 2: Insights for the scope of MBA after 12 years of experience in INSEAD?

Tuhina – I have a lot of friends who had more experience than me as well as friends who had less more experience. There is a range over here, which varies. Thus, if you have more/less experience than the average, make sure you can convey why you are doing an MBA and why it is the right path for you.

Besides, business schools are looking for diversity. If you are bringing something different to the table, it will set you apart.

For example, if you have two years of experience, you should be able to communicate that you have the right amount of exposure through your essays or application.


Question 3: What Scholarships does INSEAD offer?

Tuhina – INSEAD has a list of different scholarships for which you can get information on their website. After you get admitted, INSEAD reaches out to you for Scholarships and provide you with the list. You can apply for five different types of scholarships. Each scholarship has its process. You might have to write a few more essays, or you might have to attend an interview. So, the process of getting a scholarship differs.

 Here is the list of MBA scholarships for Indian and International students.


Question 4: Does INSEAD considering deferrals, for now, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tuhina – I do know that INSEAD offers deferrals, but I do not know if they are offering specifically for the COVID-19 situation. Also, INSEAD is having a conversation with students starting in Aug 2020 about various options that they can offer to them. For example, they are discussing the to start the classes a little later, rather than providing an online course.


Question 5: What kind of current students do you approach to for insight into the business school?

Tuhina – I think you should look for people with who you have similarities. Look for students who have worked in the same industry as you. Or who have come from the same geography as you? Thus, when you reach out to them say through LinkedIn, you can be like: “Hi, I am XYZ. We both went to the same school.”

Thus, if you can make a connection on something common, it definitely helps. If not, I would reach out to the current batch people who might still have in mind their application process or people who are just graduated or still pursuing their MBA.

Having some sought of a link to start the conversation can be an excellent strategy to reach out. Also, make sure that you write your message in such a way that it shows your interest and why you choose that person.


Question 6: How relevant is career progression in the application?

Tuhina – It is not that relevant. I have met people in INSEAD who started something, failed at it, and then completely started something else. What is important is to show that, if you have done a lot of switching in your career, what was the reason behind it. Thus, it does not matter what you did previously if you are authentic and able to communicate why you are switching careers.

Besides, diversity of experience brings out different stories and learning that you can highlight in your application.

FAQs – How to get into INSEAD?

What is the average GMAT score required for INSEAD?

The average GMAT score range for its Class of 2020 is between 670-750.

Is INSEAD MBA Class diverse?

Yes. The Class of 2020 represents 88 nationalities.

What is the average salary of an INSEAD MBA graduate?

The average salary for Class 2019 is $105,900.

Is it worth to get an MBA?

Yes. Pursuing an MBA is worth it. But, its only worth the effort, money, and time you invest.

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