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INSEAD MBA essays 2019-2020- Analysis and Tips

The INSEAD one-year MBA is one of the top MBA programs around the globe, recognized for its international vigor. If you aspire to secure an admit in the INSEAD MBA class, you must prepare yourself for a lengthy admission process. Since the INSEAD MBA program is only one-year long, the admission committee works hard to select students who can use INSEAD’s unique opportunities to assume leadership roles after the program.

This is why, unlike most elite business schools, the INSEAD MBA application consists of nine essay questions aimed at extracting as much information about your professional and personal character, as possible. The INSEAD MBA essays also provide you a scope to elaborate on your experiences and accomplishments to convince the admission committee that you belong to their MBA program.

INSEAD MBA essays analysis and tips

In this article, we are going to discuss different types of INSEAD MBA essays. We will also provide you tips on how to answer every kind of essay to improve your chance for admission into the INSEAD MBA program.

Here is the outline of this article:

Types of INSEAD MBA essays 2019-2020

Types of INSEAD MBA essays

There are two types of INSEAD MBA essays asked in the application:

  • Job description type essays
  • And, Motivation essays

There are four required and one optional short-answer type essay questions in the job description section, and three required and one optional essay questions in the motivation essays section. While numerous essay questions may make the INSEAD MBA application lengthier than other business school applications, we believe this allows you to convey your accomplishments, experiences, and aspirations in a better fashion.

Let’s have a look at each question from each type of INSEAD MBA essays, and understand what the admission committee look for in your answers:

INSEAD MBA essays: Job description type questions

Job description type questions

The job description type questions, as the name suggests, are meant to garner insights about your professional experience, as well as your short-term and long-term career goals. There are three mandatory and one optional job description type questions. These questions give you the liberty to talk about different aspects of your professional career individually. You don’t have to stress over missing out on any information as you get to answer the questions straight to the point.

All the job description questions are short-answer type questions, with word limits ranging from 100-300 words. The following questions are a part of the job description section of your application. With each question, we have included our tips on how to answer them:


Job description question #1

Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of the budget, clients/products and results achieved. (200 words maximum)

e-GMAT tips for question #1

For this question, you need to highlight the details about your daily responsibilities and how you go about your day at your current or most recent job. If you don’t have the experience of supervising any project or employees, you must elaborate on the results you have achieved from fulfilling your responsibilities.


Job description question #2

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

e-GMAT tips for question #2

Think of a scenario where you are trying to pursue your boss for a promotion. Which position do you think you should upgrade to? Your answer to this question must reflect on the next job role you would ideally want to pursue. However, the next step in your most recent job may be the reason why you considered to pursue an MBA in the first place. It may be the case with you that an MBA can help you make a desired career shift. If so, highlight this point in your answer to this question.


Job description question #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)

e-GMAT tip for question #3

You have a 300 word-limit to answer this question, as it requires a more in-depth insight on your journey from your graduation till the present time. If you have had a relatively straightforward journey, you can reflect upon your accomplishments from each job role to build a narrative of your professional career. Your answer must be brief, and you should stick to the moves you have made in your career along with your reasoning behind the moves.


Job description question #4

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

e-GMAT tip for question #4

The admission committee wants to know how better you can use an MBA from INSEAD to move towards your short-term and long-term career goals. INSEAD has excellent opportunities to offer to you, in terms of international exposure, networking, and polishing your skillset in newer functional areas. Thus, your answer must focus on how you can use these opportunities to advance your career. However, you must also highlight an alternative path you plan on taking to reach your goals if you don’t get to attend an INSEAD MBA.


Job description question #5

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

e-GMAT tip for question #5

This question is optional for you to answer. You should answer this question only if the scenario mentioned in the question matches your current situation, i.e., if you are currently unemployed or plan to leave your job soon. If you aren’t working any full-time job now, you can highlight the activities that you use to further your career, if any.

There may be other reasons for you to remain employed, such as you may be working on your personal goals or pursuing some kind of social work. You can use this space to highlight them as they showcase your ability to be productive without being engaged in any kind of paid work.


INSEAD MBA essays: Motivation essays

Motivation types INSEAD MBA Essays

The motivation essays in the INSEAD MBA application help the admission committee get a candid description of your personality, extra-curricular involvements, and the past experiences that have shaped you to be the person you are now. These essays are an excellent opportunity for you to covey the type of diversity you will be able to bring to the INSEAD MBA class. The admission committee is always on a look-out for students who will be a valuable addition to the institution’s diversity. The following essay questions will be asked in the motivation essay section of your MBA application:


Motivation 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).

e-GMAT tips for motivation essay #1

Everybody has some strong and weak points. The purpose of this essay questions to get a sense of your self-awareness and maturity. This can be your opportunity to highlight your unique qualities, may it be leadership skills or teamwork. Highlight the qualities that you think belong to the INSEAD MBA application.

We recommend you support your answer with examples as they help you stand out among thousands of applicants.

Also, you must not shy away from highlighting your weaknesses. However, you must also show the admission committee the amount of work you have to put into overcoming the weakness. Let them know about your strategy on how you plan to further improve on your weakness.


Motivation essay #2

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

e-GMAT tips for motivation essay #2

Fuel this essay question with your most significant accomplishments. Since you have just 400 words to answer this essay question, you should focus on only one or two of your accomplishments. Support your answer with the reasons why the accomplishments are particularly valuable to you.

To answer the failure component of this essay question, you don’t necessarily need to highlight the most significant failure of your life that had an emotional impact on you. You can use a real-life example of your failure, and how you worked your way through it. This will show them how mature you are.  On the other hand, the admission committee will know if you try to dress an accomplishment as a failure and act cool about it. It may hurt your chances of admission to the INSEAD MBA.

The final part of this essay question asks you to highlight the impact of your accomplishments and failure on your relationships with others. This part is a bit tricky, and you need to play a safe ground. Focus on the learning experience you and your teammates or your loved ones had from your success or failure. You may show that success or failure brought you closer to some people.


Motivation 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)

e-GMAT tips for motivation essay #3

Everything you did outside your school, college and professional job life counts as personal. Highlight some aspects of your personal life that have required significant investment from you in terms of time and effort. It can be about certain hobbies that you have always pursued or your interest in community work. Also, explain why they have always been so important to you.

The admission committee wants to see the kind of diversity you will be able to bring to the institution. The business schools love diversity. Explain through this essay that you will continue to pursue your interest during your INSEAD MBA. Sight examples through the specific INSEAD clubs or groups that you find interesting.


Motivation essay #4:

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

e-GMAT tips for motivation essay #4

This essay is optional, and you must attempt it only if you have something significant to convey to the admission committee, besides what you have already mentioned in the other parts of your application. If you can’t think of something meaningful that belongs in your INSEAD MBA application, we recommend you skip this essay.

However, if you have a significant hobby or achievement that you could not convey through your application, this essay can be a great opportunity for you.


Sample INSEAD MBA essays – Motivation type

Sample INSEAD MBA essays

Here is a sample of the INSEAD application motivation essay:

Note: The following sample essays are brief. They have been formulated just to give you an idea about how you can develop the same for your INSEAD MBA application.


Sample INSEAD application motivation essay #1

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?

“I have always been fond of the game of baseball. Baseball has been a part of life for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I would dedicate at least 3 hours post my school timing to playing baseball. The regular practice helped me improve my game, and at the age of 18, I was selected to head my district team in a district-level tournament.

Even today, baseball remains a big part of my life. I play baseball twice a week and have grown passionate about the sport. I will look forward to promoting inter-school baseball tournaments within INSEAD.

During my under-graduation years, I would spend my weekends with underprivileged kids from the countryside, who I knew through an NGO, Save the Child. I would teach them a basic level of English language. When they would get bored of studying, I would arrange small cricket tournaments for them. I realized that the sport was an excellent way for me to connect with them, which would indirectly help me in teaching them.

I think I fit well with INSEAD’s motto of ‘Work hard, play hard.’ Within INSEAD, I would like to learn on how better I can work for the community.”


Sample INSEAD application motivation essay #2

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

“I have witnessed my father manage a staff group of 25, who have helped him run his business in my small hometown. I have always been influenced by the way he would treat them. He has always been empathetic about their situation and would treat them with the utmost compassion. It had an impact on me because I have also witnessed other bosses treat their staff members not so well.

One time, when I was in the 6th standard, he had arranged langar (a food buffet setting in India) for the underprivileged. I was curious about the large gathering of people, and my father made me understand the significance of helping the needy. Since then, I would help my father do the regular chores for the langar that he arranges every month.

I had to move to a different city for my under-graduation, but my father’s influence stayed with me. I connected with an NGO, Save the Children, that worked towards spreading awareness about how one can have a better future through education. I would accompany them and teach the primary-level English language to the underprivileged kids in the countryside.”

That was all about different types of INSEAD MBA essays.

INSEAD MBA application also has a video statement component. You can refer to the following article for tips on creating an impressive video statement for your business school application: How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

Here are some other articles that can help you with your MBA essays:


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