INSEAD Adds Video Test To MBA Application

One of three INSEAD campuses

One of three INSEAD campuses

Let’s go to the video tape!

INSEAD has become the latest business school to add a video component to its MBA admissions process for the September 2017 intake for the class that would graduate in July of 2018. The school also cut out one required essay this year, reducing the number of essays for admission to three.

The four-question video challenge will be available within one hour after a candidate submits an application, though applicants will have a week to complete this part of the application. “The video component will be a great opportunity for us to see applicants come to life,” explains Virginie Fougea, associate director of admissions at INSEAD, in a letter to admission consultants. “There are no right or wrong answers to these 4 questions. We just hope to offer applicants a fun and interactive way of applying to us!”


She is attempting to allay any potential concerns about the new requirement. “Should you feel the need to reassure applicants who found themselves in unexpected poor conditions while recording the video (the doorbell rings, the dog starts to bark, it is a total mess), you can tell them that we can exceptionally reset his/her answers to one or all 4 questions,” she writes.

INSEAD is the first prestige business school outside of North America to introduce a video test in admissions. The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management was the first school to pioneer the use of video in MBA application in 2012. Yale’s School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and several other schools have followed the move. Admissions directors say they like the test because the questions asked of applicants are not known and therefore provide a more candid look at an applicant than an essay might allow.

Caroline Diarte Edwards, the former admissions director of INSEAD who is a co-founder and director of Fortuna Admissions, says the school has been thinking about these changes for some time. “From my discussions with the admissions team, the goal with introducing the video component is really to enable the staff to observe the candidate much more directly. As INSEAD only has alumni interviews (admissions staff never interview candidates), the school rarely gets an opportunity to see the candidate in action.”


Caroline Diarte Edwards is a director with Fortuna Admissions

Caroline Diarte Edwards is a director with Fortuna Admissions

Video also allows admission officials to get a better sense of a candidate’s English language skills as well as professional presence–a critical attribute to judge a person’s ultimate employability. “There are many benefits of the video questions: it can be an opportunity to evaluate communication skills, English fluency and to see how they present themselves,” says Edwards. “I remember from my days as Admissions Director that with 3000 alumni admissions interviewers around the world, it is really impossible to ensure consistency in the interview process, and comparing candidates based on the feedback from interviewers can be very tricky indeed for the admissions committee.

“Sometimes one interviewer will rave about a candidate, and the other interviewer will want to ding them. (Candidates normally have two interviews). In such situations, the admissions committee can be left scratching their heads, wondering whose report they should give the most weight to. So the videos are really injecting an element of the ‘level playing field’ in terms of the evaluation of how the candidates perform ‘live’ and will be especially useful in evaluating borderline candidates and candidates who have very divergent feedback from their interviewers.”

Among the set of four questions applicants can likely expect, says Edwards is “something to evaluate the candidate’s motivation for applying to the school, which used to be part of an essay question until 2014, when it was removed in an effort to slim down the application a little. Understanding the school’s culture and the value they place on an international mindset are likely to be critical for these video questions.”


INSEAD also eliminated one 300-word essay question about a candidate’s experience of cultural diversity. “The quality of responses to this question were a bit hit and miss, as some candidates struggled to interpret the question and figure out what the school was looking for here,” says Edwards. “Most likely the school will be looking to evaluate the candidate’s international perspective via the video questions. Adaptability and flexibility in multi-cultural environments is really central to what the school is looking for so I expect to see this come through in the video component and this is also evaluated in the interviews.”

For INSEAD, these are fairly substantial year-over-year changes. As Edwards notes, “INSEAD doesn’t change its admissions process lightly. They experiment much less than other schools with trying different questions to shake things up. The set of essay questions has hardly changed since I applied to the program myself back in 2002. They also haven’t followed the rage amongst many other schools to drastically reduce the length of the application. The school really prides itself on how thorough the application process is and they prefer to err on the side of capturing too much rather than not enough information to make a decision.”


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