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How to Create a Winning MBA Application Video Essay

M BA application video essays are becoming a popular tool; MBA programs can use them to learn far more about candidates than the traditional application permits.

MBA Application Video Essay Tips

MBA admissions committees are relying more and more on technology to help them evaluate and manage their growing applicant pools. In recent years, leading MBA programs including Kellogg Northwestern , MIT Sloan , and Chicago Booth have incorporated a video component into their evaluation process. Video essays are excellent screening tools that allow admissions officers to assess candidates’ professional presence and communication skills.

Many applicants are unnerved by the MBA video essays. They certainly can be an anxiety-inducing step in the business school application process. However, we urge you to consider the benefits presented by video essays. We wrote this article to help you take full advantage of video essays and video interview questions.

Done well, a video response allows you to jump off the application page. Your goal is to impress the admissions committee so that they can’t wait to meet you in a face-to-face admissions interview. Let’s face it; the video essay is here to stay. So read on to learn how to ace this step in the admissions process!

While more business schools are utilizing video essays, the formats and styles can vary. We will discuss the two most common formats, reveal what admissions officers are really looking for in a video response, and share tips on how to produce an outstanding video essay.

MBA Video Essay Tips #1: Randomized, Timed Video Essays

Some MBA programs, including Kellogg, use a timed video essay format. In this video essay style, you will be presented a question on your computer screen, have a short amount of time (20 seconds or so) to organize your thoughts, and then have 60-90 seconds to answer. Your video will be recorded directly into your application via online software. Though you may be granted opportunities to practice, you will only have one opportunity to record your final response to each question once you leave the practice mode.

The number and type of questions you will be asked in this MBA application video essay and interviews is up to each school. Some schools ask a single question, whereas others ask three or four. In some cases, you will know the video essay prompts in advance and have time to design your response and practice your delivery.

However, most business schools expect an impromptu performance. They want to see if you can think on your feet. The good news is that you can prepare for some of the most common questions. Below we discuss three question types of video essay questions and provide a few examples of each one.

MBA Video Essay Sample Questions

Introduction questions video interview questions.

  • Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
  • Introduce yourself to your future classmates.
  • Who are you? Tell us about yourself?

Career Goals Video Interview Questions

  • What career are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How will our program help you achieve them?

Ice-breaker Video Interview Questions

  • What is your favorite book/travel destination/holiday?
  • What adjective describes you best and why?
  • What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life?

Behavioral Video Interview Questions

  • Talk about how you handled a disagreement with a team member.
  • Tell us about a time you were not going to be able to meet a deadline. How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell us about a time you helped someone in need.

MBA Video Essay Tips #2: Pre-Recorded, Open-Ended Video Essays

In contrast to the timed, random video questions, other MBA programs provide you with the opportunity to pre-record your response to a more open-ended prompt. MIT Sloan is perhaps best-known for employing this type of video essay.

MIT Sloan interviews often end with the final question, “Is there anything else I should know about you?” When admissions officers realized that the information applicants shared all kinds of interesting information at the conclusion of their interview, the MIT video essay question was born. The required 1-minute video MIT at the time of this writing is worded as follows:

“Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, be yourself.”

What do Admissions Committees look for in MBA application video essay responses?

While MBA application video essay questions come in many shapes and sizes, they are designed by admissions boards with some common goals in mind. First, the admissions officers use these videos as a new way to get to know applicants better. MBA admissions officers genuinely want to learn what makes you, you. Most video essay questions are open-ended, which will allow you the flexibility to choose what you want to share. This video essay gives you a whole new way to differentiate yourself, share unique personal interests, and grab the Admissions Committee’s attention.

Secondarily, the video essay enables an admissions committee to evaluate your communication skills. If English is your second language, they can judge your level of fluency. If you are a native speaker, the video interview will provide insight into how well you express yourself and your executive presence.

To a large degree, your Admissions reviewer will care more about how you present yourself than about the content of your responses. They are trying to figure out if you will be able to participate in class discussions and get a sense of how you might perform in front of recruiters. Additionally, they can evaluate how your personality will “fit” within the school’s culture. Are you timid, aggressive, confident, bubbly, or anxious? Don’t worry if you aren’t a person who is comfortable on camera or at ease with public speaking. MBA programs don’t expect or want everyone to sound and act the same. There is room in the MBA community for reserved and thoughtful students as well as for charismatic dynamos.

The randomized question format also tests your ability to think on your feet. Can you remain calm when faced with an unexpected question? Are you able to quickly organize your thoughts and deliver an answer on the spot? MBA essays can’t measure those abilities. An MBA application video interview is one of the admissions committee’s best tools for predicting if prospective students can handle the dynamic and unpredictable world we live in.

How to Prepare for Your MBA Essay Video

To prepare for both types of MBA video essays, you will want to begin by learning about the school’s fit qualities, determining which of your qualities or experiences best align with those value points, and practicing until you can deliver your responses in a polished, authentic way.

First, keep in mind that your video is not intended to be a summary of your application. The Admissions Committee has your application resume , cover letter, and letters of recommendation to learn about your professional history. The least successful videos are those in which applicants recite their employment history.

Treat your video essay as an opportunity to show another side of yourself beyond your professional persona. In a relatively lean application, this is key. Applicants often worry that if they fall into a particularly overrepresented applicant group (say, “consultants”) that they won’t be able to stand out . Find a way to use the video to differentiate yourself!

Do Your Research BEFORE You Create Your MBA Video Essay

To excel in the MBA video essays, you need to do your research to determine each program’s fit qualities . This is a two-part question: what is each school looking for when evaluating applicants, and which of your stories or experiences best exemplify what the school values?

During the brainstorming phase of this project, consider what your target school values and how your interests, personality, and values align. MBA programs certainly think about “fit” when evaluating candidates, and the video is a perfect way to demonstrate how your priorities match those of the school.

In the case of MIT Sloan, you might begin with the school’s mission: to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. This mission statement and Sloan’s culture more broadly emphasize the value the institution places on leadership, integrity, inquisitiveness, outside-the-box thinking, problem-solving, and “doing good.” Knowing this, you might opt to film yourself doing something creative, highlight a community service experience in which you impacted others, or showcase a product you built.

Another source of inspiration is MIT’s motto: mens et manus , or “mind and hand.” MIT Sloan believes that theories must be tested, and knowledge must be applied. Action learning is a core component of the curriculum, and the Admissions Committee seeks action-oriented, purposeful students. You might integrate action into your video by “showing” rather than “telling;” for example, you could shoot the video of you participating in a hobby you enjoy rather than simply explaining it.

Lastly, a common phrase shared within the MIT Sloan community is “Sloanies helping Sloanies.” The school prioritizes collaboration and inclusion among its students and across its programs, so you might highlight stories that involve you teaming up with friends or colleagues. Do any of your points of difference or personal interests exemplify these values?

Lastly, make a connection between the personal and professional aspects of your message. For example, suppose you want to focus on renewable energy after your MBA. In that case, you might consider filming your video while hiking a nature trail, sharing a story about your experience as an environmental volunteer, and highlighting Sloan’s sustainability certificate as a defining piece of your MBA plan.

Similarly, endeavor to connect your intended career path to classes, clubs, and resources that will further your career aspirations. Although you won’t know what random question you will receive, knowing the school’s “fit qualities” and your key differentiators can help you brainstorm building blocks for effective answers. For example, Kellogg offers students a wide array of global opportunities. This might lead you to talk about language lessons or a project you work on overseas.

Don’t Repeat Your MBA Application Resume

Repeating stories in the videos that you previously shared in your essays is a bad idea. The Admissions Committee wants the video essays to add dimension to the picture they already have of you based upon your MBA application. We urge you to draw upon fresh examples from your resume bullet points or introduce personal interests you haven’t discussed elsewhere.

As your next step, review your application package to determine if you neglected to showcase any of your points of difference or critical attributes that the program values. Look for connections between your personal interests and the school’s priorities. For example, Kellogg is known for its collaborative culture; therefore, you might want to key on a team-based experience in your response to add evidence that you fit with Kellogg’s culture.

Additionally, because effective essays focus on your recent past (within the past three years or so), you probably did not have a chance to mention formative experiences. Suppose you have overcome personal obstacles or are passionate about a topic unrelated to your career. If so, use your video essay to showcase activities that matter most to you and brief stories that exemplify who you really are.

Take Notes, But Don’t Memorize a Script

Having a video prompt in advance provides the opportunity to write out your thoughts. Nevertheless, you want to be prepared – but not scripted. Your notes should serve as a guide only and should not be referred to during the recording session. (Admissions officers will almost always be able to tell if you are reading notes.) In the case of randomized video questions, it may be helpful to have a notepad next to you to jot down ideas during the short preparation period. Writing notes may put you at ease, but aim not to look at them while the camera is on.

Practice, Practice, Practice for Your MBA Video Essay

Practice delivering answers to develop a sense of the pacing required to fit them within the time you are granted. Ask a friend (or admissions consultant) to ask you a few random questions or listen to your prepared statement with a stopwatch handy to time your responses. Be sure to stay on topic to complete entire responses in the given time. For timed response, practice enough times until you have a good sense of how long one minute is. Once the camera is rolling, it goes by faster than you think!

Tips for Recording Your MBA Video Essay

Once you’ve brainstormed and practiced, it’s time for lights, camera, and action. Whether you are sitting for a timed, on-the-spot question or recording your prepared response, shooting your video requires careful thought and patient preparation. Here are some logistical tips to make sure you have the technical details sorted out:

Location, Location, Location

Be mindful of your surroundings. Choose a location to record videos where you know you won’t be interrupted. For videos like MIT Sloan’s that allow for personal flair, applicants often choose to shoot their video in a meaningful location that ties into the story they plan to tell. This is an excellent idea in theory but can undermine your work if background movement or noise distract viewers from your presentation. Avoid any pedestrians or coworkers walking through your shot or traffic sounds in the background. For example, an applicant recorded her video in front of her favorite coffee shop, but the noise and foot traffic made it very difficult for the Admissions Committee to focus on the applicant herself.

Test the lighting and sound to make sure you will be seen and heard clearly. You want to ensure that, wherever you are, your camera microphone clearly picks up your voice. Showing your passion for environmentalism by recording yourself on a nature trail is an interesting idea, but not if the wind washes out your words.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some applicants don’t put ENOUGH thought into their location. Check the camera frame to ensure that no distractions appear (such as a pile of dirty laundry or an empty beer bottle). If you plan to record yourself in your home or apartment, clear away the dirty dishes and compost your dead houseplant first! Show the Admissions Committee that you care about your final product. Finally, check the strength of your Internet connection for timed videos to reduce the risk that you are disconnected during the video recording session.

Dress to Impress?

How you present yourself is just as important as your location choice. For timed videos like Kellogg’s, you should dress for success– at least from the waist up. Because the frame will only capture your face and shoulders, you are free to rock those sweatpants! Admissions officers prefer to see you dressed in business casual. Double-check your hair and makeup just as you would before an actual admissions interview.

If the school’s video prompt lends itself to showcasing a more personal side, dressing in business formal is not necessary. You have the freedom to use clothing as a means of expression. In the past, MIT Sloan applicants have worn their favorite sports team’s apparel, traditional clothing that reflects their culture, or just whatever makes them feel comfortable.

However, remember that while this video is personal, it is ALSO a professional application. Our former admissions officers have seen applicants who looked like they rolled out of bed five minutes before recording their video and once had an applicant submit a video of themselves in their bathing suit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Use good judgment in selecting what you wear.

Make Eye Contact

Look at the camera, especially when recording timed video essays on your computer. This can be a challenge because people naturally tend to look at their image on the screen rather than the camera lens. When you focus your gaze on the camera, you make “eye contact” with your viewer. Some applicants put a post-it note over their image on the screen to avoid being distracted by their own faces.

Timing is Everything

Time management is key to success in the overall application process, and the video essay component is no different.

Figure out the best time of day to record your video. Is your voice raspy in the morning? Are you tired and sluggish by the end of the day? You can practice recording your voice on other devices and play it back to compare. You might even consider a few vocal exercises to warm up your voice.

Don’t put the video essay off until the last minute. Don’t wait until minutes before the deadline. The pressure will be too intense. Additionally, video servers have been known to crash when too many procrastinators try to upload their videos simultaneously. We recommend you set aside about 20-30 minutes to complete the recording process, so you don’t feel rushed.

For timed essays, be aware of the time bar that shows how long you have been talking and how many seconds are remaining for your response. When you sense your time is almost up, quickly check the time bar so you can wrap up your statement without being cut off at the end.

Don’t panic if something goes wrong. As they say in the theater, the show must go on. Unexpected disruptions or technical difficulties may happen, so you need to display poise under pressure. Brush off mistakes rather than calling attention to them. If you lose your train of thought, pause to give your brain time to catch up with your mouth. If you need to answer multiple timed questions, don’t carry stress or mistakes from one question to the next. What will hurt you is cursing on camera when you make a mistake (I’m a former admissions officer, and I have seen it happen!).

Follow the Rules

Last but not least, stick to the guidelines the Admissions Committee has set forth. Keeping your video within the timeframe allowed (e.g., 60 seconds for MIT Sloan) shows you respect the committee’s time. MIT Sloan also stipulates that the video should be a single take of you speaking directly to the camera with no editing or production work. If it becomes evident that you hired a Hollywood-caliber video production company to help create your video, then you might win an Oscar but won’t be admitted to MIT Sloan. If there are too many people on your crew, it becomes impossible to identify the real talent, the applicant, or their production team. Not following the parameters may indicate a sense of self-importance or the mistaken belief that the rules don’t apply to you. While MIT Sloan is a school that admires people who challenge the status quo, they also expect applicants to play fair in the admissions process. So, play by the rules and find ways to be original within the constraints of this exercise– that is how you will demonstrate true creativity.

What Succeeds, What Fails

Having viewed thousands of video essays during their time in multiple admissions offices, MBA Prep School consultants have seen some video strategies work exceptionally well, and others fall flat.

Show and Tell

The benefit of a video, especially one in which you have some creative license, is your ability to communicate by showing in addition to telling. Whether showcasing a hidden talent like singing, a hobby like cooking, or an athletic interest like basketball, actions speak louder than words. In some cases, applicants choose to participate in an activity on-camera that they enjoy. One memorable applicant parasailed into the frame of his video. Before he even began speaking, an admissions officer could infer some information about him: he liked water sports, he was adventurous, perhaps he was even a risk-taker. It was a great use of action to convey something about him and allowed him more time to speak about other topics.

If you choose to “perform” during your video, be sure you are doing something you are actually GOOD at! Previous applicants have written and performed parodies of songs, changing the lyrics to reflect their stories and affinity for MIT Sloan. However, the videos were painful to watch if the applicants weren’t talented singers!

Other applicants have utilized a “show and tell” format. A candidate on a Peace Corp mission chose three items to tell the admissions committee about himself, one being the pot he used to cook food in daily while in his village. His creative framing succeeded because he had to pack light; therefore, each object had a special meaning. It’s important to make your “show and tell” unique. Too many applicants used a tablet computer to show photos of their travels, family, and hobbies. Often, there was nothing special or memorable presented in these videos.

Creativity Counts When It Serves a Purpose

Innovation is MIT’s lifeblood, so it is no surprise that applicants often use their video essays to illustrate their creativity. The risk is that your clever framing device takes over and comes across as a gimmick that distracts the viewer; remember, the purpose of the video essay is for the Admissions Committee to get to know you. One applicant sent a video of herself lip-syncing to a popular song intermixed with a time-lapse video of a pie baking in the oven. It wasn’t possible to infer what these images meant, so the video detracted from her application instead of enriching it.

Nothing Beats Authenticity

You don’t have to learn to parasail to capture the Admissions Committee’s attention. In fact, while creativity has its place in a video essay, it never can beat authenticity. An MIT Sloan applicant passionate about ending human trafficking simply spoke to the camera about her volunteer work in that area. Viewers could clearly sense her drive to find a solution to this problem. An engaged speaker sharing a personal story always wins against props or schtick. Presenting an authentic representation of yourself always wins over special effects.

Final Thoughts

Video essays give MBA applicants a chance to showcase their true selves, which is extremely valuable when competing with so many exceptional candidates for a select few spots. By putting thought and effort into this aspect of the application, you will meet the actual measure of success in this assignment: an invitation to meet the Admissions Committee for a real, live MBA admission interview !

Do Your Video Essays Stand Out?

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Related Articles: Essay Examples

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  • What Will You Contribute? Essay Example
  • Why MBA? and Why Our School? Essay Example
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  • Professional Experience Essay Example
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Homepage > MBA Admissions > How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

Posted by Nayeem Noor | Oct 4, 2022 | MBA Admissions , MBA Application Process

How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

Video essays are an integral part of the MBA application process for many business schools. They are also an excellent opportunity for the admission committee to evaluate your interpersonal skills.

Through the video essay, the admissions committee gets a more direct understanding of who you are, and you get a chance to substantiate the authenticity of your story and offer a glimpse into your personality.

Here is a brief outline of this article:

  • What is a video essay?

Types of MBA Video Essays

  • Top B-Schools which ask for video essays and common questions

Tip #1 – Plan your answers

  • Tip #2 – Create an ideal set-up for video recording
  • Tip #3 – Importance of practice
  • Tip #4 – Present yourself well

Tip #5 – Don’t get tensed

Instead, you can also watch this video on expert advice from admissions officers and consultants on how to create a video essay.

What is an MBA video essay?

The reason business schools made video essays a part of the MBA application was that they were looking for more genuine responses from applicants, without any direct involvement of admissions consultants or other professionals. Below are the responses of admission committees of Rotman, Kellogg, and INSEAD on why business schools ask Video Essays as a part of their application process?

  • University of Toronto’s Rotman School, the B-School, which pioneered the video essay as a part of the application process, says that the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different aptitudes and competencies in the admissions process.
  • Kellogg MBA Admissions committee, says, “the video essay provides students with an added opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community — in an interactive way.”
  • According to INSEAD’s Admissions committee , the video should be a unique opportunity for students to share their passions, their motivations, and who they are. The Admissions Committee is interested in finding an authentic view of the applicant as a person, to see how a student thinks on your feet and how he/she convey ideas.

Typically, the school will provide one or more questions, and some time to think about them (around 30 – 60 seconds per question) and is then expected to provide the school with a recorded answer.

Learn the importance of MBA Essays in Business School applications

Types of MBA Video Essays

There are two types of videos an applicant may be asked to submit as a part of the MBA application.

  • Questions specified in the school’s application instruction: In such questions, you will get an opportunity to prepare for the question prior. The question can vary from asking about your career path to introducing yourself to the admission committee.
  • Random Questions: School will ask a random question to each student. You will be provided a time frame to think and answer the questions. You must prepare yourself with some personal situational stories that are relevant to diverse topics.
  • Record offline and submit the video : Schools like MIT Sloan asks applicants to provide a video statement on the topic specified in the application instruction. Most of the school as for single take (no editing) videos not lasting more than one minute.

For some business schools such as Texas McCombs, the video essay is not mandatory to submit during application. But the student gets an optional video essay as a part of the application. If you get an optional video essay as part of the application, it is better to take it. The optional video essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your personality and the motivation to pursue an MBA program.

A video essay is one of the 5 types of MBA essays typically asked in a business school application.

Top B-Schools which ask for Video essays and common questions

B-schools and Video essay questions

Below are some of the top business schools which ask applicants to submit a video essay as a part of their admission process:

INSEAD Video Essay

After finishing your online application , you will receive an e-mail from the admission committee with a unique link to complete the video essay portion. Each applicant will be asked to record answers to 4 questions. The questions can be related to your interest in INSEAD, teamwork, diversity & culture, etc. After receiving the question, you will have 45 seconds to prepare each answer and 1 minute to record your answer.

You can practice on the INSEAD online platform before recording your answers. The practice session will have multiple questions available, and you practice as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. You can create an account on the online platform and come back later without any limit on the number of practice sessions.

Northwestern Kellogg Video Essay

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is the first amongst the M7 B-Schools, which popularized the video essay in the MBA admission process . After submitting your application and payment, you can access the video essay portal from your Kellogg application status page.

You will be asked to answer 3 questions. You will be given 20 seconds to think about the question and up to 1 minute to give your response. Out of 3 questions, Kellogg provides questions upfront in their application instructions for two, and one will be randomly selected question.

For the intake of 2020, the static questions given by the admission committee are, ‘Please introduce yourself to the admission committee’ and ‘What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?’.

The third question will be a behavioral type question that asks about how you handled a challenging situation in your professional or personal life. You can answer as many practice questions as required to get comfortable with format and technology in the application portal.

Yale SoM Video Essay

After submission of your application, you will receive access to the video questions portal. You will get three basic behavior-based questions as a part of the admission process . You will get 30 seconds to structure your thought and 90 seconds to respond to the questions. Like Kellogg and INSEAD, you can utilize Yale’s Video question practice tool to get familiarised with the technology.

MIT Sloan Video Essay

As a part of the MIT Sloan application , you must submit a video statement along with other documents. Unlike the other schools, where you record the video in the admission portal, in MIT Sloan video statement, you can record and upload the video at your convenience on their portal.

The video prompt is – ‘Introduce yourself to your future classmates’. The video statement must be a single take (no editing) with a duration of fewer than 60 seconds. The admission committee recommends delivering a response that includes a bit on your experience and why you chose MIT Sloan to pursue your MBA. Upload instructions are provided with the application.

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How to prepare for video essays?

How to prepare for video essay?

Video essays allow MBA admissions to evaluate your confidence, language skills, and capability to think on your feet. A video essay is one opportunity you can leverage to leave a long-lasting effect upon the admissions committee. The following are the top 5 tips that will help you create a better video essay for your MBA application.

Create Question banks and Scripts

Many applicants wobble when they hear ‘you have to think on your feet while facing video questions’. However, you will not feel like you’re being thrown under a bus when you see a question prompt on the screen if you create and a question bank and use a framework for your responses.

Identify personal and professional stories: You will get many practice questions from your target school’s website. You can find a part of questions school asks on the application instruction. A few business schools also mention the category under which the random question will fall into.

Many of the video essay questions fall under the why MBA/career goals, or behavioral type questions. Based on the category, you should create a repository of personal/career experiences and jot down your answers around it. When you get the opportunity, talk about why that B-School is an excellent match for your career ambition. Talk about your exact goals and how you will accomplish them through this specific program.

Learn to answer succinctly : Most of the schools ask applicants to think and answer the questions in less a minute. Try to answer questions in Situation, Action, Result (SAR) method. Answer the essay questions by using one of your personal or professional examples of a situation that you were in; the action that you took; and the result. Approaching questions in the SAR method will help you to answer concisely.

Choose words wisely : One key aspect of communication is vocabulary. You should keep your vocabulary on a professional level and choose words carefully. Avoid the usage of colloquial words, and although you are required to be formal, you should avoid the frivolous use of formality in the video essay.

Tip #2 – Create a set-up for video recording

While preparing your set-up for your video essay recording, make sure to follow the given instructions.

Choose quite and well-lit area : Make sure you choose a space where there is enough light on your face and no background noise. You should have any noise distractions while recording the video. If possible, ask a friend or family member to surveillance the area to avoid any voice distraction while you take the interview.

Recording accessories : Even though most of the schools don’t mention about the video output, it is advisable to use good quality webcam and microphone for recording your video essay. If you feel your laptop webcam output is substandard, connect an external webcam to record the video. When you choose the microphone, make sure your voice is audible properly. You must record a sample video and test the quality of the video, audio output, and the lighting.

Make sure your devices don’t take away your attention : Before starting the interview, make sure your mobile phone is on Do not disturb mode and close all unnecessary computer applications and browser tabs.

Chose plain background : While recording, it is advisable to choose a single color background. If there are too many elements behind you, the viewer may lose focus away from your presentation.

Keep a notepad and pen handy : In most of the essay questions, you will get less one minute to structure your thought before delivering the answer. You may need to keep a notepad and a pen ready in the table to jot down the main points and supporting examples you want to deliver while answering.

Tip #3 – Practice makes perfect

Practice well

Once you have the question bank, learned how to respond in a crisp & clear manner, and set up your recording area, it is now time to practice and perfect your responses.

Using a camera, film yourself giving the response to the questions you have on your list. Filming the responses will help to introspect the style in which you respond. Start evaluating the video after at least a few hours have passed. While evaluating, make sure you are not saying fillers like “like..” and “umm…”. Hemming and hawing create the impression of being unprepared.

Check your posture and facial expressions while answering the questions. If you are not satisfied with the first take, do retakes, till you get the desired output. Send your final production to people you trust for critique. It is the best way to figure out what kind of judgments a person will make while evaluating your video essay.

Another way to practice is to get the help of a friend and replicate the video essay set-up at your home. Provide your question bank to your friend and connect for a video call through applications like Skype with your friend. Make sure he/she switches off the video. This mock video essay activity is an excellent exercise for you to get rid of camera shyness and improve your confidence.

Some B-Schools have portals where an applicant can practice video essay questions before starting the official attempt of essay questions. Using this portal is the best way to get a hold on the type of questions asked and get familiarised with B-School’s video essay recording platform.

During your final recording, you may get a situational question, choose whether one of your stories can help you answer the question. Also, be ready to think swiftly because some questions are genuinely random. The best response is to be authentic, so be yourself and don’t overthink things. While practicing with your friend, you can instruct him to ask a question that is out of your question bank to get used to such random questions.

Tip #4 – Present yourself well

Present yourself well

Dress Professionally : The video essay is a professional video, and it is considered as a ‘pre-interview’ communication with the Admissions Committee. Because of the same reason, it is important to dress professionally.

Avoid excess motion : The video should be conversational like a speech. So, you should avoid excessive gesturing and movement throughout the recording of your video essay.

Speak Clearly with proper enunciation :  Make sure you do not narrate the whole essay expressionlessly. You should take enough pauses in between to emphasize your words and thoughts to encourage the admissions committee to accept you as a serious applicant. You must deliver the response in a fluid tone and pitch that carries your conviction and passion.

Mind your body language : It is a vital aspect to pay attention to during your video essay. You should keep in mind to sit straight throughout the recording. The best way to identify issues with your body language is by filming yourself, giving the response to some of the questions in your list, and analyzing them. Practicing while correcting such errors will remove nervousness and nervous ticks before sitting down for the final take.

Position the camera : Make sure you do not lean forward or put your head down to face the camera. Position the webcam to your eye level to deliver the answer with your head straight. Always make sure you look into the camera while responding.

Using a camera, film yourself responding to a few questions on your list. Evaluate your background, lighting, and outfit to make sure they look good.

Don’t get tensed

You aced the GMAT, curated an impressive resume, got your letters of recommendation, filled out your entire application, and checked it thrice. You crossed all the hard checkpoints. For video essay, it is just one mantra – be your best self. When it’s showtime, let yourself relax and enjoy the experience. As you respond to the questions to the questions, don’t forget to smile.

Avoid these MBA application mistakes and make it to your dream business school.

Key Takeaways | How to Prepare for MBA Video Essays

  • Video Essays are an opportunity for the admission committee to evaluate your interpersonal skills and determine your ‘fit’ for an MBA program.
  • Video essay questions can be related to your personal and career experience, your post-MBA goals, and Why MBA?
  • Prepare for your Video Essays by creating a framework and identifying stories from your personal and professional life that relate to the above topics.
  • Many business schools offer the option to practice video essays and familiarise yourself with the process. Take advantage of this opportunity.

An increasing number of B-Schools have started to integrate video essays into their MBA applications. In a video essay, you are not expected to be scripted. You are expected to be prepared. The admission committee hopes applicants who are not great on paper will have a chance to shine and exhibit their personality that is not seen elsewhere in a traditional application. With structured preparation, you can make an outstanding video essay without it getting on your nerves.

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MBA Video Essay Samples

Featured Expert: Aali Malik, MBA

MBA Video Essay

Are you curious about the MBA video interview questions/MBA video essay? You're not the only one. This relatively new application component has become a part of the admissions process for several top business schools, including some  Ivy League schools  like Yale University's school of management and other prestigious institutions like MIT . MBA video interviews or essays can be challenging for applicants, mainly because most applicants are unsure how to prepare for them. Much like with other interview formats and essays, the key to success is practice! In this blog, we will share some common MBA video essay prompts so that you have some questions to practice with, and we will also provide some sample answers to those questions to help you prepare.

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Article Contents 6 min read

What are mba video interview questions/video essays.

MBA video interviews and MBA video essays are short, self-recorded videos where candidates answer questions given by the admission committee in a video instead of writing. This application component has simply been added to the admission process of some business schools; it does not replace any other written MBA admission essay or the final interview for admission. 

It's also important to note that because this concept is relatively new in the MBA application process, business schools refer to it by different names. For example, Kellogg Business School and London Business School both call it a video essay, while INSEAD refers to it as Video Interview, and MIT refers to it as a Video Statement. Ultimately, these are all the same thing. The only thing that may vary is the format of the video essay. 

There are two main types of MBA video essays:

This format asks candidates to record a short video answering a specific question or prompt given by the admission committee. The timeframe and questions or topics are usually provided beforehand, thus giving you more time to think through your answers and ensure that your video essay is of the best quality. ","label":"Pre-recorded video essays","title":"Pre-recorded video essays"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

Kellogg Business School

Kellogg business school  is one of the pioneers of the MBA video essay. This component was added to their already thorough application process in 2013 and is here to stay. Kellogg no longer publishes their admission statistics, but in previous years, the acceptance rate was roughly 20%, making it one of the most selective business schools in the world. To apply to Kellogg’s MBA programs, applicants must submit two written  MBA admission essays , and answer 3 MBA video essay questions.

Kellogg Business School's acceptance rate

The Kellogg MBA video essay comprises three essay prompts. Applicants have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer each question. The first two questions are predefined, and the third question is usually randomized. It should be noted that this is subject to change. For example, not too long ago, the admissions committee was specifically asking students about their experience with COVID as a third question instead of using a random prompt. So, it is always best to verify the school’s website for the most up-to-date information.

My name is Angela Faye, and I am a corporate lawyer from New York City. I was born in Normandy, France, but I moved to the United States at the age of eighteen to attend university. I quickly fell in love with the melting pot of cultures found in New York and the different aspects of American culture. So, I decided to stay and make a life for myself here. I am a wife and mother to two beautiful children who look up to me and for whom I'd like to set a good example by doing what it takes to accomplish my goals. One of those goals is to open a law firm of my own, and I believe that the next step for me on my journey to making that happen is to gain more knowledge and experience in business administration and management. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab2" template="BlogArticle">

I aim to own and operate an affordable, sustainable clothing brand that caters to women of all sizes and body types. I have been working towards this goal for the past five years. I own a personal shopping business, and I have noticed how limited the options are for ethically made clothes, especially for women with different body shapes. In the past five years, I have taken the time to research and learn about the logistics of the clothing industry, study the market and begin gathering funds for this project. The next step for me is to gain even more knowledge about what it takes to successfully and ethically run a business while networking with some of the best business minds in the world. Based on my research, the best place for me to do that is at Kellogg business school. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab3" template="BlogArticle">

This is the power that the main character of the sci-fi show Heroes possesses. This power allows you to learn and replicate the abilities of those in close proximity to you. This means that you would be able to learn a wide array of abilities, including flight, invisibility, and anything else that exists. To succeed, you need to be prepared and have multiple tools at your disposal. This superpower definitely gives you that. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab4" template="BlogArticle">

Be sure to read some Kellogg MBA essay examples for inspiration! Here are a 10 additional common Kellogg MBA video essay questions that you can use to practice:

  • What piece of technology could you not live without and why?
  • Who do you approach when you have a problem for advice and why?
  • What accomplishment are you really proud of?
  • What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
  • If you were given a chance to meet anyone, current or historical, who would you meet and why?
  • What was the most interesting class you took at university? 
  • How have you changed in the last five years?
  • What risk have you taken, and what did you learn?
  • What impact do you have on your co-workers?
  • What inspires you?

The  University of Toronto  is not only one of the best  universities of Ontario , but it attracts candidates from all over the world yearly. So it is not surprising that Rotman school of management is an increasingly popular choice for MBA hopefuls. To get into Rotman, you need to ace the MBA video interview/MBA admission essay. 

The university uses the  Kira talent  platform, which uses both video and text. Applicants will answer two different questions on video and one question in writing. For the video portion of this MBA video interview, candidates will hear the question, have 30 seconds to think, and then 90 seconds to answer. The questions used during the interview will vary, but we looked at a few past prompts so that we can share sample answers and questions for you to practice with.

I decided to cut back on my hours at the tutoring center, and I enlisted the help of a different student so that I could delegate some tasks and have more time to study. That experience taught me a lot about time management. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab5" template="BlogArticle">

I would much rather be good and on time than perfect and late. Nothing is perfect. We can try to get as close to perfect as possible, but there comes the point where chasing perfection becomes a waste of time, and time is far too valuable to be wasted. If something is good and on time, then it will stand out, and you may even have a chance to improve on it and \"perfect\" it while it is already operational. For example, recently, I was assigned to design the logo for a new client, and when the deadline came, I found that the product was not perfect. I wanted to fix it up a little more, but I realized that it would be best to give my clients something good on time and get their feedback so that we can work together to perfect it. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab6" template="BlogArticle">

Here are a 10 additional MBA video essay questions from Rotman that you can use to practice:

  • Who is your mentor outside your family, and why?
  • Apart from money, what else would keep you in your current organization?
  • What is one good habit, and what is one bad habit of yours?
  • If you had to delete all apps but three from my phone, which ones would I keep and why?
  • If you got a chance, what subject would you teach?
  • Out of the four seasons, which do you like the most and why?
  • What is one good habit and one bad habit that you have?
  • If you had no financial downsides from quitting your job, what job would you prefer to be doing?
  • Which of the following aspects of your life are you most in touch with: emotional, spiritual, or physical?
  • If you could have anyone over for dinner, who would it be?

Yale University  is an Ivy League institution with a worldwide reputation and a highly selective admissions process. The video interview component for Yale School of Management uses a set of randomized, previously recorded questions. This means that applicants will likely not have the same set of questions in one interview cycle. The school's website states that the questions asked are similar to typical interview questions. In other words, while the video essay may not have "trick questions," it will have some tricky ones. One tip we can give you is to  prepare for your MBA interview  early. This will not only improve your chances of doing well during your MBA interview, but it will also help you with your performance on this MBA video essay component. 

Yale video essay comprises three questions. Applicants will have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer the first two questions. For the third question, applicants will have 30 seconds of preparation time and 90 seconds to answer. Let's take a look at some of the prompts that have been used for Yale MBA video essays in the past:

I have wanted to pursue a Master's in Business Administration for a few years now, but I needed to accomplish a few things before embarking on this journey. First, I needed to get a few years of practical experience after spending most of my undergraduate years learning business theories. Secondly, I wanted enough savings to cover most of the tuition fees and expenses. I plan on giving my studies my full attention for the next two years, and I find that the best way to do that is to pace yourself and remove as many distractions as possible. Having enough money to ensure that my tuition is paid gives me more choices and allows me to focus on that instead of anything else. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab7" template="BlogArticle">

As a business owner, I often find myself in a position where I have to make difficult decisions or handle challenging situations. Recently, I had to decide whether it was time to let go of our office building and become a fully remote company or for a hybrid model for my employees. Everyone, from the senior management staff to the part-workers, had a different opinion. In the end, even though I listened to what they had to say, I had to compare what they were saying to what the numbers showed. Our statistics showed that most of the team was actually performing better from home and that we would save considerable money if we kept working online and spent some money on communication networks that would allow us to communicate better as a team. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab8" template="BlogArticle">

\"Without Arts, an education can not be accomplished.\" I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. People learn in different ways, and many of those ways include various pieces of art. For example, I am a visual learner. So Whenever a presentation, poster, or textbook includes images, I tend to remember it better. Furthermore, because artists and the world of arts, in general, are a big part of our culture, one cannot claim to be educated about the world without at least understanding some of it. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab9" template="BlogArticle">

Here are a 10 additional Yale SOM MBA video essay questions that you can use to practice:

  • What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
  • Tell us about a creative solution you designed
  • Please respond to the following statement: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Do you agree or disagree? why?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the notion that the chief executive's first priority should be a profit for shareholders?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Tell us about a shortcut you and a team could have taken, but decided not to
  • If we asked your colleagues about your weaknesses and strengths, what would they say ?
  • How will you resolve a conflict with your future classmates at the program?
  • Tell us about a difficult decision and how you handled it?
  • "The People who we remember most are the people who break the rules." Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

MBA video essays should not be underestimated. While the questions and format used by the business schools are not designed to trick you, they are definitely intended to challenge you. This means that it gives you a chance to rise to the challenge and the admissions committee a chance to find out which candidates took the time to research and prepare for this application component. If you're reading this blog, then you have already taken a step in the right direction by looking at common video essay prompts and sample answers. To prepare further, we recommend using the questions we listed to practice. Remember that these video essays are timed, so familiarize yourself with the time limits by using a timer while practicing. You should also take the time to set up and test your equipment before your interview, to make sure it is stable and that your background is appropriate. If you truly want to maximize your chances of success, you should consider working with an  MBA essay consultant  or participating in  MBA mock interviews. 

The level of competition will depend on the specific school you're applying to, but MBA programs are generally quite selective.

This is a relatively new application component used by a few business schools. Essentially, they are short videos during which candidates answer essay questions given by the admission committee.

The admission committee typically provides questions or prompts for your video essay. You should verify the admissions information of the school you are applying to, as some schools make the questions to the video essay available in advance.

No, not all of them do. Video essays and Video interviews are still a relatively new practice. They are only used by a few business schools in the world, but the practice is rising in popularity, so it is best to be prepared.

There are a few schools around the globe that require MBA video essays, including Yale, Kellogg, MIT, Rotman, London Business School, INSEAD, etc.

Yes. Most business schools ask for both written essays and video essays. Some schools also include a written essay in their MBA video interview process, like Rotman, for example.

The video essay serves a similar purpose as the  MBA personal statement  or  MBA diversity essay . If you meet the standards set by the admission committee, you may still get called for an in-person or virtual interview.

You can prepare by planning or structuring your answers in advance, timing yourself when you rehearse, participating in mock interviews, and investing in  MBA admissions consulting.

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mba application video essay

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  • MBA Admissions
  • ISB Admissions
  • MBA Application Tips
  • MBA Essay Tips
  • Business Schools

Video Essays for MBA Admissions: 15 Expert Tips to Create an Impressive Essay

Admit expert.

  • September 18, 2023

In this day and age, video is everywhere. We watch videos on our phones, computers, and televisions. It’s no surprise that business schools are asking applicants to submit video essays as part of their application process. Why? Because video is a powerful medium that can be used to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, including non-verbal communication which is usually not possible in the case of a written essay.

How to create video essay for MBA admissions

In this blog post, we will discuss what video essays are, why they matter, and how to create one that will impress the admissions committee.

What are video essays?

Why do business schools require video essays, record and submit the video on the business school’s platform, record offline and submit the video, tips for creating an outstanding video essay for mba admissions.

A video essay is a short (usually one to two minutes long) video that applicants are asked to submit as part of their MBA application.

The purpose of the video essay is to give the admissions committee a chance to get to know the applicant on a personal level and learn more about their motivation for pursuing an MBA.

It also gives the admissions committee a chance to evaluate the non-verbal aspects as well as the verbal communication skills of the candidate, which hitherto was only possible to evaluate in an interview.

Business schools included video essays in the MBA application because they wanted more genuine responses from applicants, without the direct involvement of admissions consultants or other professionals. The admission committees of Rotman, Kellogg, and INSEAD have responded to why business schools require Video Essays as part of their application process.

According to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which pioneered the video essay as part of the application process, the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different aptitudes and competencies in the admissions process.

“The video essay provides students with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community — in an interactive way,” says the Kellogg MBA Admissions committee.

According to the Admissions Committee at INSEAD, the video should provide students with a unique opportunity to share their passions, motivations, and who they are. The Admissions Committee is looking for an authentic view of the applicant as a person, to see how a student thinks on their feet and communicates ideas.

Typically, the school will provide one or more questions and some time to think about them (around 30 – 60 seconds per question), after which the student is expected to provide a recorded answer to the school.

Types of MBA Video Essays

As part of the MBA application, applicants may be asked to submit two types of videos.

Following application submission, the school will send an e-mail with a link to record the video on an online platform. Applicants should use their personal computers to record their responses to specific questions. You may be asked one of two types of questions:

Specific questions from the school’s application instructions: In such cases, you will have the opportunity to prepare for the question ahead of time. The question can range from inquiring about your career to introducing yourself to the admissions committee.

Random Questions: Each student will be asked a random question by the school. You will be given a time limit in which to think about and respond to the questions. You should prepare some personal situational stories that are relevant to various topics.

Schools such as MIT Sloan require applicants to submit a video statement on the topic specified in the application instructions. The majority of the school prefers single-take (no editing) videos that are no longer than one minute long.

Some business schools do not compulsorily require a video essay as part of the application process. However, as a best practice, you should ideally try to complete an optional video essay. If you are given the option of submitting a video essay as part of your application, you should do so. The optional video essay allows you to showcase your personality as well as your motivation to pursue an MBA program.

Business School Specific Video essays

The adcom has read your essays and resumes, and now they want you to put it all together in a video . Show them who is behind all of those carefully crafted words. The video will include three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that led you here today.

Here are some things to think about as you prepare to finish this section:

  • Video essays must be submitted 96 hours after the deadline.
  • After you submit your application and payment, a link to your video essay will appear on your application status page.
  • An internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone is required.
  • The video should take about 20-25 minutes to complete, including setup time.

Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

– Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you? What leadership qualities, personality traits, and accomplishments have you displayed in your personal and professional life that define you as the person you are?

Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

– This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you want to pursue it from Kellogg? You have to 

  • Give a brief overview of your current experience, skills, and qualities 
  • Mention your post MBA short term, medium-term and long-term career goals which should be aligned with your experience, skills, and qualities 
  • Mention specific courses, clubs, competitions, placements, etc., or any other thing unique to Kellog that would help you achieve your post MBA career goals.

Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Here, Kellog ad-com wants to get deeper insights into the personality traits and leadership qualities you have that will help you become a future leader. Hence, you should mention the challenge, how you overcame the challenge, what are the leadership qualities that helped you navigate the challenge, and finally what you learned and how you implemented the learning in another situation where you created a significant impact, which should be quantified if possible. 

Kellogg adcom tips

  • There are practice questions that you can answer as many times as you want to become acquainted with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience are intended to simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is a useful tool to help you feel prepared.
  • We encourage you to practice so that you are familiar with the format when it comes time to answer the official questions. You will not be able to redo your answers to the official video essay questions.

You will have 20 seconds to consider the question and up to one minute to respond.

Do you want to impress the MBA Adcom with your video essay?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too. Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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After completing your online application, the admissions committee will send you an email with a unique link to complete the video essay sectio n. Each applicant will be asked to record their responses to four questions. The questions could be about your interest in INSEAD, teamwork, diversity, culture, or anything else. You will have 45 seconds to prepare each answer and 1 minute to record your answer after getting the question.

Before recording your answers, you can practice on the INSEAD online platform. There will be several questions available during the practice session, and you can practice as many as you need to feel comfortable. You can make an account on the internet platform and return at any time, with no limit on how many practice sessions you can do.

Advice from INSEAD’s adcom

  • We recommend recording your Kira videos with Microsoft Edge or Chrome for the best user experience.
  • You can practice as much as you want to prepare yourself. This will allow you to give sincere and authentic responses. The Admissions Committee is not informed about the practice questions.
  • Test your camera and microphone, then look at the camera as if you were speaking to the Admissions Committee.
  • Despite the fact that we require you to dress professionally or in business casual attire, the Admissions Committee will not pass judgement on your appearance or background.
  • You might wish to keep a notebook nearby to jot down your main points. You’ll have 45 seconds to prepare each response, followed by 60 seconds to share your response.

After submitting your application and paying your application fee, you will be given access to the video questions . The video questions are not a replacement for the interview; rather, they are part of your MBA application.

Every candidate will be given a set of randomized, previously recorded questions asked by a member of the admissions team. No two applicants will be asked the same questions.

Yale SOM tips

Kristen Mercuri, Deputy Director of Admissions, shares a few tips with applicants:

  • First, know you’re going to be great! This is not a deal-breaker or maker. It doesn’t require any preparation beyond the practice tool you can access before you start your recordings. Don’t stress; we aim to set you up for success. 
  • One piece of advice for the recorded responses is to familiarize yourself with the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed in your answer, and you also don’t want to only utilize 10 seconds. 
  • And finally, be sure you have a good internet connection and a quiet, private space. You’d be surprised how many ‘bloopers’ we see in the video questions due to an unexpected colleague, partner, or pet joining your session.

You must submit a video statement along with other documents as part of your MIT Sloan application. Unlike other schools, where you record the video in the admission portal, you can record and upload the video at your leisure on the MIT Sloan video statement portal.

The prompt is as follows:

Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, and be yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!

Videos should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No more than 60 seconds in length
  • Single take (no editing) 
  • Speaking directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

MBA video essays are a great way to showcase your personality and MBA video essay tips can help you put your best foot forward. Here are the top 15 MBA video essay tips:

  • Be natural and be yourself. The MBA video essay is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you on a personal level, so it is important to be genuine and authentic in your responses. Don’t try to memorize answers or regurgitate information from your resume; instead, focus on sharing stories and experiences that will give the admissions committee insight into who you are as a person. Writing pointers and then expanding them naturally while speaking would be a better technique than writing the entire answer and reading it verbally.
  • Keep it short and sweet. The MBA video essay is not the time to give a long-winded speech; instead, focus on delivering a few key points in a clear and concise manner. The admissions committee wants to see that you can communicate effectively and efficiently, so don’t try to cram too much information into your MBA video essay.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Before hitting “record,” take some time to practice your MBA video essay so that you feel comfortable and confident on camera. Record a few practice takes so that you can get used to the format and format of the questions
  • Highlight your accomplishments: Share your successes and experiences that have helped shape who you are today. This is your chance to shine and show the admissions committee what you’re capable of.
  • Tell a story: A well-told story will capture the attention of the admissions committee and give them a glimpse into who you are as a person. Share a personal experience or an anecdote that highlights your unique personality and perspective.
  • Choose a quiet and well-lit location: Make sure you choose a location with enough light on your face and no background noise. There should be no background noise while recording the video. If at all possible, ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on the area while you conduct the interview.
  • Recording accessories: Although most schools do not specify video output, it is recommended that you use a high-quality webcam and microphone when recording your video essay. If you believe your laptop’s webcam output is inadequate, use an external webcam to record the video. When selecting a microphone, ensure that your voice is clearly audible. You must record a sample video and evaluate its quality.
  • Choose a simple background: When recording, it is best to use a single colour background. If there are too many elements behind you, the viewer’s attention will be diverted away from your presentation.
  • Keep a notepad and a pen handy: Most essay questions will give you less than one minute to structure your thoughts before delivering your answer. Keep a notepad and a pen at the table to jot down the main points and supporting examples you want to deliver while answering.
  • Dress for Success: The video essay is a professional video that serves as a “pre-interview” communication with the Admissions Committee. Dressing professionally is also important for the same reason.
  • Avoid excessive movement: The video should be conversational, similar to a speech. As a result, you should avoid excessive gesturing and movement while recording your video essay.
  • Speak clearly and with proper enunciation: Do not narrate the entire essay expressionlessly. Take enough pauses between sentences to emphasize your words and thoughts and persuade the admissions committee that you are a serious applicant. You must respond with a fluid tone and pitch that conveys your conviction and passion. Try practicing voice modulation which will prevent your speech from becoming monotonous and boring.
  • Body language: It is an important aspect to consider during your video essay. Remember to sit up straight throughout the recording. The best way to identify issues with your body language is to film yourself answering some of the questions on your list and analyzing the results. Before sitting down for the final take, practice while correcting such errors to remove nervousness and nervous ticks.
  • Position the camera: Avoid leaning forward or lowering your head to face the camera. Position the webcam at eye level so that you can answer with your head straight. When responding, always keep your gaze fixed on the camera. Film yourself answering a few of the questions on your list with a camera. Make sure your background, lighting, and outfit all look good.
  • Smile for the camera: You aced the GMAT, crafted an impressive resume, obtained letters of recommendation, completed your entire application, and double-checked it. You completed all of the difficult checkpoints. There is only one mantra for video essays: be your best self. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. Keep a smile on your face as you respond to the questions.

By following these tips, you can create a strong video essay that will help you stand out from the rest of the applicants and improve your chances of being admitted to your dream business school.

If you’re looking for more help with your MBA application, be sure to check out our other blog posts on the topic. We cover everything from how to choose the right business school to what kind of experience you need to have in order to get admitted.

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mba application video essay

December 12, 2022

How to Make a Stand-Out MBA Application Video

How to make a stand out MBA application video

Presenting yourself effectively on video has become an essential part of the MBA application process. Admissions officers expect you to be able to capture their attention on the small screen. It’s an opportunity for them to see you think on your feet and speak ‘unscripted.’

What MBA programs want to see

  • Kellogg says their optional video essay is an opportunity for you “to showcase your personality.”
  • INSEAD sees the video essay as a method for you to “share your passions, your motivations and who you truly are.”
  • Yale says the video questions “provide a unique way for us to assess your communication skills” and to view a candidate’s “multi-dimensional” profile. 

These are just a few of several schools that also include a video component in the application. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all schools allow candidates to select a video interview. Video essays are required or optional among top schools like Kellogg, INSEAD, Yale, MIT, Rotman, and more.

For these schools (and for the rest of your career), your ability to command attention on a video format will become an integral part of your success – and could hold even more weight than the interview!

Types of MBA video essays

Research each program’s application requirements to understand what you should expect when you sit down to record your video essay.

For the most part, schools will provide you with a link to a web-based platform where you can record your video using the webcam on your laptop or smartphone. 

Video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline. 

A video essay link will appear on your application status page after you submit your application and payment and take you to the Kira platform. 

You receive three questions, one at a time. You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response.

INSEAD also uses the Kira platform. 

You will receive four questions that come one at a time. 

After each question, you will have 45 seconds to prepare and 1 minute to respond. You cannot redo your answer. It must be recorded in one take. 

(See here for requirements for Yale , Rotman )

MIT Sloan is an exception.

You get to prepare and deliver a video statement to introduce yourself to your future classmates. It must conform to the following criteria:

  • No more than 1 minute (60 seconds) in length
  • Single take (no editing)
  • Speak directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

How to prepare for your MBA video essay

While the prospect of a single-take video essay may be alarming, don’t worry, here are some suggestions to make sure you’re confident and prepared ! They are also useful if it’s not a one-take video.

  • Check the details Before you start, read over any provided materials from your school. Know the deadline for when your video response must be completed, what program you’re applying to, and if they have any special requests. Many programs even have admissions blog posts about what they’re looking for to help you strategize the key points you want to strike in your response. This may sound redundant, but if you have multiple schools requiring video essays, knowing exactly what each program expects is very important.
  • Set the scene for your video essay Find a well-lit setting and turn on your webcam and adjust your location to ensure you have a clear backdrop behind you. Windows, mirrors, or cluttered walls or shelves are best avoided if possible. Adjust your lighting and position to find an arrangement that shines light on your face, rather than backlighting you.  There’s no set uniform for video essays, but I recommend comfortable, clean, business casual attire. Play it safe with solid colors and comfortable materials so the viewer can focus on the content of your responses. Once you’ve established your environment, let anyone whom you share a household or office with know not to disturb you. Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door if you must!
  • Prepare your device Picture this: You’re in the middle of your response and a pesky pop-up notification appears on your screen and creates a distraction. Or better yet, you ignore the notification and your computer restarts before you’ve completed all of the questions!  So before you start recording, close any programs that might prompt you with push notifications or pop-ups and ensure your software is up-to-date. Check to see if you have at least an hour of battery life or, better yet, plug into a power source.
  • “Tell us about yourself.”
  • “Why do you want to attend our program?”
  • “Describe one of your favorite hobbies and why it is important to you?”
  • Notetaking During the time you have to prep your answer, it can be helpful to draw simple pictures on your notepad that symbolize what you want to say, rather than words. That can help guide you and are ‘stickier’ in your brain. Then put the notepad to the side, AND DO NOT LOOK AT IT while you respond. You need to look directly at the camera.
  • Keep calm and crush this video Get a glass of water. Remember to pause and catch your breath. Do a stretch. Listen to your cheesiest pump up song ( Eye of the Tiger , anyone?) Whatever you need to do to get in the zone. Remember to take your time with your response, be yourself, and speak from the heart, and you’ll do great.

If you would like help with your video essay, Accepted’s experienced  MBA admissions experts , who have been prepping and critiquing MBA applicants for almost twenty years, are more than  happy to help you .

Michelle Stockman Admissions Expert

Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.  Want Michelle to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Molly McCracken

Molly McCracken is a Career Advisor & Internship Facilitator at Western University, previously an admissions editor & higher ed consultant at  Kira Talent , an education technology company that builds holistic admissions solutions in Toronto, Canada.

MBA Interview Prep: How to Ace Your Interviews

Related resources:

  • Preparing to Ace Your MBA Interview , a free guide
  • Seven Tips for MBA Interview Prep
  • Preparing for Your MBA Interview Questions

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  • Video Essay for MBA Admissions – Tips that work
  • MBA Admissions

Have you ever wondered what questions are asked in an MBA video interview or what an MBA video essay looks like? If you haven’t, that’s okay; you’re not alone. Numerous leading business schools, including Yale School of Management and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, use this application component. MBA video essays can be hard for applicants, mostly because of the impromptu nature that they have where you may have just a few seconds to prepare a response to a prompt you receive. The key to success in this interview format, as in other interview formats and essays, is practice!

mba application video essay

What are video essays, why do they matter, and how can I create a video essay that will create a positive impact in the minds of admissions officers? We will answer these questions and more in this blog post.

Why do video essays exist?

What are mba video interview questions / video essays, types of mba video essays, kellogg school of management, rotman school of management, london business school, 11 mba video essay tips that work, final thoughts.

Video is all around us these days. We watch videos on our smartphones, computers, and TVs. It’s hardly shocking that many MBA programs need video essays as part of the application. Why? Because video can transmit a lot of information quickly, including nonverbal communication that just isn’t possible in a written essay.

According to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which was the first to use video essays as part of the application process, the video essay lets the admissions team look for different skills and abilities as part of the evaluation process.

INSEAD’s admissions committee says that the video essay gives students a unique chance to talk about what they love, what drives them, and who they are. The Admissions Committee wants to get a true picture of the applicant as a person. They want to know how a student thinks on his or her feet and how he or she communicates ideas.

Both the MBA video interview and the MBA video essay are brief, self-recorded, or platform-recorded videos in which applicants respond to questions posed by the admissions committee via video rather than in written form. Some business schools have only recently added this criterion to their application process. It’s important to note that video essays don’t replace the written MBA admission essay or the final interview for admission.

It’s also important to know that business schools have different names for this essay because it’s new to the MBA application process. Kellogg and London Business School both call it a video essay, while INSEAD and MIT call it a video interview and a video statement, respectively. Every business school has certain unique nuances to video essays.

So, what types of video essays exist? Let’s find out.

There are two types of video essays asked:

  • Impromptu video Essays

Pre-recorded video essays

Impromptu video essays.

In this approach, applicants answer interview questions and record a video on the spot. Candidates generally have 30 to 60 seconds to prepare replies and 60 to 90 seconds to record video essays. The time limit may vary from school to school, but the format essentially remains the same, depending on the school’s admissions policies. In this setting, applicants are not given a second chance to answer questions, therefore it’s important to be well-prepared.

In this format, candidates are asked to record a short video answering a specific question or prompt from the admissions committee. The time limit and questions or topics are usually given to you ahead of time, giving you more time to think about your answers and make sure your video essay is the best it can be.

So, which business schools ask for a video essay, and what are their specific guidelines? Let’s understand these in the next section.

Do you want to get into top business schools?

At Crack The MBA, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too. Get in touch with us to learn more about our MBA application services.

MBA Video Essay Questions of Business Schools

To apply to Kellogg’s MBA programs, applicants must send in one program-specific essay, two written MBA admission essays, and answers to three MBA video essays. There are three essay prompts as part of Kellogg’s MBA video essay evaluation process. Applicants have 20 seconds to think about the response to each question and 60 seconds to answer it. The first two questions are set, but the third one is usually chosen at random.

The video essay evaluation process has three questions, each of which is meant to help you show who you are and talk about some of the things that led you to where you are now.

As you get ready to finish this section, here are some things to think about:

  • Video essays have to be turned in 96 hours after application submission.
  • After you send in your application and payment, you will see a link to your video essay on the page that shows the status of your application.
  • You need a computer that can connect to the internet and has a webcam and a microphone.
  • Including the time it takes to set up, making the video should take between 20 and 25 minutes. (This does not include preparation time)

Video essay 1: Please tell the people in charge of admissions about yourself.

Think of this as your chance to tell Kellogg’s admissions committee what you want them to know about you. What makes you, you? To what extent do your personal and professional experiences demonstrate your leadership potential, character traits, and other distinguishing characteristics?

Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

This question was designed to be quite open-ended so that you may respond in a straightforward and relevant way. Kellogg’s admissions committee wants to know why you want to get an MBA and why you want it from Kellogg. To answer this question well, you must:

  • Mention your short-term and long-term career goals after getting your MBA. 
  • Mention certain Kellogg offerings such as classes, clubs, competitions, student names, professors, etc., as well as anything else that is exclusive to Kellogg and could assist you in achieving your post-MBA career goals.

Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Kellogg’s admissions committee wants to learn more about your leadership and personality traits. Ideally, we recommend using the STAR framework to frame your response. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. So, you should talk about the challenge, how you overcame it, and what actions helped you overcome the obstacle. You should also talk about what you learned and how you created a big impact, which you should try to quantify if you can.

Tips from Kellogg’s Admissions Committee

Kellogg’s admissions committee has also shared a few tips to help applicants navigate the video essay section. Here is what they recommend:

  • You can answer practice questions as often as you want to get used to the format and technology. The practice questions and experience are meant to be like the real video essay, so this is a good way to help you feel ready.
  • They strongly recommend you practice so that when it’s time to answer the real questions, you already know how they are set up. This is important because the answers you give in the actual video essay questions cannot be changed.

Here is how the Rotman MBA video essay works. After submitting your application, a company called Kira Talent will send you an email. This email will have a link that gives you access to the video essay platform. Two questions will be asked aloud, one at a time, after you have logged in and begun the session. You will have 30 seconds to think about each question and 90 seconds to answer it. You can’t redo the question, and you only get one chance to answer.

Then, one written question will be sent to you. You’ll be given a question and given 10 minutes to answer it. You should write between 250 and 500 words. The question for the written answer is meant to find out how you would write in a business or school setting.

Questions are chosen at random.

No matter when you send in your application, you need to send in your response to the video essay within two weeks. This can happen no later than two weeks after your target round’s deadline. But you should try to send in the video essay as soon as possible since your application won’t be looked at until the video essay is done.

As part of your application to MIT Sloan, you must send in a video statement along with other documents. Once you have recorded the video you can upload it on the MIT Sloan video statement portal, which is different from how the video essay works at other schools.

Here’s the MIT Sloan video essay prompt: Introduce yourself to your future classmates

Here’s your chance to put a face to a name, show who you are, talk to people, and just be yourself.

Videos should follow these guidelines:

  • No more than one minute (60 seconds)
  • Single take (no editing)
  • Speaking directly into the camera.
  • Don’t add background music or captions.

After you send in your application and pay the fee, you’ll be able to see the video essay questions . The video questions are part of your MBA application, not a replacement for the interview.

A member of the admissions team will ask each candidate a set of random questions that have already been recorded.

The Deputy Director of Admissions, Kristen Mercuri, gives applicants a few tips:

  • Video essays are not a deal-breaker or deal-maker. You can rehearse with the available tool before beginning your recordings, but other than that, no prior preparation is necessary.
  • For the recorded responses, one piece of advice is to get used to the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed or like you only have 10 seconds to say something.
  • Lastly, make sure you have a good internet connection and a private, quiet place to work. 

After you send in your application and are chosen for an interview, the LBS admissions team will send you an email. This email will have a link that lets you get to the platform for video essays. What sets apart LBS’s video essays from many others is that, for LBS, you share it after you are invited for the interview.

After you sign in and start the session, you’ll be asked two questions, one at a time. You’ll have 40 seconds to think about each question and then 90 seconds to answer.

You can’t redo the responses, which means you only get one chance to speak and give your answer.

The first question is chosen at random, and the second is a fixed question: “What will you gain from the London Business School MBA program that you won’t get from another MBA program?”

Kira Talent on behalf of INSEAD will notify you via email with a link to 4 video interviews shortly after you submit your online application to the INSEAD MBA program. The application system dashboard will also display your link.

The video is a one-of-a-kind chance to show the INSEAD admissions committee what drives you, what inspires you, and who you really are. The MBA Admissions Committee wants to observe how you respond to unexpected situations and express yourself in your own words.

Please note that the video interviews are a supplement to in-person interviews with Alumni, not a replacement for them.

INSEAD will not consider your application complete until they have received your responses to the video interviews. Video interviews should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours after the application deadline.

Here are 11 tips that will help you prepare well and consequently do well on your MBA video essay.

You can also take a look at this video for more helpful tips:

Gather anecdotes, both personal and professional

Most schools ask applicants to think about the questions and answer them in less than a minute. Use the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method to answer the questions. Answer the essay questions by talking about a situation you’ve been in, what you did about it, and what happened as a result. Using the STAR method to answer a question will help you say what you need to say quickly and in an impactful manner.

Answer to the point

Many of the video essay questions are about why you want to get an MBA or what your career goals are. Depending on the category, you should make a list of your professional experiences and write your answers around them. Talk about why that business school is a great fit for your career goals when you have the chance. Talk about what your exact goals are and how this program will help you reach them.

Choose a place that is quiet and well-lit

While you’re making the video, there shouldn’t be any noise that gets in your way. To avoid verbal distractions during the interview, ask a friend or family member to monitor the area.

Use good recording equipment

Even though most schools don’t say anything about the video output, it’s best to use a high-quality webcam and microphone to record your video essay. You can use an external webcam to record video if you’re unhappy with the quality captured by your laptop’s internal camera. Make sure the microphone you select allows for clear speech. You must record a test video and check the video quality, audio output, and lighting.

Don’t let your gadgets steal your focus

Before the interview, make sure your phone is set to “Do Not Disturb” mode and close any programs or browser tabs that you don’t need.

Choose a solid color background

It’s best to record in front of a solid color background, so go with something simple if you can. If there are too many things going on behind you, the viewer may not be able to pay attention to what you are saying.

Keep a pen and notepad ready

Have a notepad and pen ready, as most essay questions will give you less than a minute to organize your thoughts before you have to give your answer. You may need a notepad and pen at the table to write down your main points and supporting examples while answering.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take the help of a question bank available online and shared by business schools to practice as many questions as possible. Remember, always practice in the setting that you are going to be in while answering the real video essay prompts.

Record yourself answering the questions on your list using a camera. Having the answers recorded will help you think about how you sound. Start judging the video only after at least a couple of hours have passed as it will give you a fresh perspective. While evaluating, make sure you are not saying fillers like “like..” and “umm…”. Hemming and hawing give the impression that you are unprepared.

Check your posture and facial expressions as you answer the questions. If you don’t like the first try, keep trying until you get the result that you want. Send your final production to people you trust for critique. It’s the best way to figure out what kind of opinions someone will have when evaluating your video essay.

Dress professionally

It is important to dress appropriately for the video essay because it is viewed as a “pre-interview” with the admissions committee.

Maintain a good body language

Body language is a very important thing to keep in mind during your video essay. Make sure to sit up straight during the whole recording and have a smile on your face. The best way to figure out what’s wrong with your body language is to record yourself answering some of the questions on your list and then looking at the video. By practicing while fixing these kinds of mistakes, you can get rid of any nervous ticks before the final take.

Position the camera accordingly to be able to sit in an upright posture

Adjust the webcam so that it is at eye level so that you can answer while maintaining a straight posture. Never answer without first looking directly into the camera.

A video essay is not meant to be scripted but prepared. It’s a way for business schools to check your level of preparedness and awareness with your application. With some organized planning, you can make a great video essay. 

We can help you craft an outstanding video essay. Get in touch with us to know more about our MBA application services.

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Lights, Camera, Acceptance: Crafting Compelling Video/Kira Essays for MBA Admissions

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By Arvind Kumar

23 September 2023

In recent years, the MBA admissions process has evolved to incorporate various innovative elements, and one such element gaining prominence is the video essay.

While traditional written essays and standardized test scores remain significant factors in the application, many top-tier business schools have started asking applicants to submit video essays.

Video essays allow candidates to showcase their personality, communication skills, and suitability for the MBA program. 

In this article, we will delve into the why and how of video essays for MBA admissions, examining their significance, the qualities admissions committees seek, and tips for acing video essays at some of the top business schools.

We’ve also compiled the list of video essay questions for B-schools that include this component in their application process: Northwestern Kellogg, INSEAD, Rotman, Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, Oxford Saïd, IESE and IE.

Why Business Schools Ask for a Video Essay

What do mba video essays entail, types of video essays, northwestern kellogg, rotman school of management, oxford saïd, iese business school, ie business school, creating video/ kira essays for mba admissions: tips for pre-recorded and impromptu versions, final thoughts.

Business schools request video essays as part of the MBA admissions process for various reasons. These video essays offer a unique opportunity to assess applicants beyond traditional written materials. 

Here’s a list of 10 key qualities that business schools are looking for in applicants and how different aspects of the video essay can help assess these qualities:

Communication Skills

  • Quality Demonstrated: Clarity of Expression
  • Video Essay Component: The ability to articulate thoughts coherently and persuasively in the video.


  • Quality Demonstrated: Genuine Self-Presentation
  • Video Essay Component: Authenticity is revealed through unscripted, spontaneous responses that show the real personality of the applicant.

Confidence and Poise

  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Handle Pressure
  • Video Essay Component: Maintaining confidence and composure while responding to unexpected questions or prompts.
  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Capture Attention
  • Video Essay Component: Keeping the viewer engaged by using storytelling techniques and compelling anecdotes.

Cultural Fit

  • Quality Demonstrated: Alignment with School Values
  • Video Essay Component: Demonstrating enthusiasm for the school and its culture through genuine expressions of interest.

Problem-Solving Skills

  • Quality Demonstrated: Analytical Thinking
  • Video Essay Component: Responding effectively to complex or challenging questions, showcasing problem-solving abilities.

Leadership Potential

  • Quality Demonstrated: Presence and Influence
  • Video Essay Component: Portraying oneself as a confident and impactful leader who inspires and motivates others.

Teamwork and Collaboration

  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Work Well with Others
  • Video Essay Component: Sharing experiences highlighting teamwork, cooperation, and the ability to collaborate effectively.


  • Quality Demonstrated: Flexibility and Resilience
  • Video Essay Component: Adapting to unexpected prompts and situations, demonstrating the ability to think on one’s feet.

Passion and Drive

  • Quality Demonstrated: Enthusiasm and Commitment
  • Video Essay Component: Conveying genuine passion for one’s goals and showcasing the drive to make a meaningful impact.

These qualities are essential for success in an MBA program and in the business world. The video essay serves as a valuable tool for admissions committees to assess these qualities in applicants, allowing them to make more informed decisions about who would thrive in their academic environment and contribute positively to their MBA community. 

As an applicant, you should use the video essay as an opportunity to showcase your unique strengths and qualities that set you apart from the competition.

MBA video essays involve candidates responding to prompts from the admissions committee through self-recorded videos instead of relying on written responses.

This component has been introduced as an additional element in the application process for select business schools, without replacing traditional written MBA admission essays or the final admission interview.

It’s worth highlighting that due to the relatively recent incorporation of this concept into the MBA application process, different business schools may use varying terminology.

For instance, Kellogg Business School may label it as a video essay, while INSEAD may term it a Video Interview, and MIT may refer to it as a Video Statement. Despite the nomenclature differences, they all essentially entail the same process, with the only potential variation being the video essay’s format.

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There are generally two types of video essays asked in MBA admissions: Live/Impromptu and Pre-recorded. Each type serves a unique purpose and presents its own set of challenges and advantages.

Live/Impromptu Video Essays

Live or impromptu video essays require MBA applicants to respond to questions or prompts in real time.

Candidates are typically given a limited amount of time to prepare their thoughts, often ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Once the preparation time is up, they must begin recording their response immediately. 

This format aims to assess an applicant’s ability to think on their feet, communicate clearly, and maintain composure under pressure. Admissions committees use live video essays to gauge an individual’s spontaneity, poise, and how effectively they can address unexpected topics or situations.

Pre-recorded Video Essays

Pre-recorded video essays, on the other hand, allow MBA applicants more control over the timing of their responses.

In this format, candidates receive a set of questions or prompts in advance and are allotted a specific amount of time to record their answers. This time frame typically ranges from a few hours to several days, depending on the business school’s requirements. 

Pre-recorded video essays allow applicants to carefully craft and rehearse their responses, emphasizing their communication skills, creativity, and thoughtfulness in addressing the given prompts. This format allows for a more polished presentation but still evaluates an applicant’s ability to convey their ideas effectively through video.

Which business schools ask to submit a video essay?

Applicants are required to complete three video essay questions as part of their application.

These questions provide a valuable opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality, communication skills, and alignment with Kellogg’s values. The video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline, so plan your application timeline accordingly. 

Remember that you have a 20-second preparation period and up to one minute to respond. Use the prep time wisely to outline your answer mentally, and then deliver a clear and concise response within the allotted minute.

Let’s delve into each of the three video essay questions:

Question 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

The introduction sets the tone for your application.

Be concise, authentic, and memorable. Start with a brief overview of your background, highlighting key experiences that have shaped your journey.

Mention your name, current profession, and what drives your passion for pursuing an MBA at Kellogg. Use this opportunity to provide a glimpse of your unique personality and values.

Question 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

Tip: This question demands a strategic approach.

Clearly articulate your career goals, emphasizing both short-term and long-term objectives.

Explain why Kellogg is your ideal platform for achieving these goals. Mention specific resources, courses, or aspects of the Kellogg program that align with your aspirations.

Your response should reflect a deep understanding of Kellogg’s offerings and a strong connection between your goals and the school’s unique advantages.

Question 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Tip: Use this question to highlight your resilience and growth. Choose a challenge, either personal or professional, that showcases your ability to overcome adversity and learn from the experience.

Describe the challenge briefly, focusing more on the lessons learned and how it has influenced your character and decision-making.

Conclude by explaining how these lessons will contribute to your success as an MBA candidate at Kellogg.

Compilation of Kellogg Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Introduce yourself outside of your CV.
  • Tell us something about yourself that we won’t know from your resume
  • There are many MBA schools. What’s so unique about Kellogg?
  • How long have you been considering an MBA and what have you learned about your goals in this time?
  • Whose leadership style do you admire the most and you wish to adopt?
  • Tell us about a time you were uncomfortable. How did you feel?
  • What is one misconception coworkers have about you and how do you plan to change that?
  • Tell us about the best piece of advice you have received, how you utilized it and how it impacted you?
  • Tell us about a time you received harsh feedback. What was your reaction and how did you proceed to act on it?
  • Tell us about one time when you received feedback that changed your perspective about something
  • Tell us about  time you received feedback that you didn’t agree with
  • Tell us about a time when you helped improved a process in your company, organization or community
  • When and how did you resolve a conflict?
  • Tell us about a time when you faced unforeseen or unexpected challenges
  • Tell us about a time you failed and used an unconventional approach the next time. What happened?
  • Tell us about a time when a conflict affected the productivity of the team? How did you handle it? What did you learn from it?
  • Tell us about a time where an unexpected situation arose? Why did it arise? What did you do to pivot and why?
  • Tell us about a time where you used a unique or creative way to solve a problem. What did you do and what was the outcome?
  • What is one value or quality that you bring to the Kellogg community and how will it help others?
  • Tell us about an experience outside school and outside office that motivated you to pursue a postgraduate education?
  • Tell us about a time you leveraged a professional relationship to achieve your goals
  • Tell us how you created an environment where differences and diverse ideas are respected. What was the outcome?
  • Tell us about a time you added value in a professional capacity 
  • Tell us about a time when you had to ask for help. What did you learn?

Note: Please consider this list indicative and not exhaustive

After you’ve successfully submitted your INSEAD MBA online application, an email notification from Kira Talent will swiftly arrive in your inbox, containing a unique link for you to embark on four video interviews. 

These interviews entail answering four distinct questions, and it’s essential to note that the questions presented to you may differ from those posed to other applicants. You’ll have a brief 45 seconds to prepare for each question and a minute to articulate your response.

These video interviews present a distinct opportunity for you to unveil your passions, motivations, and your true essence. The MBA Admissions Committee seeks an authentic portrayal of you as an individual, eager to witness your ability to think on your feet and effectively communicate your thoughts.

It’s important to emphasize that these video interviews do not replace face-to-face/online interviews with Alumni, which will still be a part of the assessment process. The video essay has to be submitted within 48 hours after the deadline of the Round in which you apply to INSEAD.

Tips for INSEAD Video Essay

  • To ensure a seamless experience, INSEAD recommends using either Microsoft Edge or Chrome for recording your Kira videos. Preparing extensively by practicing is encouraged, as it allows you to convey authentic and genuine responses, even though the practice questions and your responses won’t be disclosed to the Admissions Committee.
  • Before you begin recording, conduct a brief technology check by testing your camera and microphone. Once satisfied with the technical aspects, shift your focus to the camera, envisioning that you are addressing the Admissions Committee directly.
  • Wear Business or Business Casual Attire.
  • Lastly, consider keeping a notebook handy during the interviews to jot down key ideas. Remember, you’ll have just 45 seconds to prepare for each answer, followed by 60 seconds to deliver your response to the Admissions Committee.

Compilation of INSEAD MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • What keeps you engaged and motivated at work?
  • How will INSEAD help you achieve your professional objectives?
  • Describe a time when you saw someone else doing something differently. How did you react?
  • Describe a time when you received negative feedback. How did you feel?
  • Do you consider yourself to be creative?
  • What do you think is the biggest challenge in leading a global team?
  • If you look back 10 years into your life, what would success mean to you?
  • Who or what inspires you the most?
  • What is the leadership quality you admire? Why?
  • How do you handle frustration at work and give constructive criticism?
  • How can INSEAD help you to contribute to the community?
  • What skills do you think you are missing that you want to work on while at INSEAD?
  • Tell us about something that your family or company borrowed from someone else, its advantages and its disadvantages
  • Why should we select you?
  • Tell us about the most pressing climate concern today and how you will tackle it?
  • How do you handle frustration at work? How do you openly communicate to resolve the frustration?
  • Are you aware of your biases? How does that affect your thoughts?
  • If you were given unlimited resources, which product or services would you offer to community and why?
  • What are your guiding principles or involvement in Coporate and Social Responsibility
  • How is diversity handled at your organization?
Applying to INSEAD? Learn from Adhiraj’s successful journey to the INSEAD MBA with scholarships

Once you’ve submitted your application, expect an email from Kira Talent, a designated service provider. Within this email, you will discover a link granting access to the video essay platform, a crucial component of Rotman’s application process, which comprises two video questions.

Upon accessing the platform and initiating the session, you will be presented with a total of two spoken questions, delivered sequentially, one after the other.

Once you receive the question, you will be granted a 30-second window for contemplation, followed by a 90-second timeframe for your response. It’s essential to note that there are no opportunities for revisiting or reattempting the question; you have just one opportunity to express your thoughts and provide your answer.

Regardless of when you initially submit your application, remember that the clock starts ticking once you access the video essay platform. You must submit your video essay response within two weeks of submitting your application to complete this vital step in the Rotman admissions process.

Once you’ve successfully submitted your application, expect an email notification from Kira Talent, the designated company for Yale’s video essay component. Inside this email, you’ll find a link that grants access to the video essay platform.

Upon logging in and commencing the session, you’ll encounter a total of three Yale video essay questions, presented one at a time. These questions are randomly generated but fall into distinct categories, each with its own focus.

The Yale video essay questions are thoughtfully categorized into three groups:

  • MBA Motivations (Group 1) : The initial question in the Yale SOM video essay will center on your motivations, specifically regarding your interest in Yale or the rationale behind pursuing an MBA.
  • Behavioral Questions (Group 2) : Yale values individuals who embody purpose-driven adaptability, teamwork, and strong communication skills. Therefore, they often pose questions aimed at assessing your ability to collaborate effectively and your potential to contribute positively to the Yale community.
  • The Thinking Question (Group 3) : In addition to traditional interview queries, you will be tasked with responding to a “thinking question,” akin to a case study, during the Yale video essay. This question serves to evaluate your ability to think on your feet, a crucial aspect tested in Yale’s raw case method.

As you approach these questions, keep in mind that for the first and third, you’ll have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to provide your response. However, for the second question, you’ll be granted 30 seconds of preparation time and 90 seconds to articulate your answer.

Regardless of when you submit your initial application, remember that it’s imperative to complete and submit your responses to the Yale video essay questions within a maximum of 48 hours following the round’s application deadline. This ensures your application remains complete and on schedule.

Compilation of Yale SOM Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Why are you doing an MBA now?
  • What motivates you to get an MBA at this point?
  • Tell us about a time when a team member was not doing his share of work and how you handled it
  • Tell us about a time you or your team fixed a critical problem at work
  • Tell us about a problem that you solved by breaking down into its pieces
  • Tell us about a time when there was a potential problem at work and how did you prevent it?
  •  Mention a vague problem that was given to you and how did you solve it?
  • Tell us about a teacher who has impacted you in life?
  •  Yale School of Drama has produced many world renowned artists (e.g. Meryl Streep). Which artist do you admire most and why?
  • Which type of art holds significance to you among the various arts across Yale Center for European arts, Yale Center for Natural arts and Yale Center for British arts?
  • New Haven has great architectural significance ( something along these lines ). What piece of architecture has the greatest significance to you in your hometown or region? Why? 
  • What is a tradition you hold dear to yourself?

Question: “Please take a minute to introduce yourself to your future classmates.”

This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and make a personal connection. Unveil your true self, let your personality sparkle, and have a genuine conversation – this is your moment to shine.

Keep the following criteria in mind when creating your videos for MIT:

  • Keep it under 60 seconds, no more!
  • Record it all in a single take, no editing allowed.
  • Speak directly into the camera.
  • Avoid adding background music or subtitles to your video.

In order to learn more about applicants and assess their ability to think quickly, Oxford Saïd’s MBA application process includes an online assessment.

Once the MBA application is submitted, you will find a link in the application status portal. This link allows you to register with Kira Talent, the online assessment platform, and complete the assessment. The assessment can be done anytime before the application deadline for the desired stage, for instance, Round 1 applicants must complete the assessment by the Round 1 deadline.

The online assessment consists of three parts:

  • Two motivation-based questions that all candidates must answer. These questions aim to let you explain your reasons for pursuing an MBA and why you believe the Oxford MBA is the best fit for you. Each applicant receives the same two questions.

Example: “Why do you think pursuing an MBA is the next step in your career?”

  • One competency-based question chosen randomly from a pool of available questions. This question allows you to demonstrate skills and qualities such as decision-making, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, influencing, change management, and communication.

Example: “Could you share an experience where you successfully handled a challenging situation, either in your professional or personal life? How did you approach resolving it?”

  • A written response (essay), which will be randomized and light-hearted to display how you can think on your feet and write.

Example: “What was your favorite book as a child and why?”

For each motivation-based question, you have 60 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to respond. For each competency-based question, there is 45 seconds of preparation time followed by 60 seconds to provide an answer.

It’s important to note that there are no opportunities to redo the questions, and you have only one chance to respond and share your answers during the assessment. The entire online assessment should take about 30 minutes to complete, so plan accordingly.

Compilation of Oxford Saïd MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Since how long have you wanted to do your MBA? Why now is the right time and what skills do you hope to gain?
  • Students apply to many programmes and B schools. According to you, what makes Oxford unique?
  • Tell us about a time you were overloaded with work, how did you handle it?
  • Tell us about a time you asked for help and how did it go?
  • Tell us about a time you led a diverse team, what specific skill did you use and why?
  • Tell us a time when you had an idea and had to convince your project team.
  • What is the most significant personal weakness that you have identified, what did you do about it and what was the result?
  • Imagine you are proposing a business innovation idea for a class project and the audience is not interested. What would you do?
  • How would you convince a team about your idea if you were sure of its positive outcome?
  • How do you describe the color red to someone who can only see in black and white? 
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs? Explain why.

IESE Business School has introduced Video Essays as part of the application process this year, replacing the previous personal essay requirement.

The purpose of this change is to gain a deeper and more authentic understanding of applicants. It allows the Admissions Committee to get insights into the thought process and communication style of each candidate.

After submitting the written application and paying the required fees, you will receive a Kira Video Essay link within 24 hours, to be completed by the Application Round Deadline. This link will expire 48 hours after receipt. You will receive detailed instructions along with the link. Upon clicking the link, you can create a Kira account and practice before recording your video essay.

Each applicant will need to respond to two video essay questions. For each question, there will be a preparation time before recording the response.

Applicants are encouraged to be concise, as they have a limited time of 1.5 minutes to provide each answer. The Admissions Committee values authenticity and is interested in getting to know the real applicant, rather than hearing what they think the committee wants to hear.

It’s important to note that the application will be considered complete and ready for review only after all components, including the video essays, have been submitted.

Compilation of IESE MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • How do we pronounce your name?
  • Tell us something about you not in your resume.
  • Tell us something that’s unique about you – traits and attributes uniquely you.
  • What is the one feedback you received that you didn’t agree with? How did you react and what was the outcome?
  • Every team has a certain archetype: architect, analyst etc. Which archetype are you when you play in a team? And why?
  •  Tell us one thing you like and one thing you don’t like about your current job.
  • Give a background of yourself and what abilities you can bring to the IESE MBA.
  • When was the last time you were creative.
Check out our interview with IESE MBA Adcom including insights on the application process, interviews, careers and more here

This year, IE Business School has introduced a video essay to get to know you better. The online assessment is quick and won’t take more than 30 minutes.

IE Business School has added this to its admissions process because they believe in innovation. This part of the process helps them understand your personality and how you respond in real time. 

You’ll need a computer with an internet connection, a microphone, and a webcam. You’ll answer three live questions – two in video format and one in writing. You can practice several times, but remember, once you officially start the assessment, you only have one chance to respond. You have one week from when you submitted your online admissions application to complete this online assessment.

Video essays have become a vital component of the MBA admissions process, offering applicants a unique platform to showcase their personality and communication skills. Whether it’s a pre-recorded or impromptu video essay, here are ten tips to help you excel in this aspect of your application:

Understand the Purpose

  • Pre-Recorded: Pre-recorded video essays often have prompts that allow for structured responses. Understand the specific question and ensure your video essay directly addresses it.
  • Impromptu: In impromptu video essays, you may not know the questions in advance. Focus on providing insightful, concise answers to the given prompts.
  • Pre-Recorded: Use your allotted time efficiently. Be concise in your response while ensuring you provide a complete and well-structured answer.
  • Impromptu: Stay on point and avoid rambling. Use the given preparation time to outline your response and make your points concisely during the recording.

Prepare Thoroughly

  • Pre-Recorded: Take time to brainstorm ideas, outline your response, and rehearse multiple times. Ensure your message is clear and compelling.
  • Impromptu: Since you may have limited time to prepare, practice answering diverse types of questions to build your ability to think on your feet. Doing Mock Interviews can particularly help.

Showcase Your Personality

  • Pre-Recorded: Your video should provide a glimpse of your character and values. Let your authenticity shine through by being yourself.
  • Impromptu: Be genuine in your responses. Authenticity is highly valued in impromptu video essays.

Maintain Eye Contact

  • Pre-Recorded: Look directly into the camera to establish a connection with the viewer. This creates a sense of engagement and sincerity.
  • Impromptu: Even when you don’t know the questions in advance, maintain eye contact with the camera during your responses to appear confident and composed.

Have a Strong Opening and Closing

  • Pre-Recorded: Begin with a compelling introduction and end with a memorable conclusion that reinforces your main points.
  • Impromptu: Use the initial seconds to frame your response and conclude succinctly by summarizing your key message.

Eliminate Distractions

  • Pre-Recorded: Choose a quiet, well-lit location with minimal distractions for your recording. Ensure your background is professional.
  • Impromptu: Find a quiet spot where you can focus solely on your response without interruptions.

Manage your Time Well

  • Pre-Recorded: Allocate sufficient time for recording, reviewing, and editing if necessary. Avoid rushing the process.
  • Impromptu: Manage your time wisely during preparation and response. Stick to the given time limits.

Rehearse Video Recording Technology

  • Pre-Recorded: Familiarize yourself with the recording equipment and software. Ensure your audio and video quality are top-notch.
  • Impromptu: Check your internet connection, camera, and microphone in advance to avoid technical glitches.

Seek Feedback

  • Pre-Recorded: Share your video with mentors, advisors or trusted friends to gather constructive feedback and make improvements.
  • Impromptu: After practicing impromptu responses, seek feedback on your communication skills and clarity.

In both pre-recorded and impromptu video essays, the key is effectively communicating your message while showcasing your suitability for the MBA program. With preparation, practice, and attention to these tips, you can create impressive video essays that enhance your MBA application.

In an increasingly competitive MBA admissions landscape, video essays offer you a chance to stand out and convey your unique value to the business school of your choice.

Use this opportunity to not only address the questions asked but also to paint a vivid picture of your aspirations, experiences, and character. It’s a tool that, when used effectively, can elevate your application and set you on the path to success in your MBA journey. So, embrace the challenge, be yourself, and make your video essay a compelling testament to your candidacy.

If you would like our support on your B-school applications, feel free to reach out!

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Ellin Lolis Consulting

How to record a winning MBA Video Essay

Nov 25, 2019

mba application video essay

UPDATE : This article was originally posted on October 1, 2018. It has been updated with new information and tips below. 

With the number of applications to elite business schools increasing each year, admissions committees need increasingly powerful tools to separate candidates they want to learn more about and candidates who just don’t fit the culture of their school . 

For that reason, many MBAs have instituted video essays as part of their application. 

Video essays give you the chance to show your personality to the admissions committee – and make a stunning first impression. In many cases, such as at INSEAD , this will be the only time the admissions committee has direct contact with you. As such, the video essay is not just another box to tick, but is an essential part of the application and an unmatched opportunity to show you belong. 

Doing so, however, can be challenging, which is why we have prepared this guide to help you ace your MBA video essays and earn a spot at your dream school!

Why do business schools require a video essay?

Though many applicants see video essays as a major headache, they have become increasingly popular, with more and more schools adopting the practice each year. 

Considering the stress the video essays cause applicants, why do business schools seem to love the practice?

Niki da Silva, former Director of Admissions at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (the school that started the whole video essay trend) said that the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different skills and competencies in the admissions process.

That’s because the video format gives the admissions committee the chance to truly “meet” candidates – as well as identify red flags in applicants. 

According to INSEAD’s admissions committee:

“ The video should be seen as a unique opportunity for you to share your passions, your motivations and who you truly are. The MBA Admissions Committee is interested in obtaining an authentic view of you as a person, to see how you think on your feet and how you convey your ideas .” 

With that in mind, it’s extremely important to make sure you fully understand this component of the application. 

How does the video essay work?

Though the specifics vary slightly from school to school, the general elements of the video essay are relatively similar.

mba application video essay

In all cases, you will sign into an online platform (most often you will receive the link to access the platform via email after submitting your application). 

After signing in, you will receive a set of questions (usually ranging from 2-4) on a variety of topics ranging from why you want to attend a particular school, to ice breaker questions, to standard interview-type questions. 

For all schools, the timing mechanism will be slightly different, but you can expect to have between 20-60 seconds to prepare your answer and between 45-90 seconds to deliver your answers. 

In all cases, you cannot redo questions . 

If you’d like to get ahead start in preparing for your Kellogg , INSEAD , or London Business School video essays, you can find articles with real questions to practice by clicking the links. 

The difference between a good and great video essay

Given the importance of the video essay in your MBA application, it’s crucial to make sure you don’t just have a good video essay, but that you have a great video essay.  

Now that you’ve learned how the video essay will work, we’ve gathered our top 5 tips to ensure your video essay performance brings you one step closer to reaching your goal of attending an elite business school. 

Tip 1: Choose your background and attire wisely

Though you don’t need to wear a full suit and make a trip to the office to record your video essay, consider your setting and attire carefully. 

You should record the essay in a relatively quiet area. If your apartment is located near a busy street with audible traffic, you may want to find a different place to record. Similarly, if you choose to record at your place of work, make sure to find a time when few people are likely to interrupt you. Remember – no redos. 

To ensure the best results, set yourself up in front of a relatively neutral background . A piece of art or organized shelf with few items in the background is ok, but busy or distracting backgrounds will pull the attention away from the main attraction (YOU!) and should be avoided. 

When setting up, make sure the camera shows your entire face and that you can be easily heard by your device’s microphone. iPads and iPhones tend to be trickier to record on for these reasons (as well as for potential software incompatibilities or glitches), so we recommend you record from your desktop computer or laptop. 

Finally, though you don’t need to “dress up” for the interview, y ou should look presentable and professional . If you feel most comfortable wearing a suit and tie, however, this is also acceptable. 

We also suggest you remove glasses , since it makes your eyes difficult to see. If you don’t have contact lenses or can’t reasonably see your screen without your glasses, make sure you play with your lighting in advance to find a configuration that avoids any type of glare appearing on your glasses. After all, not being able to see your eyes has the same effect as making poor eye contact . 

Tip 2: Be personable on camera

This is quite a specific skill to master, but with a bit of practice will get much easier.

mba application video essay

My best tip for you is to practice recording yourself and time yourself as well . Go through the questions you have, take your planning time to think and plan, and then record yourself for the time given to respond. 

If you mess up, keep going. You can’t stop and try again in the real thing, so don’t do it now. Continue your answer and fake confidence if necessary!

Then watch yourself back. Were you making eye contact with the camera? Did you smile? Did you look friendly? Bored? Annoyed? Scared?

Chances are the first few you do won’t be great but keep going. Remember that business schools are looking for friendly people to join their community, so make sure you’re showing your true colors on camera. 

You might also like to pretend you’re something of a TV presenter. This can help you to bring your personality forward and be more engaging. You don’t want to seem flat in the recording, so be a little bit brighter and friendlier than you think you need to be, and see how big of a difference it makes to your recordings.

Furthermore, be extremely careful with your tone of voice and body language. If you’re slumped over or look bored, the admissions committee will get the impression you’re not engaged with the task or, worse, that you’re not passionate about their MBA! 

This also goes for tone of voice. Passion is contagious , but the last thing we think of when imagining a passionate person is a monotone, bored voice. So vary your tone of voice and make sure to project your passion for your interests and for their business school. If you’re not naturally good at this, you may want to seek out help from friends or record yourself multiple times until you’ve nailed the brief. 

If you’re still struggling, you may want to do more research into what being personable is all about, or even schedule time with an interview expert to ensure you’re selling yourself well on camera. 

A good interview coach can not only help you match your answers to a particular school’s fit, but can also help you communicate more clearly and make a winning first impression during your interview. 

You’ll also want to be strict with yourself about timing . Don’t go over, you won’t get to do that for real. If you find you’re running out of time, a good place to look is to see if you’re taking too long to get started with the answer, or if you’re trying to say too much.

Cut out long introductions, and stick to a few points per answer.

But most importantly, don’t forget to smile ! Though this may sound cliché or outdated, smiling really is one of the best — and easiest — ways to be memorable and to create a positive first impression. 

Tip 3: Be prepared to think on your feet

mba application video essay

With the timer counting down and no option to check your interviewer’s body language for subtle clues about how well your answer is being received, video essays can be incredibly challenging. 

Even more so when you receive a question you weren’t prepared for!

Yet receiving a curveball question is no reason to panic, since the best way to handle this situation is through a mix of preparation and being spontaneous . 

A good way to avoid completely drawing a blank is to have a few solid examples you’re ready to speak about and adapt.

For example, let’s say you recently worked on a project in a foreign country. You experienced culture shock while trying to adapt to the new city, faced linguistic challenges both in the office and in your daily life, and also had to mix up your work style to align with local expectations. This experience would be a fantastic “stock” answer to have ready, since it brings in so many different topics that you can adapt the focus based on what the question asks. 

So, think back on your life and career and write a list of defining moments that are broad enough to be adapted to various questions and that show your fit with the school’s community and its values. You may want to refer back to the personal brand you created before writing your application to ensure the examples you’ve selected are consistent with the image you’re working to portray. 

Then, during your thinking time, take a deep breath and plan out your answer. 

While delivering your answer, don’t let the admissions committee in on the little secret that you got caught off guard! Answer confidently, using your tone of voice and body language to show off your winning personality and you’ll have successfully overcome the challenge!

TOP TIP : The admissions committee knows you’ll be a little nervous during the video essay, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel you portrayed this in your video essay. However, if you tend to get extremely nervous or freeze up, make sure to practice extra hard to make sure this doesn’t happen during your official recording.

Tip 4: Don’t wait until the last minute

Though we know applicants have many “to-dos” to finish around MBA deadlines, make sure you dedicate adequate time to both preparing for and recording your video essay. 

Many candidates do set aside adequate time to practice, then let nerves get the best of them and leave the actual recording for just an hour or two before the final deadline. 

This is a mistake. 

There are numerous things that could go wrong while recording (or preparing to record) your video essay and you want to make sure you have time to fix any issues before the deadline expires. Admissions committees will not feel bad that you left your video essay for the last minute and missed the deadline, after all. 

A few years ago, our client Elizabeth was passionate about attending Kellogg and diligently prepared with our video essay experts to ensure that she was ready to put her best foot forward. 

After recording her first question, however, a major storm rolled in, cutting power to her building for hours. The good news was that she still had more than 24 hours left before the final deadline, which gave her ample time to contact support and finish her video essay. 

Though you hopefully don’t experience such a dramatic problem during your video essay, remember that problems and interruptions do happen, so it’s wise to start recording with plenty of time to troubleshoot. 


As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And if Barack Obama still practices his speeches , chances are you should practice too! 

For the video essay, we suggest several types of practice to ensure you really nail the actual recording

First, by downloading our lists of real video essay questions and writing out your answers, you’ll already have a large database of usable responses that can be easily adapted to fit similar questions. So make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to practice! 

mba application video essay

Second, rehearse delivering your answers . We’ve all experienced situations where we had the perfect answer in our head, only to have it spill out in a disorganized mess when we tried to actually communicate the answer. This is more common than you’d think, so make sure you’ve “test driven” your answers at least once. 

During this phase, receiving feedback from an expert can help you polish your answers, making sure they show you off and demonstrate you have a strong “fit” with your target school. Our team of experts has successfully helped 99.67% of our clients secure admissions to at least one target school, so you can count on our team of interview experts to make sure you’re camera ready !

Finally, many schools offer you the chance to go through two practice questions in the platform itself. This is a great chance to both make sure you’re equipment is properly set up and to get a feel for the timing and flow of the real video essay. Though we suggest you prepare extensively before reaching this step, make sure you don’t skip this extra chance to prepare!

Make sure you shine

You have stressed about every aspect of your MBA application , and now you are ready to record your video essay! With the right preparation, this can be your chance to shine and get a highly-coveted spot at a prestigious business school. 

However, maybe you don’t know where to start in preparing, or maybe you ramble on and lose your focus while answering. Maybe you’ve even downloaded the sample questions and written out your answers. The problem is, when you try to apply these templates to your own story, it doesn’t quite work.

Our video essay prep focuses on helping you determine how to present yourself to the admissions committee while using appropriate, impact-driven language without being artificial, or worse, robotic.

mba application video essay

Want to put the Ellin Lolis advantage to work for you? Schedule your preparation session with our native-English speaking team of interview experts today!

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How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay—With Examples

The MBA essay is critical to your business school application. Read our guide to writing the perfect MBA essay, with successful admit examples.

Posted August 17, 2023

mba application video essay

Applying to the Chicago Booth Scholars Program

Thursday, february 22.

10:00 PM UTC · 45 minutes

What is the MBA Essay?

The MBA admissions essay.

Those words alone are enough to make most MBA candidates run screaming. Writing in general is hard enough. Writing about why you want an MBA? Your short-term goals and career aspirations? What matters to you most, and why? Forget it.

Of course, you still have to write these essays.

The MBA essay is perhaps  the most important part of the business school application. (It's also getting more and more important by the day, with some business schools moving away from traditional, quantitative measuring sticks, like the GMAT and the GRE.) Every other part of the application — your GPA, your test scores, your letters of recommendation — are quantified, cut and dried, or out of your control. The essay is your chance to show up as a fully realized MBA candidate, with hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities. Admissions committees are not simply assessing your candidacy as a future leader — they're looking to admit human beings. That's where the MBA applicant essays come in.

That being the case, rather than being intimidated by it, treat the essay like the opportunity that it is — the chance for you to highlight your unique, iridescent self; the only moment in the MBA admissions process (prior to the interview) when you can speak directly to the admissions officers; the time when you'll show them who you really are. It's not easy to write something that will do that, of course, but with the tips and tricks in this guide, and some help from one of Leland's vetted, world-class admissions coaches, we know you can do it. Give the essay the time, attention, and respect it deserves, and you'll be on your way to an offer of admission at your dream school.

Without further ado, let's dive in!

Free MBA Essay Guide

Enter your email in the form below to receive our FREE MBA Essay Guide. This guide breaks down a system to help you brainstorm ideas, create structured outlines, write powerful essays, and polish them into a finished product.

How Long Will My MBA Essay Take?

First thing's first: let's talk about timing.

The MBA application is a behemoth; between exams, resumes, gathering your official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the applications themselves, there's a lot to juggle. That being the case, we suggest you give yourself ample time to draft, write, and revise your essays. The last thing you want is to be rushed to the finish line.

So, give yourself  at least three months to write your MBA essays. That should allow you ample time to draft, write, and edit. For more information on timing your entire b-school application, click here for  A Comprehensive MBA Application Timeline--With Chart .

Now, on to the critical question:

What Makes a Great MBA Essay?

At the highest level, the answer is the one that is truest to you. The whole point of these essays is to shine through as an authentic, vibrant human being, so the best essays are the ones that cut through the clutter, and allow you do to that.

Which begs the question — how  do you cut through the clutter and shine through as a vibrant human being? Here are four critical tips to follow as you begin thinking about your essays.

1. Answer the Question

This one sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many applicants launch into their story, get carried away, and forget to answer the question. Follow the prompt, and answer the question the admissions committee has asked you. Those prompts can actually be very useful when writing your essays — it's a great deal harder to write when you have no guidance or guardrails. With the MBA essays, you have a very specific question you need to answer. So answer it!

2. Be Specific

Another mistake some MBA applicants make is to stay at a high level in their essays, keeping their writing abstract and therefore inaccessible to the admissions committee. If at any point, an admissions officer could replace your name with the name of another applicant, then your essay isn't getting deep enough. It's not enough, for instance, to say that you suffered adversity in high school, or that you really, really want a Wharton MBA. You need to explain, in detail, the adversity you faced, and give concrete and unique reasons why you think Wharton is the right program for you. The best essays offer hyper-specific examples and anecdotes, with details and anecdotes that no other candidate could bring to the table. To get those anecdotes, we recommend using the STAR template, as explained below:

  • Situation : What was the situation you were facing? Where were you? How old were you? If you were in a professional role during this anecdote, what was the role, and how long had you been in it? If you were volunteering, at what organization? How long had you been volunteering there? Why did you start? Offer all the relevant information that the admissions readers will need to understand your story.
  • Task : What was the task at hand? What went wrong? In your professional role, what was the challenge you faced? In that volunteering experience, what were the hurdles you had to overcome? You can't have a good story without conflict or tension, so after you set up the anecdote, explain what that conflict or tension was (and remember, be specific!).
  • Action : What was the action you took to resolve the problem? What did you have to do to fix that issue at work? How did you clear that hurdle in your volunteer experience? Again, be specific about how you came through on the other side of that conflict/tension — and while you're doing it, highlight your leadership capabilities as much as possible! Remember that top MBA programs are looking for future leaders who can assess a situation and decisively take action. (We'll say a bit more about this below, in the Personal Statement section.
  • Result : What was the result of your action? If you were facing a growth problem at work, were you able to increase sales? If so, by what percentage? If you were advocating for diversity and inclusion at your local charity, what new programs did you implement to help with that effort, and what was the enrollment like in those new programs? Detail what happened in your anecdote with as much specificity as possible — and quantify, quantify, quantify!

Get Vulnerable

Most MBA admissions essay prompts are written with the goal of getting to know as much about you as possible in the shortest number of words. To do that, you're going to have to share real things from your life — to get personal, intimate, and vulnerable. Do not shy away from this. If you're starting to get emotional during the reflection, drafting, and writing process, good — that means you're on the right track. Keep going. Pro tip: If it’s making you cry, it will make them cry. Another good rule of thumb is to put something real and true on the table. Admissions officers have to read literally thousands of applications from thoroughly qualified individuals, some of whom might come from similar roles to yours, with letters of recommendation from equally impressive supervisors. In order to cut through that noise, you'll have to share something honest. If you're doing it right, this can feel risky. At some point, you’ll likely think to yourself: “Can I say that?” The answer is: “Yes.” Of course, there is a line, you don’t want to be crass or offensive but err on the side of being open and authentic. The very worst thing you can do is be overly cautious, and write something you think will please the admissions committee. These poor people have to read thousands of essays. If yours is just like everyone else’s, they’ll fall asleep. Don’t let that happen. Wake them up by putting yourself —your true, bright, vibrant, quirky self—on the page.

4. Don't Exaggerate

Finally, do not exaggerate, over-inflate, or lie. This goes without saying, but admissions committees are looking for honest candidates. The surest way to get rejected is to lie about something. (Business schools do a background check on you before you're properly admitted, so they will find out.) Don't be the person who over-inflates on their essays, then has their offer letter rescinded.

The Types of MBA Essays

All right — since we've covered high-level approaches to the MBA essays, it's time to dig into the various types.

There are three general categories of MBA essays you'll see across the board.

1. Personal Statement

These questions ask you to offer up something sincere about yourself. They'll often touch on such things as your values and your character. In these, you'll want to be as authentic as possible, while also highlighting attributes like leadership, intellectual vitality, and teamwork, that business schools are looking for. Here are a few examples of personal statement essays:

  • As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (HBS)
  • What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford GSB)

2. Why an MBA/Why This School

The next category of essays is the "Why an MBA" / "Why This School" set.

In these, schools first want to hear about how an MBA will fit into your career, both short and long term. Top MBA programs are looking for candidates who will: first of all, be gainfully employed upon graduating, second of all, have an illustrious career that will make their institution look good and encourage future generations of applicants to apply, and third, be consistent and generous donors. That being the case, they want to know about your career trajectory, and how an MBA will fit into it.

Pro tip: Here, you want to be ambitious and inspiring in laying out your future career, but not naïve. Walk the line between shooting for the stars and sounding dreamlike and uninformed.

In this set of questions, you'll also encounter questions geared at figuring out why you would want to attend a specific school. MBA programs want to know that you're serious about attending their school — yield, or the percentage of admitted candidates who accept their offers of admission, is an important metric for them — but they also want to envision how you'll contribute to their admitted class. What will you uniquely bring to the table, the things that you'll do that the other candidates wouldn’t be able to offer?

We've heard former deans of business schools say that, in choosing a class, they're curating a world-class dinner party, and that each person invited to the dinner party has to bring something different. What will you bring to the dinner party?

Pro tip: To demonstrate that you've done your research, and to help the admissions committee envision you in their program, indicate which classes you might take when earning your MBA and why, which professors you might hope to study with, and in which clubs you might participate.

Here are a few examples of "why MBA / why this school" essays:

  • How is a Columbia MBA going to help you? (Columbia)
  • What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (Wharton)
  • Why Stanford? Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. (Stanford GSB)

3. Behavioral/Other

Finally, most other essays will either be behavioral, asking you about experiences, traits, strengths, weaknesses, and achievements. There's a wide variety of topics here, but all the guidelines from above apply, with the final note to always prioritize authenticity (as mentioned in the Personal Statement section) and leadership ability (remember, business schools are choosing future leaders). Here are a few examples of behavioral/other essays:

  • Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (Yale SOM)
  • Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (Columbia)
  • Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? (Stanford GSB)

Top MBA Program Essay Prompts (Updated 2022)

To help you get started, we've compiled the required prompts from a few top MBA programs below:

1. Harvard Business School (HBS)

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (900 words)

For more information, visit A Guide to the HBS Essay .

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

What matters to you most, and why? (650 words)

Why Stanford? (400 words)

Read What Matters Most When Writing the GSB Essays.

How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

For Wharton-specific advice, visit A Guide to the Wharton Essays .

4. Columbia Business School

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a new co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Managing Difficult Conversations. Tell us about a time you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

Essay 3: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams , an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program .Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

5. Chicago Booth

How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of your career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (250-word minimum)

Read more at A Guide to the Booth Essays .

6. Kellogg Northwestern

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Read How to Nail Your Kellogg MBA Application Essays

7. MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity, respect, and passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence, include one or more professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation)

Applicants are required to upload a 1 minute (60 seconds) video as part of their application. In your video, you should introduce yourself to your future classmates, tell us about your past experiences, and touch on why MIT Sloan is the best place for you to pursue your degree.

How to Start Your MBA Essay

So you've read about the types of essays, and seen some of the prompts from top MBA programs. Now it's time to actually start diving into the essay.

The very first thing to do, before putting pen to paper, is to look inward.

Why do  you want an MBA? What role will this degree play in your professional growth? How do you imagine it will shape your life? What do you want out of your career? What is the most important thing in the world to you?

Yes, these are life’s deep-end questions, but you’ll need to tackle them in these essays, so before you start writing, take the time to think through them. Go for a run, swim some laps, bake a cake—however you get into the flow — and start a dialogue with yourself. Put down your work, turn your phone off, and give your mind permission to go to the places it usually avoids. That’s a good place to start. That’s where the answers are.

Pro tip: The first sentence is the hardest one to write. When you're starting out if it can intimidating and anxiety-producing. The trick is to simply put  anything  down — and don't look back. Keep putting one sentence after the other. You can edit later: let whatever comes to you out onto the page. If you’re struggling with self-critique, dim your computer screen until you can’t even see the words you’re typing. Then keep going.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Once you've started your essay, it's a matter of persistence: keep writing, then keep drafting and editing until you have something you're really proud of.

To help you with that process, here are a few more tips and tricks:

  • Take Breaks

When you hit the wall — you will hit the wall — stop. This is your brain telling you it needs to do something else. Walk your dog. Take a lap around your room. Eat some cheese. Your body needs sleep every night to function; your mind is the same way. That next leap of inspiration will come exactly at the moment when you’re least expecting it.

  • Read it Out Loud

When you finally have a draft, print it and read it out loud to yourself. Your ear will catch things your eyes miss. Reading out loud is the best way to pick up on spelling errors, clunky transitions, and paragraphs that still need ironing out. It’s also a good way to envision how the admissions committee will experience your essay.

Don’t be precious with your essay. Send it to anyone willing to read it. Solicit as much feedback as you can. If you don’t like what people have to say, you don’t have to incorporate it, but you need an impartial third party to give notes on what they’re seeing, thinking, and feeling. (You’re too close to things to do it for yourself.) This is where a Leland coach comes very much in handy!

  • Complete Everything Early

This is more of a timing consideration, but you do not want to trip at the finish line because your internet went down the night before the deadline, or your credit card was denied when paying your application fee (it's happened before). Don't let that be you!

Here is another article to get you started, written by an expert essays coach: 7 MBA Essay Tips to Make You Stand Out in 2022 .

Example MBA Essays

Finally, here are two essays to help inspire you. The first, a personal statement essay, was submitted by an admit to Berkeley Haas' Executive MBA program; the second, a career goals / why MBA essay, was submitted by an admit to Chicago Booth's deferred MBA program.

Haas Admit:

A person’s identity is shaped by many different aspects, including family, culture, personal interests, and surrounding environments. Please share a facet of your identity or story that is essential to who you are. (300 words) My upbringing in India, filled with countless myths and legends, had a profound influence on me. The most formative tale was about a sage who prays for years to the goddess of knowledge, but in vain. In the end, the goddess didn’t appear for the sage because he was turning his prayer beads the wrong way! As a child, this story upset me: the sage worked so hard and had the right intentions. As an adult, though, I’ve come to realize that the goddess of knowledge was right: you can’t succeed unless you do things the right way. Seven years ago, two friends and I started a company, XXXX: a digital health platform that would allow patients to store medical records online and consult doctors remotely. We had early success—we brought on 2,000 patients at XXXX, a gynecology clinic in XXXX—but ultimately we didn’t have the resources to properly scale, and had to shut the company down. Among the many lessons I learned, the most valuable was that ideas and hard work are common; businesses succeed or fail based on execution—on doing things the right way. Two years ago, I relearned this lesson in the most painful way possible: when my marriage ended. My wife and I loved each other, but we weren’t there for each other when it mattered most. Our feelings weren’t enough—we had to back them up with the right actions. It’s disheartening when you have good intentions but still fall short. When this happens, though, you have to keep trying—because eventually you will do things the right way. I carry the story of the sage with me always, not as a harsh lesson, but as a motivating goal: one that keeps me striving towards doing things the right way.

Booth Admit:

How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
I want to start a geothermal company that will help lead the energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy—by targeting existing oil wells as sites for geothermal plants. Oil fields are close to electric grids and have high nearby subsurface temperatures, making them ideal sites for geothermal plants. By building geothermal infrastructure nearby, my company will produce cleaner, cheaper energy, making it more profitable for operators to switch from oil to geothermal. As oil companies decommission their wells, I’ll negotiate for their land rights, so I can use their existing wells for new geothermal vents. I want my company to prove the case for economically viable, carbon neutral energy production. After getting an MBA I want to start a geothermal company which will help me lead the energy transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. I plan to target developed oil fields in Texas, where, in many places, producing wells are flowing enough hot fluid to generate clean energy. Using this geothermal heat, the carbon footprint of oil and gas extraction will decrease as fewer fossil fuels are utilized to power surrounding infrastructure. As the wells approach their economic life, I will negotiate the lease from various operators, saving them millions in plug and abandonment costs, and retrofit the wells for direct geothermal energy production via closed loop binary fluid systems, bringing emissions to zero. To accomplish this goal, I need to shore up my knowledge of energy economics and entrepreneurial finance, develop a strong sense of leadership, and build a network of like minded individuals that will help me lead the transition and I believe I can get those things at Chicago Booth. My immediate career goal is to develop my first co-production site in Shelby County, Texas at the Blanton well site, which produces abnormally heated fluid from the flanks of an active salt dome. Before investing in capital expenditures, developing a strong sense of energy economics and broader markets is necessary to verify financial feasibility. University of Chicago, through the Graduate-Student-At-Large: Business program, is already allowing me to accomplish this goal with my enrollment in “Microeconomics” with Professor Andrew McClellan. His instruction helped me understand the impact taxes and subsidies have on market equilibrium, an important aspect of renewable energy as green energy tax incentives continue to change on a yearly basis. As my company continues to grow, having a strong finance and accounting foundation is imperative to building and sustaining a healthy company. Electives such as “Accounting for Entrepreneurship: From Start-Up through IPO” will provide the skills I need to be successful by following the life-cycle of a business that originates as a start-up, and covers topics such as building an initial accounting infrastructure. I understand that execution of the business is as important as developing the idea and proof of concept, and Booth is the best place for me to develop financial fluency. Leading the energy transition will require a strong sense of leadership. Not only will I need to lead those I get to work with over my career, but to lead the energy transition, and reverse the impact fossil fuels have had thus far, I must have the emotional intelligence to inspire others to join me in my journey. The “Interpersonal Dynamics” course at Booth will allow me to develop my communication skills and better understand the emotions and perceptions of my colleagues. These skills, synthesized with leadership development acquired in “Leadership Practicum” will prepare me to act as a relational leader, who understands the needs of others. As a relational leader I hope to foster an environment which promotes happiness, and maximizes efficiency, not only to make our efforts in changing the world more successful, but to excite other people to join our cause.
To find the greatest chance of success in leading the energy transition, I will need a network of like-minded individuals who can provide a diversity of thought. Chicago Booth provides the opportunity to develop that network through different community experiences. The Energy Club’s “Energy Forward” conference, which designates time to topics in oil and gas and renewable energy will allow me to hear from industry leaders, build meaningful relationships with peers and contribute my sector experience to the public forum as I learn from those around me. Opportunities through the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group such as “SeedCon” will help me connect with successful entrepreneurs and early-stage investors whose ideas and funding might change the course of my venture’s trajectory. Even in the GSALB program I have had the opportunity to connect with other students in various sectors, including the energy industry. I hope to continue to strengthen those connections and continue building new ones with matriculation into the full time program.

Here are several other articles that you may find helpful as you put together your MBA application:

  • The Most Frequently Asked Questions on MBA Applications
  • How to Answer the "Why an MBA?" Essay Question
  • My Top Piece of Advice for MBA Applicants
  • How I Nailed My MBA Interview and Gained Admission to Top 10 Business Schools
  • 4 Expert Tips on Paying for Business School

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Rafal Reyzer

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20 Great MBA Application Essay Samples (With Links)

Author: Rafal Reyzer

Want to ace your MBA application? A stellar essay can be your golden ticket.

With elite business schools like Harvard and Stanford boasting acceptance rates as low as 10% and 6% respectively, every aspect of your application counts. While GPA and GMAT scores matter, your essay can be a game-changer. Recognizing its weight, we’ve gathered top-notch MBA essay samples, endorsed by admission committees from premier institutions. Dive in and let’s craft that standout application!

What is an MBA Application Essay?

An MBA application essay is a detailed write-up about your personal and professional goals and aspirations. It also explains how the MBA program will help you attain your objectives for the future. Your essay is your one shot to convince the admission committee to consider you for the initial interview.

professor reading an essay of MBA applicant

What Admission Committee Look for in an MBA Essay?

  • Academic ability
  • Impressive work experience
  • Career Course
  • Authenticity of goals
  • Competencies, leadership , dedication, challenges, and growth
  • The right reason for pursuing an MBA
  • Your compatibility with the culture in which the program is being offered

If you want to learn more, here is the complete guide on how admission committees process MBA applications.

20 Great MBA Applications Essays Samples

Now you have known that what makes a great MBA admission essay, the next step is to write one for yourself. Before writing, check out this list of expert-vetted MBA application essays that secured admissions to top-rated business schools in the world. Admission consultants have shared these samples and they can be helpful if you read and analyze them carefully. If you’re completely unsure about how to get started, there are also custom essay writing services that can help you structure your essay with the help of professional editors.

Sample 1: Leadership-focused MBA application essay

This sample is particularly focused on leadership traits. If your essay is about explaining your leadership quality experience, this sample is right up your alley. The best thing about the essay is that it is written in a simple, engaging, and humorous style. It defines a great experience in a very conversational style.

demonstrating leadership quality

Sample 2: Self-focused MBA application essay 

If you are asked to write about your strengths, weaknesses, aims, and goals in your application essay, this sample will help you. The applicant who wrote this got accepted to the INSEAD business school. It doesn’t merely describe her strengths and weaknesses, but it presents a complete picture of herself as a person. It highlighted the events and incidents that shaped her personality.

Sample 3: Life-hardships-focused MBA application essay

If you want to explain your life’s hardships and the events that turned you into an ambitious person, this sample is for you. In this application essay, the candidate has defined three phases of his life and how he survived through each adversity. He beautifully explained why the MBA program is important to his future.

Sample 4: Continuous growth and learning-focused MBA application essay

This essay was submitted to Harvard Business School. The best thing about this piece is that the writer has explained her learning and professional development journey in a very sequential and engaging manner, which is truly admirable. A useful thing to remember about the MBA essays included in this list is that you can merge them into a single printable and perfectly formatted file with Sodapdf or another PDF editor. Having all of them stored in a single PDF is going to be quite helpful when it’s time to write your piece. But guess what? There are more examples to explore below, so let’s keep going…

Sample 5: Best MBA application essay for low scorers

Have a low GPA? What would you write about academics in an MBA essay to convince the admission committee? Do not overthink! MBA essay is not all about high achievements and sterling background. It is also an opportunity to atone for your past mistakes. This MBA essay was written by a student who obtained very low academic grades, yet got admitted to her desired business school. Her turning point? A powerful application essay.

guitarist with a dream

Sample 6: A guitarist’s application essay for the MBA program

Suppose you are ambitious in a skill or profession that has nothing to do with the MBA program, yet you need the degree for certain reasons. How would you showcase that irrelevant skill in your MBA application essay? This sample essay will show how you how. A guitarist who got selected for the MBA program wrote this one. The applicant has intelligently defined his passion for guitar as a way of developing discipline, determination, leadership, and success. He explained how his passion affected his academics and how the guitar helped him cope with the challenges.

Sample 7: An engineer’s essay for MBA application

If you come from a technical or engineering background and have the ambition to pursue an MBA degree to boost your engineering career, this sample essay will help pave the way for you. This essay was submitted by a mechanical engineer to Harvard Business School. The writer explained how his engineering experience motivated him to pursue an MBA and how the program is important to his long-term goals.

harvard university

Sample 8: Harvard Business School MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to Harvard Business School. Check it out to know what the prestigious academic institution looks for in your essay.

Sample 9: Wharton Business School MBA essay

This essay has been honored as one of the best MBA essays ever received by the Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania. Check out the structure, organization, and flow, and adapt the same to your essay.

Sample 10: Columbia Business School MBA essay

The Columbia Business School’s admission committee shared this MBA essay. They explained why the applicant who wrote this was instantly accepted to the program and why they appreciated its content.

Sample 11: Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to Stanford Business School for an MBA. If you are aiming to get your MBA at Stanford, this sample will give you a deep understanding of what convinces the esteemed school’s admission committee to accept applicants into their fold.

Sample 12: University of California Business School MBA essay

This sample was taken from a pool of successful MBA application essays submitted to the University of California business school. Read it carefully and analyze its structure, words, and substance before you compose your own fantastic MBA essay.

aerial photo of oxford university

Sample 13: University of OXFORD business school MBA essay

If Oxford Business School is your target destiny for earning your MBA, then check out this outstanding application essay. The person who wrote it managed to grab the admission committee member’s attention.

Sample 14: London Business School MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to the London Business School. The school’s admission consultant shared this sample as a reference to other MBA aspirants. This piece will specifically help you understand the tone, writing style, formatting, and overall flow of the MBA application essay that meets the school’s standards.

Sample 15: A goal-oriented MBA application essay

Sometimes the MBA admission portal may demand an essay specifically focused on your future goals. In such a case, you must be very sure about yourself and must convey your goals and future directions based on your experiences and planning. Check out this sample to get an idea of how a successful candidate writes about personal goals.

Sample 16: Executive MBA essay

This successful MBA application essay was submitted to the MIT Sloan Executive MBA Program. EMBA essay requires you to show strong potential, impact, leadership, and the ultimate need for the program. Read this essay if EMBA is on your horizon.

making a video essay

Sample 17: MBA video essay

Many business schools are turning to video-based essays for MBA applications. A video-based essay is a better option to express yourself directly to the admission committee. A successful candidate for the Kellogg School of Management submitted this sample. Listen to the video and appreciate how beautifully the applicant has explained his journey from beginning to end. Want to learn more about video MBA essays? Here is a complete guide.

Sample 18: Short-answer-based MBA application essay

Some business schools require candidates to respond to short questions to get insights into their personalities and suitability for the MBA program. More or less, most of the questions revolve around the same theme. The key to success is to grasp the intention of the admission committee behind the questions and to stick to your identity . These successful answers submitted to the Tepper School of Business will help you in formulating your answers.

Sample 19: MIT Sloan School of Management

This essay was submitted by a successful candidate for the MIT Sloan School of Management MBA program. See how this applicant smartly answered the essay questions.

Sample 20:  Michigan Ross School of Business MBA program

The Michigan Ross Business School asks a diverse range of questions from candidates to analyze their competencies from multiple perspectives. If Michigan Ross is where you intend to get your MBA, this essay submitted by a candidate who got admitted to the school’s MBA program will help keep you on track.

What Should be Included in the MBA Application Essay?

  • Your background: What shaped you into what you are now? Including ethnicity, obstacles, and struggles.
  • Self-reflection: Your values, characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Your goals : How do you envision your future?
  • Aspirations: Why MBA is important to you and how this program will help you in shaping your future?
  • Justification: If you have low academic grades, explain the reasons you did not do well and what you learned from it.
  • Experience and achievements: What have you achieved so far?

These are the significant components of an MBA essay. Just adjust the sequence, play with words, and come up with a persuasive yet realistic picture of yourself.

mba applicant thinking what to write in her essay

What Makes a Great MBA Application Essay?

  • Be school-specific. Explain why you are passionate about the MBA program of the school to which you’re applying.
  • Avoid edition. Write simply and engagingly. Let the reader read a meaningful story about you.
  • Make it 100% typo-free. Grammatical errors and typos will ruin your essay. Apply standard essay format and structure guidelines , scan your piece several times for errors, get it reviewed by an expert, and present a very professional piece to the admission committee.
  • Be original. Do not copy-paste from any source. Strictly follow plagiarism guidelines.
  • Write an overwhelming introduction to urge the reader to keep reading and conclude your essay with a strong declaration.
  • Be authentic. Write what you are, not what the committee wants to read.
  • Be concise, as many schools impose a limit on the essay word count .

Do you want more tips? Here is a complete guide to writing a compelling MBA application essay.

The application essay is a core part of the admission process in the increasingly competitive MBA program. If you do not want to miss the chance of getting selected, you need to know what will make your essay stand out . The expert-vetted list of MBA application essay samples we cited here worked for the top business schools. Learn them by heart, and who knows, it may work for you too. Put your other activities aside, read and analyze the list carefully, and start writing your MBA essay to land in your dream business school.

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Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

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