INSEAD Interview Preparation – Part 1: About the INSEAD Interview

INSEAD Inteview Preparation - Part 1 : About the INSEAD interview

INSEAD Interviews are conducted with the students and alumni of INSEAD. This is a stark difference from other top business schools where interviews are conducted with Admissions Committee members. In fact, often an INSEAD interview is a blind interview. This implies that the interviewer might not have been through your profile completely before taking your interview. All of this just goes to show the importance and strong connect INSEAD has with it’s alumni network.

In this two part series of blog posts, we share helpful information, tips and advice to prepare for your INSEAD interview. 

The first part, i.e; this blog post, mainly deals with the information about an INSEAD interview that you must know before starting to actually prepare for the interview.

The second part, i.e; the next blog post, focuses specifically on the INSEAD interview questions, previous INSEAD interview experiences and the preparation strategy and tips for your INSEAD interview.

1. Date of INSEAD interviews:

INSEAD intakes for a year happen in 2 rounds. The September round and the December round. INSEAD publicly shares the dates for rolling out interview invites for both of the rounds.

However, considering historical evidence of previous years, INSEAD has been known to start rolling out interview invites at least a week before the given deadline.

Your interview invite contains the names of your interviewers, their contact details a deadline for getting your interviews conducted. You’re supposed to contact your interviewers and schedule your interviews before this deadline.

2. The INSEAD interview invite

Just for reference, this is what the actual interview invite looks like. Getting this email is an equally thrilling and nerve wrecking experience.

3. Location of the INSEAD interview

None of the INSEAD interviews happen on the INSEAD campus. INSEAD has a wide network of alumni across the globe. This gives them the capability to match you with an alumni from the same city as yours (or from somewhere nearby)

You and the interviewer are free to decide the exact location of the interview. Of course this depends more on the interviewer’s choice than yours. Applicants have reported being interviewed at the private offices of the interviewers and even at cafes and restaurants.

4. Format of the INSEAD interview

INSEAD tries to pair you with one recent alumni and another senior alumni. The recent alumni tries to judge your fit with INSEAD and the senior alumni focuses more on your motivation behind doing an MBA and your career progression. INSEAD is also known to pair you with one interviewer who comes from the same background as yours and another interviewer from a completely different background for diversity purposes.

The tone of the interview depends on your interviewer’s personality, what they do professionally and also the location of the interview. Some interviews are more ‘casual’, especially with the recent alumni or if they are being done at a coffee shop. Other interviews could be more ‘formal’ if conducted at an office or with a senior alumni.

The flow of interview questions is highly unpredictable. But most interviews start with the common questions, “Walk me through your resume” or “Tell me about yourself”. This conversation then proceeds to the trinity of the MBA interview questions – Why MBA, Why INSEAD and Why now? Questions are also asked about your professional work experience and personal hobbies and interests. Finally, there are also questions that focus on assessing whether you have the qualities INSEAD is looking for – Leadership, International motivation, etc. (more on this in part 2)

INSEAD doesn’t provide a specific set of questions to the interviewers. However, it asks for their comments on specific criteria of the applicant’s profile: Career progression, motivation, etc. After the interview, the interviewer is supposed to report back to the admissions committee with these comments within 48 hours.


5. How long do the INSEAD interviews last?

There is no specific time duration of an INSEAD interview. Applicants have reported interviews that lasted as short as 25 minutes to as long as 2 hours. But an average time of 45 minutes can definitely be considered.

It all depends on how the interview proceeds and how you respond to it. Since the interviewer is supposed to comment on certain specific criteria, they will definitely cover these areas in their questions. If your responses are succinct, your interview could last shorter than the average. Sometimes, applicants and interviewers get along really well and the interview (more of a discussion now) lasts even for 2 hours.


6. Other interview information

What to wear for the interview?
The simple answer is – A formal business attire. Only if your interviewer specifically mentions a casual dress code or a casual location for the interview – such as a cafe, then you could go for a semi formal attire. While there is no single correct answer, consider these factors while deciding your attire:
1. The location of the interview
2. It is a formal admission interview
3. The weather/temperature of the location of the interview and accordingly the clothes needed for being comfortable

What to carry for the interview?
It is always a good idea to carry a copy of your resume + essays or your application profile when going for an interview. If your application profile is a bit on the boring side or if it needs support of the essays to make it more appealing, then carrying a printed copy of your essays is a great strategy to get the interviewer to read your profile.

Arrive early. If possible, arrive early to the place of the interview. This helps you get physically and mentally comfortable with the place of the interview. Applicants that interviewed at a cafe have mentioned that a cafe is sometimes too loud for a formal interview. This can be prevented or at at least it’s effect can be minimized if you reach early and assess the location properly.



Part 2: INSEAD Interview experiences, interview questions, preparation strategy and tips.

Now that you know enough about the INSEAD interview, we can actually focus on preparing for it.

The part 2 of this series, i.e; the next blog post focuses on that.

We first cover the INSEAD interview experiences shared by past applicants. This gives you a better idea of what to expect in the final interview and you can visualize your own interview after that.

Next, we share tips and preparation strategy for the interview that can help you get a successful admit.

Finally, we also share a spreadsheet of 50+ INSEAD interview questions that we have compiled from our research. These questions have been categorized into different types based on the intent behind the question. We have also mentioned the tips shared by successful admits for preparing answers to these interview questions. With this spreadsheet, you can conduct a self preparation exercise where you flesh out the spreadsheet with answers, anecdotes and notes for each question asked.

This will help you get a better understanding of your MBA profile and you will be able to map your profile as per the INSEAD interviewer’s expectations.


Edited at MBA SAGE
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