Kellogg Video Essay: Practice Here

I Overview of Kellogg Video Essays
II Common Kellogg Video Essay Questions
III Practice giving a Kellogg Video Essay: Online Record & Playback
IV Tips on Lighting, Clothing & Location Selection

I Overview of Kellogg Video Essays

If you’re looking for my MBA essay analysis for Kellogg’s regular essay set, visit this page.

Why do you think MBAs are so sought after by employers? Why are they able to command the salaries they do? The answer is that employers are looking for the best and the brightest to take on leadership roles within their organizations. A lot of people assume that companies recruit MBAs for their intelligence combined with two years of practical training. While that’s partly true, the reality is that MBAs aren’t the ‘smartest’ people out there in absolute (there are a myriad of grad and PhD students out there that far surpass the average MBA in raw intelligence). Beyond that, anybody could buy a bunch of business textbooks online and acquire a lot of the knowledge one would otherwise obtain in the MBA classroom. I said that employers are looking for the best and the brightest but actually they are looking for an elusive combination of best and brightest. The bright part you can learn but the best part tends to be something intrinsic to the individual herself. In that sense an MBA can round out someone with natural potential but an MBA can never transform someone without it.

Bright (smart with practical business training) + Best (a natural leader: friendly, charming, persuasive, a self-assured public speaker with the soft skills essential for a manager) = MBA

Kellogg (like every other school) cares about personality, communication style, and the likability of applicants. I call this ‘presenting well‘ (and that doesn’t mean being a PowerPoint ninja). Most schools screen for this during their interview process. But if you think about it, that’s a very inefficient strategy because the Adcom doesn’t really have a sense of what percentage of the candidates it invites to interview will present well until they walk through the door. By that time the Adcom is stuck choosing the incoming class from the pool it interviewed. Maybe 80% will present well, maybe only 30% will. Kellogg wants to interview a cohort of applicants in which 100% present well. That’s why Kellogg is pre-screening applicants via the video essay. NYU Stern does the same thing via their Personal Expression Essay. Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan do it via their optional multimedia essays.

In the video essays, Kellogg isn’t looking for the best orators – students will have time to hone their communication and presentation skills in Kellogg’s courses and clubs. Likewise, they are not looking for any particular opinion or response. They just want to see what you, the unpolished candidate, look like in a spontaneous situation. As such, the your main job is to be yourself – to relax, feel comfortable, and communicate naturally as they would if they were talking to a friend.

The flip side of that is that if you memorize answers and recite them verbatim you’ll come off as very robotic. I had a candidate one year that wrote out, word for word, and then memorized answers to every question the Adcom could possibly put to him during an interview. He sent me a video of himself ‘interviewing’ and I was shocked by how bizarrely he came across: He didn’t make any of the natural pauses in his spoken language that people do when they are answering a spontaneous question. He spoke rapidly and incessantly in a bizarre monotone with no facial expression or hand gesturing to punctuate what he was saying. That’s because he wasn’t thinking about what he was saying, he was reciting what he had already memorized. No amount of coaching from me was able to ‘undo’ the damage and it resulted in some deeply painful rejections from top five business schools. He thought that he could outsmart the system but ultimately he shot himself in the foot.

Here’s what Kellogg’s Adcom tells us about their video essay:
The Video Essays provide applicants with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. Each applicant will complete two short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper. After submitting a completed application, each applicant will be asked to complete two Video Essay Questions. One will be about the candidate’s interest in Kellogg and the other will be a “getting to know you” type of question.

Here’s what you need to know about Kellogg’s video essay:
After you submit your application to Kellogg, the video essay will become available to you in your Kellogg applicant dashboard. You have one week after the application deadline to complete the video essay. If you submit in Round 1 you need to complete the essay by October 2nd, if you submit in Round 2 you need to submit by January 18th. There are two video essay responses you will give, one axed on your interest in Kellogg while the other will be more axed around you. Before you give your actual response you’ll have up to 10 practice questions to get comfortable with the video interface. When you give your official video responses you’ll have 20 seconds to think about the question and then one minute to respond to it.

Back to top: Outline

II Common Kellogg Video Essay Questions

If you’re looking for my MBA essay analysis for Kellogg’s regular essay set, visit this page.

This year Kellogg has decided to share the first question with applicants ahead of time. The Kellogg question is:

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

This is the typical Career Goals/Why MBA? question condensed down into a one-minute format. Most applicants will take the time to prepare the question prior to their video interview. Here is how you might structure that response.

  • Goals: State your short & long term goals. Give an example or two of the type of company you’d like to work at post-MBA as well as the role you hope to interview for.
  • Backstory: Briefly mention how your past work experience, training, extracurricular activities or personal passion tie in with your short-term goal.
  • Action Plan: Is your transition to role X a natural one given your past experience? For most people the answer is: not completely. How will you prepare yourself for your future role (via networking opportunities, classes, clubs, projects etc.)?
  • Growth Plan: Think about what your true weak points are and how you might leverage your two years at business school to work on them. Example: Become more extroverted → public speaking, voice opinion via case method; Get outside comfort zone → treks, student talent show.
  • Cultural: What about Kellogg really resonates with you? What excites you? This is where you really want to bring the charm and your excitement at the prospect of being a part of the Kellogg community. Mention one thing you might gain and one thing you might contribute.

Kellogg’s second video essay question will be axed around you. Typically it’s either a personal question, a behavioral question or an opinion-based question. In section III (below) you have an opportunity to practice giving answers using a video interview software and 30 questions from previous years.

III Practice giving a Kellogg Video Essay: Record & Playback

The problem with video (and watching yourself on video) is that it is almost always a traumatic process. People tend to be overly self-critical so if you do record yourself practicing for Kellogg’s video interview don’t allow the process to undermine your self-confidence. Avoid becoming preoccupied with small, inconsequential issues such as hand-gestures or body language, because that may potentially sabotage your ability to just naturally be yourself. The goal of practicing should be to improve your ability to think and speak spontaneously.

kellogg video essay practice

So here’s the cool part! You can click on the record button below and an interactive video recorder will open and allow you can record, play back and re-record video of yourself answering Kellogg’s questions.

Your browser doesn't support Adobe Flash, sorry.

Please install Adobe Flash plugin. Get Flash Player.

Uploading...

0%
Problems recording a video?
Please paste correct name
Please paste correct email
Please paste correct phone number
Please paste date of birth
Please paste location
Please select language
Please write message
Please fill this field
Please fill this field
Please fill this field

* required field

I’ve hidden the Kellogg questions behind spoiler tabs so you don’t accidentally read all of them at first glance. There are 2 questions in every section. Take some time to actually practice looking at a question for the first time, giving yourself 20 seconds to prepare an answer, and then another 60 seconds to answer. Then go back and watch the video of yourself.

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

Goals: State your short & long term goals. Give an example or two of the type of company you’d like to work at post-MBA as well as the role you hope to interview for.
Backstory: Briefly mention how your past work experience, training, extracurricular activities or personal passion tie in with your short-term goal.
Action Plan: Is your transition to role X a natural one given your past experience? For most people the answer is: not completely. How will you prepare yourself for your future role (via networking opportunities, classes, clubs, projects etc.)?
Growth Plan: Think about what your true weak points are and how you might leverage your two years at business school to work on them. Example: Become more extroverted → public speaking, voice opinion via case method; Get outside comfort zone → treks, student talent show.
Cultural: What about Kellogg really resonates with you? What excites you? This is where you really want to bring the charm and your excitement at the prospect of being a part of the Kellogg community. Mention one thing you might gain and one thing you might contribute.

  • Personal Questions I
    1. Tell us about how you overcame a weakness.
    2. Tell us about how you overcame an obstacle.
  • Personal Questions II
    3. If your friends and coworkers both had to describe you, what would they agree on?
    4. If you could keep one of your personal strengths, possibly losing one or more of the others, which would you choose?
  • Personal Questions III
    5. Tell us how you mentor someone.
    6. What kind of a team player are you?
  • Personal Questions IV
    7. Give me 3 adjectives your classmates could describe you as after you graduate
    8. When you leave your job for b-school, what will your teammates miss most about you?
  • Personal Questions V
    9. What do you like least about your current job?
    10. Tell us about someone you admire, and why.
  • Behavioral Questions I
    1. Give me an example of a difficult situation you faced in a team?
    2. Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a colleague and how did you handle it?
  • Behavioral Questions II
    3. Tell me about a time that you were disappointed with the results of a project.
    4. Tell us about a time when your idea was challenged.
  • Behavioral Questions III
    5. Tell us about a time when you had to describe a difficult concept to someone.
    6. Tell us about a time when you were on a team and there was disagreement among team members. What did you do?
  • Behavioral Questions IV
    7. Tell us about a time you realized your life was on the wrong course, either personally or professionally, and took steps to change your path.
    8. Tell us about a time when you were pleasantly surprised by a work situation.
  • Behavioral Questions V
    9. Tell us about a time when you were frustrated at work.
    10. Please describe a creative solution that you have come up with for a problem.
  • Opinion Questions I
    1. Tell us your view on the following statement: “Leadership is a lost art form in today’s business world.”
    2. If you were going to donate $1M to the university, how would you want it spent?
  • Opinion Questions II
    3. What industry do you think is on the verge of a meltdown?
    4. Tell us, in your view, one downside for business due to globalization.
  • Opinion Questions III
    5. Tell us what you think about the following: “Non-profits struggle precisely because there is no focus on profits.
    6. Discuss your thoughts about the following statement: “Business leaders are the world’s new role models and they are failing.”

Download Additional Kellogg Video Essay Questions


Back to top: Outline

IV Kellogg Video Essay Tips on Lighting, Clothing & Location Selection

Three-point Lighting Set-up
You can use a couple of floor lights and perhaps a clamp or desk light to achieve this lighting set-up. You’ll need two key lights and one fill light. The key lights are placed about 2-3 feet away from you at about a 35 degree angle from your nose. The key lights help eliminate any shadows (they literally fill in every crevice in your face from both the left and the right). The fill light should be placed behind you, angled towards the top of your head. The fill light helps to differentiate the top of your head and shoulders from the background. Without it people look more two-dimensional on film. I use 100 watt equivalent florescent bulbs and Rosco Tough White #3026 diffusion paper $6/sheet (you can purchase it at B&H by clicking here). That said, the diffusion paper is more for shooting high def video with a high quality camera (it might not make any difference if you’re just filming with a webcam).

You can learn more about three-point lighting by watching this video produced by the folks at Wistia.com.

Three Point Lighting setup

Kellogg Video Essay: Background & Location

dont do thisWhatever background or location you choose, I’d advise you to stay away from windows altogether because it can cause overexposure and other lighting problems. Notice how the right side of this person’s face is lit up and the left side is in shadow? That’s because of the window behind him.

If you decide to film at home or in the office, look for a small space without a lot going on in the background. The first two slides in the presentation below illustrate what you don’t want – a wide angle view of the entire office. Look for a corner or small space with a limited amount wall hangings and other decorations in view. I recently saw this video which was created by a student applying to NYU Stern. The picture is from the video. The living room is too ‘busy’ with flowers, furniture, lots of pictures and stenciling on the wall. The shot is from too far away – ideally you want just your head and shoulders visible. Finally the candidate’s shirt looks disheveled – I feel like he just ate a turkey dinner and had to undo a few buttons :/

 

I’d highly suggest buying a roll of Savage Seamless Background Paper for $10 here. You’re going to need 53″ x 12 yards (no more and no less). Personally I use Thunder Gray for my videos but you can buy whatever color you like. Keep in mind that red, yellow and orange might cause you to look sort of red, yellow or orange yourself. If you want to play it safe go for any shade of gray, blue, purple or beige. Below you’ll find examples of some of the colors Savage offers. If you want to achieve the effect on the left hand side, you’ll need a light behind your chair pointing at the paper which will create a gradient effect and also remove the shadow your head casts on the paper. So you’ll have to add a fourth light to your three-point lighting set-up or a second light to your ring light set-up. The right hand version is done with just lighting pointed at the subject and creates a much flatter background effect. Either is fine.

Kellogg Video Essay: What to wear?

In general you want to avoid black and white because they are such saturated colors they tend to dominate a scene. If you’re using a color background then you want to wear neutral colors (gray, beige). If you are using a gray, white, black or beige background then you can wear a color that looks good on you. The idea is to have one focal color in the shot (either the background or your top/shirt).

Ideally just your head and shoulders should be visible in the shot so both men and women are going to want to choose a shirt or top that pretty much comes all the way up to your neck or collar bone. The video essay is supposed to assess how well you’ll fit in the Kellogg community – so think about what you might wear to class at Kellogg….probably something nice but casual right? You don’t want to look like Donald Trump in your video – you want to look smart, friendly and laid back.

Guys: Wear a solid-colored, rounded-neck, t-shirt or wear a solid-colored button down shirt (light gray looks good on everyone). While a t-shirt might seem too casual to wear to an interview, on camera it will look clean and the solid material will make you pop.  I’d ditch the suit jacket and tie because honestly there won’t be enough of it in the shot and it’s just going to add yet another color to the mix.

Ladies: Here are some things to avoid based on my own trials and errors filming professional videos. Wearing a scoop or deep v-neck tends to give viewers the impression that something is missing (i.e. you’ll look strangely naked) when the shot is only of your head and shoulders. Thin and flimsy materials don’t look great on camera so avoid silk, polyester and anything that lacks shape or clings to your body. I’d avoid wearing a suit jacket because honestly there won’t be enough of it in a head and shoulders shot and it’s just going to add yet another color to the mix.

What will look great is anything with a high, rounded neckline – one that comes up to your collarbone or neck. You’ll look great in a rounded-neck, solid colored t-shirt. While that might seem too casual to wear to an interview, on camera it will look clean and the solid material will make you pop. Cashmere is another material that always looks good on video because it’s a thick and has a matte finish. A solid-colored button down shirt would also be a good choice.

 

Back to top