Interviews at INSEAD are ‘by invitation only,’ meaning that the Admissions Office extends invitations to selected applicants after reading their application—and only those invited applicants can schedule interviews.
At INSEAD, admissions interviews are ‘application-driven,’ meaning that the interviewer will have reviewed the candidate’s entire application at least once before the interview and will use that information to customize the conversation. Therefore, the interview could include very specific questions about the applicant’s work history, target industry, educational background, or essay content. In addition to providing clarification on whatever topics the interviewer raises, applicants should seek to add new information beyond what is covered in their application, such as additional stories, recent accomplishments, or further reflections.
Where? Only off-campus.
INSEAD offers off-campus, face-to-face interviews for all applicants who are invited for interviews by engaging the school’s alumni network around the world. Depending on the specific arrangements, these interviews could be conducted in a more public place, like a coffee shop, or at the interviewer’s place of business. Note that while INSEAD tries to interview all applicants in their countries of residence, some applicants may need to travel to a neighboring country for their interviews.
With Whom? Usually, two alumni.
INSEAD alumni conduct all of the school’s interviews. According to past clients and the INSEAD admissions committee, applicants are typically matched with two alumni—one who has a similar background to the applicant and one with a different background. These individuals are graduates who have volunteered to perform this task and who have received some guidelines from the Admissions Office about how to conduct the interviews, including which or what kinds of questions to ask.
INSEAD MBA Interview Experience.
Clients who interviewed with INSEAD in the past few years consistently described their interview experience with the school as ‘friendly,’ ‘conversational,’ and ‘approachable.’ INSEAD is not interested in putting candidates on the spot or trying to stump them, but rather in making sure that applicants have a solid grasp of the ways the MBA program would benefit them and how they would fit with the school’s community.
Here is a sample of what past clients have told us about their interview experience at INSEAD:
Both interviews were very conversational and fairly casual. Heavily focused on my resume and experiences, wanting me to expand upon experiences (ie leadership,challenges). Both interviewers clearly had fond memories and still strong ties to INSEAD. They dove into experience with profs, courses, classmates and really emphasized how much they believe in the school and the strength of the alumn ibase (and how they’re still connected). As you are potentially another future alumni, they want to see leadership potential in you, and how well you fit. With both interviewers it was far from a one directional, formal interview. I would ask questions throughout about their experiences at INSEAD, their current jobs,hobbies, and career progression, which they were more than happy to share.
Both interviews were very conversational and fairly casual. Heavily focused on my resume and experiences, wanting me to expand upon experiences (i.e. leadership, challenges). Both interviewers clearly had fond memories and still strong ties to INSEAD. They dove into experience with profs, courses, classmates and really emphasized how much they believe in the school and the strength of the alumni base (and how they’re still connected). As you are potentially another future alumni, they want to see leadership potential in you, and how well you fit. Withboth interviewers it was far from a one directional, formal interview. I would ask questions throughout about their experiences at INSEAD, their current jobs,hobbies, and career progression, which they were more than happy to share.
The interviewer seemed concerned about my age, andthat threw me off. Be prepared to address any weaknesses the intervieweridentifies – on the spot – so he won’t write in into the evaluation form hesubmits. He did say he would write a glowing recommendation for me, but to beprepared that I might receive bad news because of my young age. I sensed thathe didn’t think his interview was the end-all because the admissions will reevaluatethe entire class profile before sending out acceptances.
Just know your application—do the practice interview! The practice interview was actually a lot more intense than the actual interview because it was question after question, whereas during the actual interview, we often just talked about random stuff and then went back tosome interview questions, so you have time to breathe. Also, you can kind of work in answers to the unasked questions during the conversation in a more natural way, versus question-answer-question-answer. Really be prepared to defend why you actually need an MBA for your next career step!
Preparing for your INSEAD MBA Interview.
Although the focus and style of INSEAD’s admissions interviews can vary, you should expect to be asked about your personal, professional, and academic experiences and – in most cases – will receive questions meant to reveal your knowledge about the school.
INSEAD’s interviews typically start with an open-ended question or prompt, such as ‘Tell me about yourself.’ This is your opportunity to offer a comprehensive overview of your profile and to touch on – very briefly – some of your major accomplishments, both professional and personal.
Our interview reports for INSEAD indicate that ‘Why an MBA?’ and ‘Why now?’ are topics that the school’s interviews often include, in addition to other career goals questions.
INSEAD interviews consistently include very school-specific questions. Past clients noted that they were asked some variation of the question ‘Why INSEAD?’ and often other INSEAD-related queries as well. If you are not ready to answer these types of questions in detail, you must invest the time necessary to get to know INSEAD thoroughly and to identify the programs, centers, clubs, classes, professors, extracurricular opportunities, and other resources it offers that relate directly to your plans and your personality.
INSEAD wants to hear specifics about your professional accomplishments and leadership potential, so be prepared to provide detailed information and stories in these subject areas beyond what is presented in your resume.
Finally, because INSEAD is trying to gauge candidates’ ‘fit’ with its community, the interview could include personal questions to help the interviewer evaluate whether you would be a good match.
Mock interviews can be particularly helpful way to prepare for your interview. Try using a timer to get a sense of how long you typically take to answer each question, and practice in front of a mirror. Don’t want to go it alone? Learn more about my Mock Interview Service here.
INSEAD MBA Interview Questions.
Although you can never be certain which questions you will receive, and questions will undoubtedly vary to some degree, these samples serve to illustrate how a INSEAD interview is likely to progress.
INSEAD Mock Interview 1
- Tell me about yourself. (Because INSEAD attracts international students, the interviewer wanted me to talk about where I was born, where I grew up, where I went to school, where I lived to emphasize my international profile. The interviewer seemed really into that.)
- How would INSEAD fit into your work experience?
- Which campus are you interested in and why?
- What are your short term/long term goals?
- What exactly attracts you to operational management and specifically in Asia? (He asked me twice to go deeper each time).
- Can you achieve your goals without an MBA?
- Have you applied to any other schools?
- Have you reached out to any alumni?
- Why is INSEAD unique?
- What would you do if you don’t get in?
- What do you do with your time outside work?
INSEAD Mock Interview 2
- Can you walk me through your work experience? How long were the rotations?
- What did the Risk and Stability Team do during the mergers?
- How do you ‘influence change’? What specifically did you do to gain support for the risk framework?
- How many times have you been promoted at the bank?
- You seem to have a strong career at the bank. Why leave for an MBA?
- Why INSEAD?
- What non-academic activities would you pursue at INSEAD?
- (Behavioral Question) Can you tell me about a conflict you had to deal with at work, and how you resolved it?
- Can you talk about your leadership responsibilities within the projects you manage?
- Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see yourself in twenty years?
- (asked in second language) Can you walk through your international experiences?
- (asked in second language) How would you compare U.S. culture to Spanish culture?
- What other schools are you applying to?
- Any questions for me?
INSEAD Mock Interview 3
- Why an MBA now, you could start your own business without one?
- What do you find most challenging about managing people?
- Why INSEAD?
- What are your short-term and long-term professional goals?
- If you were to stay at your current job, how would your role evolve over time?
- What is your international experience?
- (Behavioral Question) Describe a work project where you demonstrated leadership.
- Describe one of your extracurricular project/activity that you are most passionate about.
INSEAD Mock Interview 4
- Why INSEAD?
- Why an MBA?
- What are your short-term goals?
- Explain the business model of the venture you are interested in creating.
- How will you run the venture? What role will you play?
- What specific skills do you hope to develop while at INSEAD?
- What other schools are you applying to?
- What professors are you drawn to in INSEAD?
- It seems like you’re looking to go back to school so soon after graduating. Aren’t you a bit young to be doing an MBA?
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
INSEAD Mock Interview 5
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you feel you need to get an MBA? A lot of people start their own venture without an MBA.
- How have your nonprofit experiences shaped your career goals?
- Do you think you will get much out of INSEAD’s program given that not many of your classmates will have a similar background to you?
- How do you lead when you’re part of a team of peers?
- If you were to start your own venture, would you hire people who have the same ideas as you or would you try to shape their vision?
- How do you handle situations when you have to think on your feet (little time to prepare)?
- You mentioned that you got into [other MBA program]. That school has a much stronger nonprofit program than INSEAD. Why would you choose INSEAD over [other MBA program]?
- What do you hope to get out of your INSEAD experience?
INSEAD Mock Interview 6
- Tell me about yourself?
- Why an MBA? Why INSEAD?
- Why not do an MBA in (country where candidate currently lives)?
- What are your short term and long-term goals.
- Please describe two strengths and two weaknesses?
- Have you managed people? Did you enjoy it? What exactly is it that you enjoy?
- Which three characteristics should an entrepreneur should have? Which characteristics did the candidate have?