INSEAD MBA Interview Overview.
Sign up for an INSEAD MBA Mock Interview.
Examples of INSEAD MBA Interview Questions.

INSEAD MBA Interview Overview.

Invitation-Only Interviews.

The INSEAD admissions committee will invite a limited number of applicants to interview for its MBA program during the 2021-22 MBA application season. Top MBA programs like INSEAD generally interview 2-3 applicants for every available place in their upcoming MBA class. While an invite is already a great sign that you stand a chance of securing an admit, remember that you’re now part of a highly competitive subset of the overall applicant pool. I recommend preparing for your interview with the help of this guide and, optionally, the Mock Interview Service.

Tip: If you’re wondering if interview invites have already gone out for the 2021-22 application season, I recommend checking out the MBA LiveWire for real-time updates.

Where? Off-campus. With Whom? Two interviews with two different alumni.

INSEAD is unusual in that its MBA applicants interview with two separate alumni. At INSEAD, MBA interviews are conducted by alumni and take place off-campus (usually at the alumnus’ or alumna’s office or in a nearby restaurant/coffee shop.

Blind Interviews*.

During the 2021-22 MBA application season, the INSEAD MBA program will be conducting blind interviews. A blind MBA interview is one in which the interviewer has not read the applicant’s MBA application (recommendations, essays, short answers etc.). What the interviewer does have access to is the applicant’s resume (and, if they decide to do an internet search, the applicant’s LinkedIn profile or any other biographical information on the web such as an ‘about me’ page on a organizational or community website).

That gives the MBA applicant free range to weave stories and material from their application into the interview. If the MBA interview is in-person, applicants should bring a paper copy of their resume to the interview location as a courtesy to the interviewer. If the interview takes place online then applicants should have a PDF copy of their resume handy should the interview request that it be sent via email. Oftentimes busy MBA interviewers won’t have spent much time reviewing the applicant’s resume before the interview. That’s why INSEAD MBA applicants should be ready to give their interviewer a 2-minute overview of who they are at the beginning of the meeting (note that this is often the first interview question anyway, ‘So tell me about yourself…‘).

* INSEAD alumni interviewers do reportedly have access to an applicant’s full application but in practice they seem to rarely read the application before the interview. So in practice we treat INSEAD as a ‘blind interview’.

Influence of interview on admissions decision? Low to Moderate.

The reality is that a successful interview will not help an applicant secure an admit to INSEAD’s upcoming MBA class, but a failed interview can hurt an applicant (i.e. result in a ding). Not obvious at first blush, below, interested readers can delve into an explanation of why that is.

Imagine you’re the INSEAD MBA Admissions Committee. For the 2021-22 MBA application season you’ve secured more than 100 alumni volunteers, scattered across the globe, conducting MBA admissions interviews for INSEAD. Jane concludes in her report to the admissions committee that MBA applicant #1 is ‘great‘ and Bill reports in that another applicant, applicant #2, is ‘a good fit‘. You (the INSEAD MBA admissions committee) only have one place left to fill in the upcoming MBA class. Which applicant would you choose?

It will be a very difficult choice because with so many different interviewers, it’s impossible for you (the INSEAD MBA admissions committee) to quality control the process and make good use of the qualitative feedback you receive from interviewers. After all, what’s the difference between a ‘good fit’ and a ‘great’ applicant? The truth is that the admissions committee is really only interested in one question: Would this applicant make for a great classmate at our school? Is this person a good fit with our school culture? and conversely, Are this person’s attitudes and manner of comporting himself at odds with the INSEAD culture? i.e. Is this person a jerk (insert adjective of your choice here)?

A successful 2021-22 MBA interview at INSEAD is one in which you persuade your alumni interviewer that ‘Yes!’ you would be a great classmate and you are a fit with the culture. This won’t help the application per se, but it won’t hurt it either (which is the important thing). If instead you fail to convince the alumnus that you are a great fit, and on top of that do something to actively put him or her off, then it can seriously hurt your application. Nobody wants to recruit a jerk to campus.

I hope that my explanation makes sense to you and sheds light on the student or alumni-led MBA interview which always carries less weight in the decision process than an admissions committee or staff-led interview (where quality control is possible and results an be normalized). At schools with student or alumni-led interviews the written application takes on greater importance. MBA programs with student or alumni-led interviews include: Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, INSEAD, Kellogg, London Business School, Michigan Ross, Stanford, UCLA Anderson, Wharton, and Yale.

At the other end of the spectrum, schools that rely on a small group of trained admissions committee members or staff to conduct interviews. At these MBA programs the interview plays a greater role in the admissions process (relative to student or alumni-led interviews). MBA programs with admissions committee-led interviews include: Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, UVA Darden and NYU Stern.

Sign up for an INSEAD MBA Mock Interview.

Below you can listen to a former client receive feedback on his answer to Why an MBA?. You can earn more about my Mock Interview Service here ($150 for 1.5-hour session).

Listen to an excerpt from a mock interview. Question: Why an MBA?

While each MBA program has a slightly different approach to the types of questions asked in interview, generally speaking there are no big surprises. The goal of your INSEAD MBA interviewer isn’t to throw you curve balls but to offer up questions that give you the opportunity to highlight your professional and personal accomplishments, your strengths/weaknesses, your goals, your decision to pursue an MBA and why INSEAD is of interest to you in particular.

When faced with an impending interview, you may be tempted to scour the internet and amass an exhaustive list of interview questions. What will you do with all those questions? Most INSEAD MBA interviewees will think through answers to each and every one in their head. Sometimes they’ll write out their exact answers on paper and then practice them verbatim. The problem with those strategies is that the first one isn’t very efficient and then second one will leave you sounding robotic when you rattle off your answer out loud.

When I work with INSEAD MBA applicants during a mock interview session, we focus on developing answers to a few specific questions (like Tell me about yourself? What are your goals? Why MBA? Why school X?). We then use other questions (Strengths/Weakness?) and behavioral questions (Tell me about a time when…?) to develop a core set of stories. It might surprise you to learn that most people have just 4-6 core stories. That’s because with just a few core stories clients learn to answer multiple interview questions.

At a minimum I would suggest that you prepare the following questions for the INSEAD MBA interview:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your short-term goals and how can INSEAD help you achieve those goals?
  3. Where do you see yourself long-term?
  4. What would you get involved in at INSEAD (outside the MBA classroom)?
  5. What would others say are your two core strengths and one area for improvement (weakness)?
  6. Why do you want an international career?
  7. + Prepare stories for at least 2-3 behavioral questions of your choice. An example would be: Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a goal you set. Tell me about a time when you worked with someone from a different cultural background.
  8. Could you tell me about a trend in your industry or the XYZ industry.
  9. + Prepare two solid questions for the interviewer.

Examples of INSEAD MBA Interview Questions.

Below you’ll find mock interview sequences from INSEAD MBA interviews. Studying the sequences will give you a sense of what sort of questions tend to come up.

INSEAD MBA Mock Interview Questions 1
  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are your short term/long term goals?
  3. What exactly attracts you to operational management and specifically in Asia given that your experience to date has been in Europe?
  4. Have you had any difficult cultural experiences being European and working in Europe? Do you anticipate any in Asia?
  5. What is something that your colleagues/clients really like about you?
  6. What is your leadership style?
  7. (Behavioral Question) Can you tell me about a time when a team member was underperforming? What did you do?
  8. What do you like to do for fun?
  9. Any questions for me?
INSEAD MBA Mock Interview Questions 2
  1. Can you walk me through your work experience?
  2. What did the Innovation Team you were a part of do during the merger?
  3. It seems like you’re on a really great career track at your current employer. Why leave for an MBA?
  4. Why INSEAD specifically and which non-academic activities would you pursue at INSEAD?
  5. (Behavioral Question) Can you tell me about a time when more than one person in a group wanted to lead the group or project? (i.e. several people competing for one leadership role)
  6. Can you talk about your leadership responsibilities within the projects you manage?
  7. Can you tell me about a company you admire and why?
  8. What is your proudest accomplishment?
  9. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you wish you could get in a time machine, go back, and have a ‘do over’. (i.e. change history)
  10. (asked in second language) How would you compare North American culture to Spanish culture?
  11. (asked in second language) Do you have any questions for me?
INSEAD MBA Mock Interview Questions 3
  1. Walk me through your resume.
  2. Why did you opt for the international rotational program? How did you adjust to a new culture so quickly?
  3. What is your secret to managing others? (Question is akin to, Tell me about your leadership style.)
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? in 15 years?
  5. Why an MBA now, if you really want to be an entrepreneur you could start your own business without one?
  6. Why INSEAD?
  7. What is the most challenging part of your current job?
  8. What is your international experience?
  9. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you had to convince someone senior to you of your idea.
  10. Could you tell me about the extracurricular project/activity that you are most passionate about?
  11. Can I answer any questions about INSEAD for you?
INSEAD MBA Mock Interview Questions 4
  1. Tell me about your background.
  2. What are your short-term goals?
  3. Why an MBA? Why INSEAD?
  4. What professors and activities are you drawn to in INSEAD?
  5. Why not London Business Schoool or HEC?
  6. Explain the business model of the startup you would like to build.
  7. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict in the workplace.
  8. How do you find time to do all that you do? Could you tell me more about your work with the ABC Foundation?
  9. Could you share one strength and one weakness with me?
  10. What question do you wish I would have asked you?
  11. Any questions for me?
INSEAD MBA Mock Interview Questions 5
  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What was your gap year in South America like? There must be a lot of differences between Argentina and Canada.
  3. How have your nonprofit experiences shaped your career goals?
  4. Do you think you will benefit from an INSEAD MBA even if most people in your class have a more traditional business background? (i.e. a background different from the candidate’s)
  5. ’s program given that not many of your classmates will have a similar background to you?
  6. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you led a team of peers (i.e. without direct authority).
  7. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you didn’t have all the resources you needed to complete a project or task.
  8. How do you handle situations when you have to think on your feet (little time to prepare)?
  9. Are you considering other MBA programs or alternative graduate programs?
  10. You mentioned that you interviewed at Yale’s MBA program. Yale has a much stronger nonprofit program than INSEAD. Why would you choose INSEAD over Yale (assuming you were admitted to both programs)?
  11. What do you like to read and what is one trend that you’ve been reading/thinking about recently?
  12. What do you hope to get out of your INSEAD experience?
  13. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have!
INSEAD Mock Interview 6
  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. Why an MBA? Why INSEAD?
  3. Why not do an MBA in India (the candidate currently lives in India and plans to return to his home country)?
  4. What are your short term and long-term goals.
  5. Please describe two strengths and two weaknesses?
  6. Have you managed people and what did you enjoy about it? dislike about it?
  7. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you coached someone.
  8. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when a team you were a part of was underperforming.
  9. Any questions for me?

About Leah Derus

Leah helps people craft stories that move their careers forward. A former Fulbright scholar with a Bachelor's in Psychology from La Sorbonne and an MBA from MIT Sloan, Leah spent the first part of her career in recruiting and marketing. Book a free consultation with Leah

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