INSEAD MBA Essay One: Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer) 

You need to clearly answer all SEVEN parts of this question, but the areas that will differentiate you from others are “major responsibilities” and “results achieved”. In articulating the results achieved, try to show the impacts with the help of numbers. But don’t forget to mention the accomplishments that are qualitative in nature such as mentoring junior staffs and bringing them up to speed or obtaining buy-in from management after an intense negotiation. In explaining your “major responsibilities”, focus on responsibility above and beyond what is typically expected of someone at your level. Don’t just give a laundry list of items of average or minor significance.

Our Recommendation – 250 ~ 300 words

INSEAD MBA Essay Two: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer) 

Use this short answer to write in detail about the next logical step in your career. Also mention the timeline by which you might accomplish this step. You should narrate all the probable responsibilities that you have to shoulder in that job role. This answer will help the admissions committee to understand your expected career trajectory  and the necessity of an MBA education. 

Our Recommendation – 250 ~ 300 words

INSEAD MBA Essay Three: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer) 

The admission team is less interested to know about your career trajectory with all the minute details of each job role, designation and key responsibilities. They are more interested to know how you evolved as a leader over these many years. They want to understand how you have grown as a leader, developed your management skills and refined your leadership personality. Hence, articulate all the twists and turns in your path and show them clearly what influenced you to make those career choices. Ideally all the turns on the road would fit nicely into a logical theme. Even if you had to take some detours due to some unexpected reasons such as layoff or transfer to a new location in a different job role, explain how you navigated your way back to the main course. Try to dig deeper and show them your true motivations. As much as possible, show that you chose your career proactively, not passively.

Our Recommendation – 250 ~ 300 words

INSEAD MBA Essay Four: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer) 

This short answer has paramount importance for your INSEAD application.  It tells the admission committee the very reasons for which you are willing to invest tons of money and time for the INSEAD MBA program.

First, articulate your career objectives and show ADCOM what inspires you to accomplish these goals. Be specific with your reasons. For instance, if you aspire to be VP in Product Development in an IT company, tell them what inspires you to achieve that role. Have you interacted with anyone who is in a similar role? Have you got a glimpse of the activities that this role would allow you to do? Or do you believe that as a VP, you would get exposure to several activities such as strategy formulation, market positioning, competitor analysis and so on that will boost your future career. Whatever the specific reasons you have in mind, articulate that in detail. But be realistic with what you want to achieve in 5 years. Don’t say things that will sound like building castle in air.

Next is the billion dollar question – WHY INSEAD MBA?

Before you start thinking some common answers such as top ranked program, global faculty and peers, alumni network, excellent branding and so on, let me tell you that the proper way to search for an answer to this question is to ask yourself Why not IMD, London Business School, Kellogg or Columbia MBA programs. These schools will also fit into your common criteria. Now search your soul to find out why INSEAD is your #1 choice and not any other MBA program.

Show admission committee the power of your in-depth research on the program. Network with current student, alumni and the admission team. Attend any web seminars or admission events in your city and try to visit their campus in order to know as much as possible about the program. Show them how the program fits in your career plan and how it’s going to hone you as a business leader. Don’t just browse their website and talk about “excellent faculties on Strategy”, three campus location and so on. That won’t open the door of Insead for you!

Our Recommendation – 300 ~ 350 words

INSEAD MBA Essay Five: If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. (optional) 

This question may not be applicable for vast majority of applicants. However, if it is applicable for you, then you should carefully craft an effective answer.

If you are currently not working, kindly explain your circumstances to admissions committee. Then explain what are the things in which you are currently on. For instance, if you planning to launch your business, then narrate all the pre-launch activities. If you have taken a time off due to family reason, please explain why you felt the pressing need to resign from your company and spend time with your family.

Our Recommendation – 300 words

INSEAD MBA Essay One: Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words)

This is one of the golden opportunities to demonstrate your creativity and differentiate yourself from thousands of other applicants. There is no fixed formula on how many strengths and weakness you need to pick. Any permutation and combination will work as long as admissions officers get a vivid picture of your personality. Generally applicants choose 2~3 strengths and 1~2 weaknesses. One of the best ways to ascertain your strengths and weakness is to focus on the feedback that you have received from managers or senior colleagues throughout your career. Some of the applicants are quite well aware about themselves and they can select the best strengths and relevant areas of improvement. Select strengths that you want the admissions committee to notice you for. Articulate how these qualities influenced your personal development.

A caveat on weaknesses. Be honest without going overboard. Select weaknesses that you can improve upon with the help of a rigorous management curriculum in Insead. Otherwise don’t pick that weakness. For instance, don’t say that you lack punctuality. Even INSEAD’s Time Management course teaches you how to manage you time well and maintain work–life balance. But it won’t make you more punctual. Try to say some thing such as assertiveness, teamwork, delegation, mentoring, handling personality conflicts and so on that INSEAD can help you to improve.

How to be different from others in this essay?

There are few ideas that you can try out. First, many personality traits can act like strengths in some situation but become glaring weaknesses in different circumstances. For example, you may have immense determination to get things done even under the most difficult conditions. That’s a strength. Now, your immense determination to overcome obstacles may stop you from changing your course of action in some situations. That may lead to failure and others may perceive you as obstinate. Hence, the same personality trait can be a strength as well as a weakness. While giving a candid description about yourself, you can select a personal characteristic and then write suitable anecdotes to portray how it acted both as a strength and weakness under different circumstances.

If you need help on deciding your story lines and themes, talk to us!

INSEAD MBA Essay Two: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (approximately 400 words).

In just 400 words, this is quite a tall order! They have asked to address the four areas – 1) proudest achievement 2) a failure 3) the impact of both these experiences on your interpersonal relationships and 4) the lessons learnt from each incident. The sheer volume of information asked in just 400 words can test the sanity of any applicant! OK, let’s get down with the strategy!

INSEAD is asking for “extra-professional activities” in essay # 4. Hence, this is an ideal place to talk about your professional stories. You can either choose two unrelated examples for success and failure or narrate a single story with both success and failure elements in it. Some people will be fortunate to have such an example, but others will find it convenient to treat each story separately. In both cases, I recommend that you answer the achievement and failure parts within 200 words leaving the rest space for addressing impact on interpersonal relationship and lessons learnt.

One crucial reminder:

For selecting the appropriate success story, keep in mind of the motivation essay # 1. Portray a unique aspect of your leadership personality that has not been projected in describing your strengths and weakness in essay # 1. “Achievement of which you are most proud” deserves a story that is brilliant and demonstrates leadership in a global perspective. For failure story, you may pick something from your team work examples as it would be easier to showcase how it impacted your relationship with others. They are actually trying to evaluate your emotional intelligence. Hence, show admission committee your inter-personal dynamics and ability to seamlessly connect with others. Finally, please select stories from the last two to three years.

INSEAD MBA Essay Three: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities?  (approximately 300 words)

The focus of the question is not on the activities but rather on“ how are you enriched by these activities?”So you can talk about any activity as admission committee doesn’t value one activity more than the others. Hence, don’t assume that participating in group activities such as basketball will be valued more than solo activities such as reading (applicants really keep on asking this question to me again and again). It all depends how these activities have provided you in-depth perspectives on leadership and how they have given a new meaning to your life. Hence focus on activities that have really refined your leadership persona and thinking. Don’t try to cover all activities in which you have been involved since your college days. It’s just a 300 words essay. If you want to pack too much materials in it, ultimately you will convey very little about yourself to adcom.

Bottom – line: Focus on activities that have provided you lifetime lessons or changed your perspectives.

INSEAD MBA Essay Four: Is there anything else that you would like to share or to clarify further  (approximately 300 words)

Is there some aspects of your leadership personality that has not been covered anywhere in the application? This is the right place to write that. But in case of any gaps in your profile such as low GMAT, layoff and so on, you can address it here.

Keep in mind that attempting the optional essay demonstrates your seriousness. In a cut-throat globally competitive B-Schools admission process, seriousness of the applicants is one of the most important factors. In case you don’t have any gaps in career or low GMAT, this essay is another chance to portray your uniqueness. But be sure to avoid repetition!


Sandip Bhattacharya

Founder and Director of MBA Essay Consultant. Author of the best selling books such as “Admission Guide for Indian IT Applicants“, “How to Dazzle Admission Officers in MBA Interview” etc. Guided thousands of applicants globally for Full Time, Executive, Part Time and Online MBA applications.

Business School for the World
3 campuses – France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi
Ranked # 1 by FT in 2017
Fast-paced and hectic program
Oasis for career changers
Placement all across the world
Clear post-MBA career goals
Wish to be a consultant
Headed to work in a family business


September 2018 Intake


Round 1


Round 2


Round 3


Round 4
January 2019 Intake


Round 1


Round 2


Round 3


Round 4



Class Size (2018 Batch)

Average Age


Average GMAT


Average GPA


Average Work Exp (yrs)


North American


Asia Pacific

Undergraduate Majors

26 %

Media & Communication

15 %

Humanities & Arts

11 %

Business Administration

Let us help you to write better!

Politicians have speech writers. Journalists use news editors. Famous writers and columnists have an army of professional editors. Don’t you think you also need to have one?