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How to Create a Winning MBA Application Video Essay

M BA application video essays are becoming a popular tool; MBA programs can use them to learn far more about candidates than the traditional application permits.

MBA Application Video Essay Tips

MBA admissions committees are relying more and more on technology to help them evaluate and manage their growing applicant pools. In recent years, leading MBA programs including Kellogg Northwestern , MIT Sloan , and Chicago Booth have incorporated a video component into their evaluation process. Video essays are excellent screening tools that allow admissions officers to assess candidates’ professional presence and communication skills.

Many applicants are unnerved by the MBA video essays. They certainly can be an anxiety-inducing step in the business school application process. However, we urge you to consider the benefits presented by video essays. We wrote this article to help you take full advantage of video essays and video interview questions.

Done well, a video response allows you to jump off the application page. Your goal is to impress the admissions committee so that they can’t wait to meet you in a face-to-face admissions interview. Let’s face it; the video essay is here to stay. So read on to learn how to ace this step in the admissions process!

While more business schools are utilizing video essays, the formats and styles can vary. We will discuss the two most common formats, reveal what admissions officers are really looking for in a video response, and share tips on how to produce an outstanding video essay.

MBA Video Essay Tips #1: Randomized, Timed Video Essays

Some MBA programs, including Kellogg, use a timed video essay format. In this video essay style, you will be presented a question on your computer screen, have a short amount of time (20 seconds or so) to organize your thoughts, and then have 60-90 seconds to answer. Your video will be recorded directly into your application via online software. Though you may be granted opportunities to practice, you will only have one opportunity to record your final response to each question once you leave the practice mode.

The number and type of questions you will be asked in this MBA application video essay and interviews is up to each school. Some schools ask a single question, whereas others ask three or four. In some cases, you will know the video essay prompts in advance and have time to design your response and practice your delivery.

However, most business schools expect an impromptu performance. They want to see if you can think on your feet. The good news is that you can prepare for some of the most common questions. Below we discuss three question types of video essay questions and provide a few examples of each one.

MBA Video Essay Sample Questions

Introduction questions video interview questions.

  • Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
  • Introduce yourself to your future classmates.
  • Who are you? Tell us about yourself?

Career Goals Video Interview Questions

  • What career are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How will our program help you achieve them?

Ice-breaker Video Interview Questions

  • What is your favorite book/travel destination/holiday?
  • What adjective describes you best and why?
  • What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life?

Behavioral Video Interview Questions

  • Talk about how you handled a disagreement with a team member.
  • Tell us about a time you were not going to be able to meet a deadline. How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell us about a time you helped someone in need.

MBA Video Essay Tips #2: Pre-Recorded, Open-Ended Video Essays

In contrast to the timed, random video questions, other MBA programs provide you with the opportunity to pre-record your response to a more open-ended prompt. MIT Sloan is perhaps best-known for employing this type of video essay.

MIT Sloan interviews often end with the final question, “Is there anything else I should know about you?” When admissions officers realized that the information applicants shared all kinds of interesting information at the conclusion of their interview, the MIT video essay question was born. The required 1-minute video MIT at the time of this writing is worded as follows:

“Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, be yourself.”

What do Admissions Committees look for in MBA application video essay responses?

While MBA application video essay questions come in many shapes and sizes, they are designed by admissions boards with some common goals in mind. First, the admissions officers use these videos as a new way to get to know applicants better. MBA admissions officers genuinely want to learn what makes you, you. Most video essay questions are open-ended, which will allow you the flexibility to choose what you want to share. This video essay gives you a whole new way to differentiate yourself, share unique personal interests, and grab the Admissions Committee’s attention.

Secondarily, the video essay enables an admissions committee to evaluate your communication skills. If English is your second language, they can judge your level of fluency. If you are a native speaker, the video interview will provide insight into how well you express yourself and your executive presence.

To a large degree, your Admissions reviewer will care more about how you present yourself than about the content of your responses. They are trying to figure out if you will be able to participate in class discussions and get a sense of how you might perform in front of recruiters. Additionally, they can evaluate how your personality will “fit” within the school’s culture. Are you timid, aggressive, confident, bubbly, or anxious? Don’t worry if you aren’t a person who is comfortable on camera or at ease with public speaking. MBA programs don’t expect or want everyone to sound and act the same. There is room in the MBA community for reserved and thoughtful students as well as for charismatic dynamos.

The randomized question format also tests your ability to think on your feet. Can you remain calm when faced with an unexpected question? Are you able to quickly organize your thoughts and deliver an answer on the spot? MBA essays can’t measure those abilities. An MBA application video interview is one of the admissions committee’s best tools for predicting if prospective students can handle the dynamic and unpredictable world we live in.

How to Prepare for Your MBA Essay Video

To prepare for both types of MBA video essays, you will want to begin by learning about the school’s fit qualities, determining which of your qualities or experiences best align with those value points, and practicing until you can deliver your responses in a polished, authentic way.

First, keep in mind that your video is not intended to be a summary of your application. The Admissions Committee has your application resume , cover letter, and letters of recommendation to learn about your professional history. The least successful videos are those in which applicants recite their employment history.

Treat your video essay as an opportunity to show another side of yourself beyond your professional persona. In a relatively lean application, this is key. Applicants often worry that if they fall into a particularly overrepresented applicant group (say, “consultants”) that they won’t be able to stand out . Find a way to use the video to differentiate yourself!

Do Your Research BEFORE You Create Your MBA Video Essay

To excel in the MBA video essays, you need to do your research to determine each program’s fit qualities . This is a two-part question: what is each school looking for when evaluating applicants, and which of your stories or experiences best exemplify what the school values?

During the brainstorming phase of this project, consider what your target school values and how your interests, personality, and values align. MBA programs certainly think about “fit” when evaluating candidates, and the video is a perfect way to demonstrate how your priorities match those of the school.

In the case of MIT Sloan, you might begin with the school’s mission: to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. This mission statement and Sloan’s culture more broadly emphasize the value the institution places on leadership, integrity, inquisitiveness, outside-the-box thinking, problem-solving, and “doing good.” Knowing this, you might opt to film yourself doing something creative, highlight a community service experience in which you impacted others, or showcase a product you built.

Another source of inspiration is MIT’s motto: mens et manus , or “mind and hand.” MIT Sloan believes that theories must be tested, and knowledge must be applied. Action learning is a core component of the curriculum, and the Admissions Committee seeks action-oriented, purposeful students. You might integrate action into your video by “showing” rather than “telling;” for example, you could shoot the video of you participating in a hobby you enjoy rather than simply explaining it.

Lastly, a common phrase shared within the MIT Sloan community is “Sloanies helping Sloanies.” The school prioritizes collaboration and inclusion among its students and across its programs, so you might highlight stories that involve you teaming up with friends or colleagues. Do any of your points of difference or personal interests exemplify these values?

Lastly, make a connection between the personal and professional aspects of your message. For example, suppose you want to focus on renewable energy after your MBA. In that case, you might consider filming your video while hiking a nature trail, sharing a story about your experience as an environmental volunteer, and highlighting Sloan’s sustainability certificate as a defining piece of your MBA plan.

Similarly, endeavor to connect your intended career path to classes, clubs, and resources that will further your career aspirations. Although you won’t know what random question you will receive, knowing the school’s “fit qualities” and your key differentiators can help you brainstorm building blocks for effective answers. For example, Kellogg offers students a wide array of global opportunities. This might lead you to talk about language lessons or a project you work on overseas.

Don’t Repeat Your MBA Application Resume

Repeating stories in the videos that you previously shared in your essays is a bad idea. The Admissions Committee wants the video essays to add dimension to the picture they already have of you based upon your MBA application. We urge you to draw upon fresh examples from your resume bullet points or introduce personal interests you haven’t discussed elsewhere.

As your next step, review your application package to determine if you neglected to showcase any of your points of difference or critical attributes that the program values. Look for connections between your personal interests and the school’s priorities. For example, Kellogg is known for its collaborative culture; therefore, you might want to key on a team-based experience in your response to add evidence that you fit with Kellogg’s culture.

Additionally, because effective essays focus on your recent past (within the past three years or so), you probably did not have a chance to mention formative experiences. Suppose you have overcome personal obstacles or are passionate about a topic unrelated to your career. If so, use your video essay to showcase activities that matter most to you and brief stories that exemplify who you really are.

Take Notes, But Don’t Memorize a Script

Having a video prompt in advance provides the opportunity to write out your thoughts. Nevertheless, you want to be prepared – but not scripted. Your notes should serve as a guide only and should not be referred to during the recording session. (Admissions officers will almost always be able to tell if you are reading notes.) In the case of randomized video questions, it may be helpful to have a notepad next to you to jot down ideas during the short preparation period. Writing notes may put you at ease, but aim not to look at them while the camera is on.

Practice, Practice, Practice for Your MBA Video Essay

Practice delivering answers to develop a sense of the pacing required to fit them within the time you are granted. Ask a friend (or admissions consultant) to ask you a few random questions or listen to your prepared statement with a stopwatch handy to time your responses. Be sure to stay on topic to complete entire responses in the given time. For timed response, practice enough times until you have a good sense of how long one minute is. Once the camera is rolling, it goes by faster than you think!

Tips for Recording Your MBA Video Essay

Once you’ve brainstormed and practiced, it’s time for lights, camera, and action. Whether you are sitting for a timed, on-the-spot question or recording your prepared response, shooting your video requires careful thought and patient preparation. Here are some logistical tips to make sure you have the technical details sorted out:

Location, Location, Location

Be mindful of your surroundings. Choose a location to record videos where you know you won’t be interrupted. For videos like MIT Sloan’s that allow for personal flair, applicants often choose to shoot their video in a meaningful location that ties into the story they plan to tell. This is an excellent idea in theory but can undermine your work if background movement or noise distract viewers from your presentation. Avoid any pedestrians or coworkers walking through your shot or traffic sounds in the background. For example, an applicant recorded her video in front of her favorite coffee shop, but the noise and foot traffic made it very difficult for the Admissions Committee to focus on the applicant herself.

Test the lighting and sound to make sure you will be seen and heard clearly. You want to ensure that, wherever you are, your camera microphone clearly picks up your voice. Showing your passion for environmentalism by recording yourself on a nature trail is an interesting idea, but not if the wind washes out your words.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some applicants don’t put ENOUGH thought into their location. Check the camera frame to ensure that no distractions appear (such as a pile of dirty laundry or an empty beer bottle). If you plan to record yourself in your home or apartment, clear away the dirty dishes and compost your dead houseplant first! Show the Admissions Committee that you care about your final product. Finally, check the strength of your Internet connection for timed videos to reduce the risk that you are disconnected during the video recording session.

Dress to Impress?

How you present yourself is just as important as your location choice. For timed videos like Kellogg’s, you should dress for success– at least from the waist up. Because the frame will only capture your face and shoulders, you are free to rock those sweatpants! Admissions officers prefer to see you dressed in business casual. Double-check your hair and makeup just as you would before an actual admissions interview.

If the school’s video prompt lends itself to showcasing a more personal side, dressing in business formal is not necessary. You have the freedom to use clothing as a means of expression. In the past, MIT Sloan applicants have worn their favorite sports team’s apparel, traditional clothing that reflects their culture, or just whatever makes them feel comfortable.

However, remember that while this video is personal, it is ALSO a professional application. Our former admissions officers have seen applicants who looked like they rolled out of bed five minutes before recording their video and once had an applicant submit a video of themselves in their bathing suit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. Use good judgment in selecting what you wear.

Make Eye Contact

Look at the camera, especially when recording timed video essays on your computer. This can be a challenge because people naturally tend to look at their image on the screen rather than the camera lens. When you focus your gaze on the camera, you make “eye contact” with your viewer. Some applicants put a post-it note over their image on the screen to avoid being distracted by their own faces.

Timing is Everything

Time management is key to success in the overall application process, and the video essay component is no different.

Figure out the best time of day to record your video. Is your voice raspy in the morning? Are you tired and sluggish by the end of the day? You can practice recording your voice on other devices and play it back to compare. You might even consider a few vocal exercises to warm up your voice.

Don’t put the video essay off until the last minute. Don’t wait until minutes before the deadline. The pressure will be too intense. Additionally, video servers have been known to crash when too many procrastinators try to upload their videos simultaneously. We recommend you set aside about 20-30 minutes to complete the recording process, so you don’t feel rushed.

For timed essays, be aware of the time bar that shows how long you have been talking and how many seconds are remaining for your response. When you sense your time is almost up, quickly check the time bar so you can wrap up your statement without being cut off at the end.

Don’t panic if something goes wrong. As they say in the theater, the show must go on. Unexpected disruptions or technical difficulties may happen, so you need to display poise under pressure. Brush off mistakes rather than calling attention to them. If you lose your train of thought, pause to give your brain time to catch up with your mouth. If you need to answer multiple timed questions, don’t carry stress or mistakes from one question to the next. What will hurt you is cursing on camera when you make a mistake (I’m a former admissions officer, and I have seen it happen!).

Follow the Rules

Last but not least, stick to the guidelines the Admissions Committee has set forth. Keeping your video within the timeframe allowed (e.g., 60 seconds for MIT Sloan) shows you respect the committee’s time. MIT Sloan also stipulates that the video should be a single take of you speaking directly to the camera with no editing or production work. If it becomes evident that you hired a Hollywood-caliber video production company to help create your video, then you might win an Oscar but won’t be admitted to MIT Sloan. If there are too many people on your crew, it becomes impossible to identify the real talent, the applicant, or their production team. Not following the parameters may indicate a sense of self-importance or the mistaken belief that the rules don’t apply to you. While MIT Sloan is a school that admires people who challenge the status quo, they also expect applicants to play fair in the admissions process. So, play by the rules and find ways to be original within the constraints of this exercise– that is how you will demonstrate true creativity.

What Succeeds, What Fails

Having viewed thousands of video essays during their time in multiple admissions offices, MBA Prep School consultants have seen some video strategies work exceptionally well, and others fall flat.

Show and Tell

The benefit of a video, especially one in which you have some creative license, is your ability to communicate by showing in addition to telling. Whether showcasing a hidden talent like singing, a hobby like cooking, or an athletic interest like basketball, actions speak louder than words. In some cases, applicants choose to participate in an activity on-camera that they enjoy. One memorable applicant parasailed into the frame of his video. Before he even began speaking, an admissions officer could infer some information about him: he liked water sports, he was adventurous, perhaps he was even a risk-taker. It was a great use of action to convey something about him and allowed him more time to speak about other topics.

If you choose to “perform” during your video, be sure you are doing something you are actually GOOD at! Previous applicants have written and performed parodies of songs, changing the lyrics to reflect their stories and affinity for MIT Sloan. However, the videos were painful to watch if the applicants weren’t talented singers!

Other applicants have utilized a “show and tell” format. A candidate on a Peace Corp mission chose three items to tell the admissions committee about himself, one being the pot he used to cook food in daily while in his village. His creative framing succeeded because he had to pack light; therefore, each object had a special meaning. It’s important to make your “show and tell” unique. Too many applicants used a tablet computer to show photos of their travels, family, and hobbies. Often, there was nothing special or memorable presented in these videos.

Creativity Counts When It Serves a Purpose

Innovation is MIT’s lifeblood, so it is no surprise that applicants often use their video essays to illustrate their creativity. The risk is that your clever framing device takes over and comes across as a gimmick that distracts the viewer; remember, the purpose of the video essay is for the Admissions Committee to get to know you. One applicant sent a video of herself lip-syncing to a popular song intermixed with a time-lapse video of a pie baking in the oven. It wasn’t possible to infer what these images meant, so the video detracted from her application instead of enriching it.

Nothing Beats Authenticity

You don’t have to learn to parasail to capture the Admissions Committee’s attention. In fact, while creativity has its place in a video essay, it never can beat authenticity. An MIT Sloan applicant passionate about ending human trafficking simply spoke to the camera about her volunteer work in that area. Viewers could clearly sense her drive to find a solution to this problem. An engaged speaker sharing a personal story always wins against props or schtick. Presenting an authentic representation of yourself always wins over special effects.

Final Thoughts

Video essays give MBA applicants a chance to showcase their true selves, which is extremely valuable when competing with so many exceptional candidates for a select few spots. By putting thought and effort into this aspect of the application, you will meet the actual measure of success in this assignment: an invitation to meet the Admissions Committee for a real, live MBA admission interview !

Do Your Video Essays Stand Out?

Whether you need help outlining your video , want us to review your pre-recorded video , or want to practice live video questions , we have you covered!

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MBA Video Essay Samples

Featured Expert: Aali Malik, MBA

MBA Video Essay

Are you curious about the MBA video interview questions/MBA video essay? You're not the only one. This relatively new application component has become a part of the admissions process for several top business schools, including some  Ivy League schools  like Yale University's school of management and other prestigious institutions like MIT . MBA video interviews or essays can be challenging for applicants, mainly because most applicants are unsure how to prepare for them. Much like with other interview formats and essays, the key to success is practice! In this blog, we will share some common MBA video essay prompts so that you have some questions to practice with, and we will also provide some sample answers to those questions to help you prepare.

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Article Contents 6 min read

What are mba video interview questions/video essays.

MBA video interviews and MBA video essays are short, self-recorded videos where candidates answer questions given by the admission committee in a video instead of writing. This application component has simply been added to the admission process of some business schools; it does not replace any other written MBA admission essay or the final interview for admission. 

It's also important to note that because this concept is relatively new in the MBA application process, business schools refer to it by different names. For example, Kellogg Business School and London Business School both call it a video essay, while INSEAD refers to it as Video Interview, and MIT refers to it as a Video Statement. Ultimately, these are all the same thing. The only thing that may vary is the format of the video essay. 

There are two main types of MBA video essays:

This format asks candidates to record a short video answering a specific question or prompt given by the admission committee. The timeframe and questions or topics are usually provided beforehand, thus giving you more time to think through your answers and ensure that your video essay is of the best quality. ","label":"Pre-recorded video essays","title":"Pre-recorded video essays"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

Kellogg Business School

Kellogg business school  is one of the pioneers of the MBA video essay. This component was added to their already thorough application process in 2013 and is here to stay. Kellogg no longer publishes their admission statistics, but in previous years, the acceptance rate was roughly 20%, making it one of the most selective business schools in the world. To apply to Kellogg’s MBA programs, applicants must submit two written  MBA admission essays , and answer 3 MBA video essay questions.

Kellogg Business School's acceptance rate

The Kellogg MBA video essay comprises three essay prompts. Applicants have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer each question. The first two questions are predefined, and the third question is usually randomized. It should be noted that this is subject to change. For example, not too long ago, the admissions committee was specifically asking students about their experience with COVID as a third question instead of using a random prompt. So, it is always best to verify the school’s website for the most up-to-date information.

My name is Angela Faye, and I am a corporate lawyer from New York City. I was born in Normandy, France, but I moved to the United States at the age of eighteen to attend university. I quickly fell in love with the melting pot of cultures found in New York and the different aspects of American culture. So, I decided to stay and make a life for myself here. I am a wife and mother to two beautiful children who look up to me and for whom I'd like to set a good example by doing what it takes to accomplish my goals. One of those goals is to open a law firm of my own, and I believe that the next step for me on my journey to making that happen is to gain more knowledge and experience in business administration and management. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab2" template="BlogArticle">

I aim to own and operate an affordable, sustainable clothing brand that caters to women of all sizes and body types. I have been working towards this goal for the past five years. I own a personal shopping business, and I have noticed how limited the options are for ethically made clothes, especially for women with different body shapes. In the past five years, I have taken the time to research and learn about the logistics of the clothing industry, study the market and begin gathering funds for this project. The next step for me is to gain even more knowledge about what it takes to successfully and ethically run a business while networking with some of the best business minds in the world. Based on my research, the best place for me to do that is at Kellogg business school. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab3" template="BlogArticle">

This is the power that the main character of the sci-fi show Heroes possesses. This power allows you to learn and replicate the abilities of those in close proximity to you. This means that you would be able to learn a wide array of abilities, including flight, invisibility, and anything else that exists. To succeed, you need to be prepared and have multiple tools at your disposal. This superpower definitely gives you that. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab4" template="BlogArticle">

Be sure to read some Kellogg MBA essay examples for inspiration! Here are a 10 additional common Kellogg MBA video essay questions that you can use to practice:

  • What piece of technology could you not live without and why?
  • Who do you approach when you have a problem for advice and why?
  • What accomplishment are you really proud of?
  • What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
  • If you were given a chance to meet anyone, current or historical, who would you meet and why?
  • What was the most interesting class you took at university? 
  • How have you changed in the last five years?
  • What risk have you taken, and what did you learn?
  • What impact do you have on your co-workers?
  • What inspires you?

The  University of Toronto  is not only one of the best  universities of Ontario , but it attracts candidates from all over the world yearly. So it is not surprising that Rotman school of management is an increasingly popular choice for MBA hopefuls. To get into Rotman, you need to ace the MBA video interview/MBA admission essay. 

The university uses the  Kira talent  platform, which uses both video and text. Applicants will answer two different questions on video and one question in writing. For the video portion of this MBA video interview, candidates will hear the question, have 30 seconds to think, and then 90 seconds to answer. The questions used during the interview will vary, but we looked at a few past prompts so that we can share sample answers and questions for you to practice with.

I decided to cut back on my hours at the tutoring center, and I enlisted the help of a different student so that I could delegate some tasks and have more time to study. That experience taught me a lot about time management. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab5" template="BlogArticle">

I would much rather be good and on time than perfect and late. Nothing is perfect. We can try to get as close to perfect as possible, but there comes the point where chasing perfection becomes a waste of time, and time is far too valuable to be wasted. If something is good and on time, then it will stand out, and you may even have a chance to improve on it and \"perfect\" it while it is already operational. For example, recently, I was assigned to design the logo for a new client, and when the deadline came, I found that the product was not perfect. I wanted to fix it up a little more, but I realized that it would be best to give my clients something good on time and get their feedback so that we can work together to perfect it. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab6" template="BlogArticle">

Here are a 10 additional MBA video essay questions from Rotman that you can use to practice:

  • Who is your mentor outside your family, and why?
  • Apart from money, what else would keep you in your current organization?
  • What is one good habit, and what is one bad habit of yours?
  • If you had to delete all apps but three from my phone, which ones would I keep and why?
  • If you got a chance, what subject would you teach?
  • Out of the four seasons, which do you like the most and why?
  • What is one good habit and one bad habit that you have?
  • If you had no financial downsides from quitting your job, what job would you prefer to be doing?
  • Which of the following aspects of your life are you most in touch with: emotional, spiritual, or physical?
  • If you could have anyone over for dinner, who would it be?

Yale University  is an Ivy League institution with a worldwide reputation and a highly selective admissions process. The video interview component for Yale School of Management uses a set of randomized, previously recorded questions. This means that applicants will likely not have the same set of questions in one interview cycle. The school's website states that the questions asked are similar to typical interview questions. In other words, while the video essay may not have "trick questions," it will have some tricky ones. One tip we can give you is to  prepare for your MBA interview  early. This will not only improve your chances of doing well during your MBA interview, but it will also help you with your performance on this MBA video essay component. 

Yale video essay comprises three questions. Applicants will have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer the first two questions. For the third question, applicants will have 30 seconds of preparation time and 90 seconds to answer. Let's take a look at some of the prompts that have been used for Yale MBA video essays in the past:

I have wanted to pursue a Master's in Business Administration for a few years now, but I needed to accomplish a few things before embarking on this journey. First, I needed to get a few years of practical experience after spending most of my undergraduate years learning business theories. Secondly, I wanted enough savings to cover most of the tuition fees and expenses. I plan on giving my studies my full attention for the next two years, and I find that the best way to do that is to pace yourself and remove as many distractions as possible. Having enough money to ensure that my tuition is paid gives me more choices and allows me to focus on that instead of anything else. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab7" template="BlogArticle">

As a business owner, I often find myself in a position where I have to make difficult decisions or handle challenging situations. Recently, I had to decide whether it was time to let go of our office building and become a fully remote company or for a hybrid model for my employees. Everyone, from the senior management staff to the part-workers, had a different opinion. In the end, even though I listened to what they had to say, I had to compare what they were saying to what the numbers showed. Our statistics showed that most of the team was actually performing better from home and that we would save considerable money if we kept working online and spent some money on communication networks that would allow us to communicate better as a team. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab8" template="BlogArticle">

\"Without Arts, an education can not be accomplished.\" I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. People learn in different ways, and many of those ways include various pieces of art. For example, I am a visual learner. So Whenever a presentation, poster, or textbook includes images, I tend to remember it better. Furthermore, because artists and the world of arts, in general, are a big part of our culture, one cannot claim to be educated about the world without at least understanding some of it. ","label":"Sample answer","title":"Sample answer"}]" code="tab9" template="BlogArticle">

Here are a 10 additional Yale SOM MBA video essay questions that you can use to practice:

  • What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
  • Tell us about a creative solution you designed
  • Please respond to the following statement: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Do you agree or disagree? why?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the notion that the chief executive's first priority should be a profit for shareholders?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Tell us about a shortcut you and a team could have taken, but decided not to
  • If we asked your colleagues about your weaknesses and strengths, what would they say ?
  • How will you resolve a conflict with your future classmates at the program?
  • Tell us about a difficult decision and how you handled it?
  • "The People who we remember most are the people who break the rules." Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

MBA video essays should not be underestimated. While the questions and format used by the business schools are not designed to trick you, they are definitely intended to challenge you. This means that it gives you a chance to rise to the challenge and the admissions committee a chance to find out which candidates took the time to research and prepare for this application component. If you're reading this blog, then you have already taken a step in the right direction by looking at common video essay prompts and sample answers. To prepare further, we recommend using the questions we listed to practice. Remember that these video essays are timed, so familiarize yourself with the time limits by using a timer while practicing. You should also take the time to set up and test your equipment before your interview, to make sure it is stable and that your background is appropriate. If you truly want to maximize your chances of success, you should consider working with an  MBA essay consultant  or participating in  MBA mock interviews. 

The level of competition will depend on the specific school you're applying to, but MBA programs are generally quite selective.

This is a relatively new application component used by a few business schools. Essentially, they are short videos during which candidates answer essay questions given by the admission committee.

The admission committee typically provides questions or prompts for your video essay. You should verify the admissions information of the school you are applying to, as some schools make the questions to the video essay available in advance.

No, not all of them do. Video essays and Video interviews are still a relatively new practice. They are only used by a few business schools in the world, but the practice is rising in popularity, so it is best to be prepared.

There are a few schools around the globe that require MBA video essays, including Yale, Kellogg, MIT, Rotman, London Business School, INSEAD, etc.

Yes. Most business schools ask for both written essays and video essays. Some schools also include a written essay in their MBA video interview process, like Rotman, for example.

The video essay serves a similar purpose as the  MBA personal statement  or  MBA diversity essay . If you meet the standards set by the admission committee, you may still get called for an in-person or virtual interview.

You can prepare by planning or structuring your answers in advance, timing yourself when you rehearse, participating in mock interviews, and investing in  MBA admissions consulting.

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mba video essays

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  • MBA Admissions
  • ISB Admissions
  • MBA Application Tips
  • MBA Essay Tips
  • Business Schools

Video Essays for MBA Admissions: 15 Expert Tips to Create an Impressive Essay

Admit expert.

  • September 18, 2023

In this day and age, video is everywhere. We watch videos on our phones, computers, and televisions. It’s no surprise that business schools are asking applicants to submit video essays as part of their application process. Why? Because video is a powerful medium that can be used to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, including non-verbal communication which is usually not possible in the case of a written essay.

How to create video essay for MBA admissions

In this blog post, we will discuss what video essays are, why they matter, and how to create one that will impress the admissions committee.

What are video essays?

Why do business schools require video essays, record and submit the video on the business school’s platform, record offline and submit the video, tips for creating an outstanding video essay for mba admissions.

A video essay is a short (usually one to two minutes long) video that applicants are asked to submit as part of their MBA application.

The purpose of the video essay is to give the admissions committee a chance to get to know the applicant on a personal level and learn more about their motivation for pursuing an MBA.

It also gives the admissions committee a chance to evaluate the non-verbal aspects as well as the verbal communication skills of the candidate, which hitherto was only possible to evaluate in an interview.

Business schools included video essays in the MBA application because they wanted more genuine responses from applicants, without the direct involvement of admissions consultants or other professionals. The admission committees of Rotman, Kellogg, and INSEAD have responded to why business schools require Video Essays as part of their application process.

According to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which pioneered the video essay as part of the application process, the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different aptitudes and competencies in the admissions process.

“The video essay provides students with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community — in an interactive way,” says the Kellogg MBA Admissions committee.

According to the Admissions Committee at INSEAD, the video should provide students with a unique opportunity to share their passions, motivations, and who they are. The Admissions Committee is looking for an authentic view of the applicant as a person, to see how a student thinks on their feet and communicates ideas.

Typically, the school will provide one or more questions and some time to think about them (around 30 – 60 seconds per question), after which the student is expected to provide a recorded answer to the school.

Types of MBA Video Essays

As part of the MBA application, applicants may be asked to submit two types of videos.

Following application submission, the school will send an e-mail with a link to record the video on an online platform. Applicants should use their personal computers to record their responses to specific questions. You may be asked one of two types of questions:

Specific questions from the school’s application instructions: In such cases, you will have the opportunity to prepare for the question ahead of time. The question can range from inquiring about your career to introducing yourself to the admissions committee.

Random Questions: Each student will be asked a random question by the school. You will be given a time limit in which to think about and respond to the questions. You should prepare some personal situational stories that are relevant to various topics.

Schools such as MIT Sloan require applicants to submit a video statement on the topic specified in the application instructions. The majority of the school prefers single-take (no editing) videos that are no longer than one minute long.

Some business schools do not compulsorily require a video essay as part of the application process. However, as a best practice, you should ideally try to complete an optional video essay. If you are given the option of submitting a video essay as part of your application, you should do so. The optional video essay allows you to showcase your personality as well as your motivation to pursue an MBA program.

Business School Specific Video essays

The adcom has read your essays and resumes, and now they want you to put it all together in a video . Show them who is behind all of those carefully crafted words. The video will include three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that led you here today.

Here are some things to think about as you prepare to finish this section:

  • Video essays must be submitted 96 hours after the deadline.
  • After you submit your application and payment, a link to your video essay will appear on your application status page.
  • An internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone is required.
  • The video should take about 20-25 minutes to complete, including setup time.

Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

– Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you? What leadership qualities, personality traits, and accomplishments have you displayed in your personal and professional life that define you as the person you are?

Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

– This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you want to pursue it from Kellogg? You have to 

  • Give a brief overview of your current experience, skills, and qualities 
  • Mention your post MBA short term, medium-term and long-term career goals which should be aligned with your experience, skills, and qualities 
  • Mention specific courses, clubs, competitions, placements, etc., or any other thing unique to Kellog that would help you achieve your post MBA career goals.

Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Here, Kellog ad-com wants to get deeper insights into the personality traits and leadership qualities you have that will help you become a future leader. Hence, you should mention the challenge, how you overcame the challenge, what are the leadership qualities that helped you navigate the challenge, and finally what you learned and how you implemented the learning in another situation where you created a significant impact, which should be quantified if possible. 

Kellogg adcom tips

  • There are practice questions that you can answer as many times as you want to become acquainted with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience are intended to simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is a useful tool to help you feel prepared.
  • We encourage you to practice so that you are familiar with the format when it comes time to answer the official questions. You will not be able to redo your answers to the official video essay questions.

You will have 20 seconds to consider the question and up to one minute to respond.

Do you want to impress the MBA Adcom with your video essay?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too. Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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After completing your online application, the admissions committee will send you an email with a unique link to complete the video essay sectio n. Each applicant will be asked to record their responses to four questions. The questions could be about your interest in INSEAD, teamwork, diversity, culture, or anything else. You will have 45 seconds to prepare each answer and 1 minute to record your answer after getting the question.

Before recording your answers, you can practice on the INSEAD online platform. There will be several questions available during the practice session, and you can practice as many as you need to feel comfortable. You can make an account on the internet platform and return at any time, with no limit on how many practice sessions you can do.

Advice from INSEAD’s adcom

  • We recommend recording your Kira videos with Microsoft Edge or Chrome for the best user experience.
  • You can practice as much as you want to prepare yourself. This will allow you to give sincere and authentic responses. The Admissions Committee is not informed about the practice questions.
  • Test your camera and microphone, then look at the camera as if you were speaking to the Admissions Committee.
  • Despite the fact that we require you to dress professionally or in business casual attire, the Admissions Committee will not pass judgement on your appearance or background.
  • You might wish to keep a notebook nearby to jot down your main points. You’ll have 45 seconds to prepare each response, followed by 60 seconds to share your response.

After submitting your application and paying your application fee, you will be given access to the video questions . The video questions are not a replacement for the interview; rather, they are part of your MBA application.

Every candidate will be given a set of randomized, previously recorded questions asked by a member of the admissions team. No two applicants will be asked the same questions.

Yale SOM tips

Kristen Mercuri, Deputy Director of Admissions, shares a few tips with applicants:

  • First, know you’re going to be great! This is not a deal-breaker or maker. It doesn’t require any preparation beyond the practice tool you can access before you start your recordings. Don’t stress; we aim to set you up for success. 
  • One piece of advice for the recorded responses is to familiarize yourself with the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed in your answer, and you also don’t want to only utilize 10 seconds. 
  • And finally, be sure you have a good internet connection and a quiet, private space. You’d be surprised how many ‘bloopers’ we see in the video questions due to an unexpected colleague, partner, or pet joining your session.

You must submit a video statement along with other documents as part of your MIT Sloan application. Unlike other schools, where you record the video in the admission portal, you can record and upload the video at your leisure on the MIT Sloan video statement portal.

The prompt is as follows:

Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, and be yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!

Videos should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No more than 60 seconds in length
  • Single take (no editing) 
  • Speaking directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

MBA video essays are a great way to showcase your personality and MBA video essay tips can help you put your best foot forward. Here are the top 15 MBA video essay tips:

  • Be natural and be yourself. The MBA video essay is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you on a personal level, so it is important to be genuine and authentic in your responses. Don’t try to memorize answers or regurgitate information from your resume; instead, focus on sharing stories and experiences that will give the admissions committee insight into who you are as a person. Writing pointers and then expanding them naturally while speaking would be a better technique than writing the entire answer and reading it verbally.
  • Keep it short and sweet. The MBA video essay is not the time to give a long-winded speech; instead, focus on delivering a few key points in a clear and concise manner. The admissions committee wants to see that you can communicate effectively and efficiently, so don’t try to cram too much information into your MBA video essay.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Before hitting “record,” take some time to practice your MBA video essay so that you feel comfortable and confident on camera. Record a few practice takes so that you can get used to the format and format of the questions
  • Highlight your accomplishments: Share your successes and experiences that have helped shape who you are today. This is your chance to shine and show the admissions committee what you’re capable of.
  • Tell a story: A well-told story will capture the attention of the admissions committee and give them a glimpse into who you are as a person. Share a personal experience or an anecdote that highlights your unique personality and perspective.
  • Choose a quiet and well-lit location: Make sure you choose a location with enough light on your face and no background noise. There should be no background noise while recording the video. If at all possible, ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on the area while you conduct the interview.
  • Recording accessories: Although most schools do not specify video output, it is recommended that you use a high-quality webcam and microphone when recording your video essay. If you believe your laptop’s webcam output is inadequate, use an external webcam to record the video. When selecting a microphone, ensure that your voice is clearly audible. You must record a sample video and evaluate its quality.
  • Choose a simple background: When recording, it is best to use a single colour background. If there are too many elements behind you, the viewer’s attention will be diverted away from your presentation.
  • Keep a notepad and a pen handy: Most essay questions will give you less than one minute to structure your thoughts before delivering your answer. Keep a notepad and a pen at the table to jot down the main points and supporting examples you want to deliver while answering.
  • Dress for Success: The video essay is a professional video that serves as a “pre-interview” communication with the Admissions Committee. Dressing professionally is also important for the same reason.
  • Avoid excessive movement: The video should be conversational, similar to a speech. As a result, you should avoid excessive gesturing and movement while recording your video essay.
  • Speak clearly and with proper enunciation: Do not narrate the entire essay expressionlessly. Take enough pauses between sentences to emphasize your words and thoughts and persuade the admissions committee that you are a serious applicant. You must respond with a fluid tone and pitch that conveys your conviction and passion. Try practicing voice modulation which will prevent your speech from becoming monotonous and boring.
  • Body language: It is an important aspect to consider during your video essay. Remember to sit up straight throughout the recording. The best way to identify issues with your body language is to film yourself answering some of the questions on your list and analyzing the results. Before sitting down for the final take, practice while correcting such errors to remove nervousness and nervous ticks.
  • Position the camera: Avoid leaning forward or lowering your head to face the camera. Position the webcam at eye level so that you can answer with your head straight. When responding, always keep your gaze fixed on the camera. Film yourself answering a few of the questions on your list with a camera. Make sure your background, lighting, and outfit all look good.
  • Smile for the camera: You aced the GMAT, crafted an impressive resume, obtained letters of recommendation, completed your entire application, and double-checked it. You completed all of the difficult checkpoints. There is only one mantra for video essays: be your best self. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. Keep a smile on your face as you respond to the questions.

By following these tips, you can create a strong video essay that will help you stand out from the rest of the applicants and improve your chances of being admitted to your dream business school.

If you’re looking for more help with your MBA application, be sure to check out our other blog posts on the topic. We cover everything from how to choose the right business school to what kind of experience you need to have in order to get admitted.

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  • Video Essay for MBA Admissions – Tips that work
  • MBA Admissions

Have you ever wondered what questions are asked in an MBA video interview or what an MBA video essay looks like? If you haven’t, that’s okay; you’re not alone. Numerous leading business schools, including Yale School of Management and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, use this application component. MBA video essays can be hard for applicants, mostly because of the impromptu nature that they have where you may have just a few seconds to prepare a response to a prompt you receive. The key to success in this interview format, as in other interview formats and essays, is practice!

mba video essays

What are video essays, why do they matter, and how can I create a video essay that will create a positive impact in the minds of admissions officers? We will answer these questions and more in this blog post.

Why do video essays exist?

What are mba video interview questions / video essays, types of mba video essays, kellogg school of management, rotman school of management, london business school, 11 mba video essay tips that work, final thoughts.

Video is all around us these days. We watch videos on our smartphones, computers, and TVs. It’s hardly shocking that many MBA programs need video essays as part of the application. Why? Because video can transmit a lot of information quickly, including nonverbal communication that just isn’t possible in a written essay.

According to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which was the first to use video essays as part of the application process, the video essay lets the admissions team look for different skills and abilities as part of the evaluation process.

INSEAD’s admissions committee says that the video essay gives students a unique chance to talk about what they love, what drives them, and who they are. The Admissions Committee wants to get a true picture of the applicant as a person. They want to know how a student thinks on his or her feet and how he or she communicates ideas.

Both the MBA video interview and the MBA video essay are brief, self-recorded, or platform-recorded videos in which applicants respond to questions posed by the admissions committee via video rather than in written form. Some business schools have only recently added this criterion to their application process. It’s important to note that video essays don’t replace the written MBA admission essay or the final interview for admission.

It’s also important to know that business schools have different names for this essay because it’s new to the MBA application process. Kellogg and London Business School both call it a video essay, while INSEAD and MIT call it a video interview and a video statement, respectively. Every business school has certain unique nuances to video essays.

So, what types of video essays exist? Let’s find out.

There are two types of video essays asked:

  • Impromptu video Essays

Pre-recorded video essays

Impromptu video essays.

In this approach, applicants answer interview questions and record a video on the spot. Candidates generally have 30 to 60 seconds to prepare replies and 60 to 90 seconds to record video essays. The time limit may vary from school to school, but the format essentially remains the same, depending on the school’s admissions policies. In this setting, applicants are not given a second chance to answer questions, therefore it’s important to be well-prepared.

In this format, candidates are asked to record a short video answering a specific question or prompt from the admissions committee. The time limit and questions or topics are usually given to you ahead of time, giving you more time to think about your answers and make sure your video essay is the best it can be.

So, which business schools ask for a video essay, and what are their specific guidelines? Let’s understand these in the next section.

Do you want to get into top business schools?

At Crack The MBA, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too. Get in touch with us to learn more about our MBA application services.

MBA Video Essay Questions of Business Schools

To apply to Kellogg’s MBA programs, applicants must send in one program-specific essay, two written MBA admission essays, and answers to three MBA video essays. There are three essay prompts as part of Kellogg’s MBA video essay evaluation process. Applicants have 20 seconds to think about the response to each question and 60 seconds to answer it. The first two questions are set, but the third one is usually chosen at random.

The video essay evaluation process has three questions, each of which is meant to help you show who you are and talk about some of the things that led you to where you are now.

As you get ready to finish this section, here are some things to think about:

  • Video essays have to be turned in 96 hours after application submission.
  • After you send in your application and payment, you will see a link to your video essay on the page that shows the status of your application.
  • You need a computer that can connect to the internet and has a webcam and a microphone.
  • Including the time it takes to set up, making the video should take between 20 and 25 minutes. (This does not include preparation time)

Video essay 1: Please tell the people in charge of admissions about yourself.

Think of this as your chance to tell Kellogg’s admissions committee what you want them to know about you. What makes you, you? To what extent do your personal and professional experiences demonstrate your leadership potential, character traits, and other distinguishing characteristics?

Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

This question was designed to be quite open-ended so that you may respond in a straightforward and relevant way. Kellogg’s admissions committee wants to know why you want to get an MBA and why you want it from Kellogg. To answer this question well, you must:

  • Mention your short-term and long-term career goals after getting your MBA. 
  • Mention certain Kellogg offerings such as classes, clubs, competitions, student names, professors, etc., as well as anything else that is exclusive to Kellogg and could assist you in achieving your post-MBA career goals.

Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Kellogg’s admissions committee wants to learn more about your leadership and personality traits. Ideally, we recommend using the STAR framework to frame your response. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. So, you should talk about the challenge, how you overcame it, and what actions helped you overcome the obstacle. You should also talk about what you learned and how you created a big impact, which you should try to quantify if you can.

Tips from Kellogg’s Admissions Committee

Kellogg’s admissions committee has also shared a few tips to help applicants navigate the video essay section. Here is what they recommend:

  • You can answer practice questions as often as you want to get used to the format and technology. The practice questions and experience are meant to be like the real video essay, so this is a good way to help you feel ready.
  • They strongly recommend you practice so that when it’s time to answer the real questions, you already know how they are set up. This is important because the answers you give in the actual video essay questions cannot be changed.

Here is how the Rotman MBA video essay works. After submitting your application, a company called Kira Talent will send you an email. This email will have a link that gives you access to the video essay platform. Two questions will be asked aloud, one at a time, after you have logged in and begun the session. You will have 30 seconds to think about each question and 90 seconds to answer it. You can’t redo the question, and you only get one chance to answer.

Then, one written question will be sent to you. You’ll be given a question and given 10 minutes to answer it. You should write between 250 and 500 words. The question for the written answer is meant to find out how you would write in a business or school setting.

Questions are chosen at random.

No matter when you send in your application, you need to send in your response to the video essay within two weeks. This can happen no later than two weeks after your target round’s deadline. But you should try to send in the video essay as soon as possible since your application won’t be looked at until the video essay is done.

As part of your application to MIT Sloan, you must send in a video statement along with other documents. Once you have recorded the video you can upload it on the MIT Sloan video statement portal, which is different from how the video essay works at other schools.

Here’s the MIT Sloan video essay prompt: Introduce yourself to your future classmates

Here’s your chance to put a face to a name, show who you are, talk to people, and just be yourself.

Videos should follow these guidelines:

  • No more than one minute (60 seconds)
  • Single take (no editing)
  • Speaking directly into the camera.
  • Don’t add background music or captions.

After you send in your application and pay the fee, you’ll be able to see the video essay questions . The video questions are part of your MBA application, not a replacement for the interview.

A member of the admissions team will ask each candidate a set of random questions that have already been recorded.

The Deputy Director of Admissions, Kristen Mercuri, gives applicants a few tips:

  • Video essays are not a deal-breaker or deal-maker. You can rehearse with the available tool before beginning your recordings, but other than that, no prior preparation is necessary.
  • For the recorded responses, one piece of advice is to get used to the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed or like you only have 10 seconds to say something.
  • Lastly, make sure you have a good internet connection and a private, quiet place to work. 

After you send in your application and are chosen for an interview, the LBS admissions team will send you an email. This email will have a link that lets you get to the platform for video essays. What sets apart LBS’s video essays from many others is that, for LBS, you share it after you are invited for the interview.

After you sign in and start the session, you’ll be asked two questions, one at a time. You’ll have 40 seconds to think about each question and then 90 seconds to answer.

You can’t redo the responses, which means you only get one chance to speak and give your answer.

The first question is chosen at random, and the second is a fixed question: “What will you gain from the London Business School MBA program that you won’t get from another MBA program?”

Kira Talent on behalf of INSEAD will notify you via email with a link to 4 video interviews shortly after you submit your online application to the INSEAD MBA program. The application system dashboard will also display your link.

The video is a one-of-a-kind chance to show the INSEAD admissions committee what drives you, what inspires you, and who you really are. The MBA Admissions Committee wants to observe how you respond to unexpected situations and express yourself in your own words.

Please note that the video interviews are a supplement to in-person interviews with Alumni, not a replacement for them.

INSEAD will not consider your application complete until they have received your responses to the video interviews. Video interviews should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 48 hours after the application deadline.

Here are 11 tips that will help you prepare well and consequently do well on your MBA video essay.

You can also take a look at this video for more helpful tips:

Gather anecdotes, both personal and professional

Most schools ask applicants to think about the questions and answer them in less than a minute. Use the Situation, Task, Action, and Result (STAR) method to answer the questions. Answer the essay questions by talking about a situation you’ve been in, what you did about it, and what happened as a result. Using the STAR method to answer a question will help you say what you need to say quickly and in an impactful manner.

Answer to the point

Many of the video essay questions are about why you want to get an MBA or what your career goals are. Depending on the category, you should make a list of your professional experiences and write your answers around them. Talk about why that business school is a great fit for your career goals when you have the chance. Talk about what your exact goals are and how this program will help you reach them.

Choose a place that is quiet and well-lit

While you’re making the video, there shouldn’t be any noise that gets in your way. To avoid verbal distractions during the interview, ask a friend or family member to monitor the area.

Use good recording equipment

Even though most schools don’t say anything about the video output, it’s best to use a high-quality webcam and microphone to record your video essay. You can use an external webcam to record video if you’re unhappy with the quality captured by your laptop’s internal camera. Make sure the microphone you select allows for clear speech. You must record a test video and check the video quality, audio output, and lighting.

Don’t let your gadgets steal your focus

Before the interview, make sure your phone is set to “Do Not Disturb” mode and close any programs or browser tabs that you don’t need.

Choose a solid color background

It’s best to record in front of a solid color background, so go with something simple if you can. If there are too many things going on behind you, the viewer may not be able to pay attention to what you are saying.

Keep a pen and notepad ready

Have a notepad and pen ready, as most essay questions will give you less than a minute to organize your thoughts before you have to give your answer. You may need a notepad and pen at the table to write down your main points and supporting examples while answering.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take the help of a question bank available online and shared by business schools to practice as many questions as possible. Remember, always practice in the setting that you are going to be in while answering the real video essay prompts.

Record yourself answering the questions on your list using a camera. Having the answers recorded will help you think about how you sound. Start judging the video only after at least a couple of hours have passed as it will give you a fresh perspective. While evaluating, make sure you are not saying fillers like “like..” and “umm…”. Hemming and hawing give the impression that you are unprepared.

Check your posture and facial expressions as you answer the questions. If you don’t like the first try, keep trying until you get the result that you want. Send your final production to people you trust for critique. It’s the best way to figure out what kind of opinions someone will have when evaluating your video essay.

Dress professionally

It is important to dress appropriately for the video essay because it is viewed as a “pre-interview” with the admissions committee.

Maintain a good body language

Body language is a very important thing to keep in mind during your video essay. Make sure to sit up straight during the whole recording and have a smile on your face. The best way to figure out what’s wrong with your body language is to record yourself answering some of the questions on your list and then looking at the video. By practicing while fixing these kinds of mistakes, you can get rid of any nervous ticks before the final take.

Position the camera accordingly to be able to sit in an upright posture

Adjust the webcam so that it is at eye level so that you can answer while maintaining a straight posture. Never answer without first looking directly into the camera.

A video essay is not meant to be scripted but prepared. It’s a way for business schools to check your level of preparedness and awareness with your application. With some organized planning, you can make a great video essay. 

We can help you craft an outstanding video essay. Get in touch with us to know more about our MBA application services.

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Lights, Camera, Acceptance: Crafting Compelling Video/Kira Essays for MBA Admissions

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By Arvind Kumar

23 September 2023

In recent years, the MBA admissions process has evolved to incorporate various innovative elements, and one such element gaining prominence is the video essay.

While traditional written essays and standardized test scores remain significant factors in the application, many top-tier business schools have started asking applicants to submit video essays.

Video essays allow candidates to showcase their personality, communication skills, and suitability for the MBA program. 

In this article, we will delve into the why and how of video essays for MBA admissions, examining their significance, the qualities admissions committees seek, and tips for acing video essays at some of the top business schools.

We’ve also compiled the list of video essay questions for B-schools that include this component in their application process: Northwestern Kellogg, INSEAD, Rotman, Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, Oxford Saïd, IESE and IE.

Why Business Schools Ask for a Video Essay

What do mba video essays entail, types of video essays, northwestern kellogg, rotman school of management, oxford saïd, iese business school, ie business school, creating video/ kira essays for mba admissions: tips for pre-recorded and impromptu versions, final thoughts.

Business schools request video essays as part of the MBA admissions process for various reasons. These video essays offer a unique opportunity to assess applicants beyond traditional written materials. 

Here’s a list of 10 key qualities that business schools are looking for in applicants and how different aspects of the video essay can help assess these qualities:

Communication Skills

  • Quality Demonstrated: Clarity of Expression
  • Video Essay Component: The ability to articulate thoughts coherently and persuasively in the video.

Authenticity

  • Quality Demonstrated: Genuine Self-Presentation
  • Video Essay Component: Authenticity is revealed through unscripted, spontaneous responses that show the real personality of the applicant.

Confidence and Poise

  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Handle Pressure
  • Video Essay Component: Maintaining confidence and composure while responding to unexpected questions or prompts.
  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Capture Attention
  • Video Essay Component: Keeping the viewer engaged by using storytelling techniques and compelling anecdotes.

Cultural Fit

  • Quality Demonstrated: Alignment with School Values
  • Video Essay Component: Demonstrating enthusiasm for the school and its culture through genuine expressions of interest.

Problem-Solving Skills

  • Quality Demonstrated: Analytical Thinking
  • Video Essay Component: Responding effectively to complex or challenging questions, showcasing problem-solving abilities.

Leadership Potential

  • Quality Demonstrated: Presence and Influence
  • Video Essay Component: Portraying oneself as a confident and impactful leader who inspires and motivates others.

Teamwork and Collaboration

  • Quality Demonstrated: Ability to Work Well with Others
  • Video Essay Component: Sharing experiences highlighting teamwork, cooperation, and the ability to collaborate effectively.

Adaptability

  • Quality Demonstrated: Flexibility and Resilience
  • Video Essay Component: Adapting to unexpected prompts and situations, demonstrating the ability to think on one’s feet.

Passion and Drive

  • Quality Demonstrated: Enthusiasm and Commitment
  • Video Essay Component: Conveying genuine passion for one’s goals and showcasing the drive to make a meaningful impact.

These qualities are essential for success in an MBA program and in the business world. The video essay serves as a valuable tool for admissions committees to assess these qualities in applicants, allowing them to make more informed decisions about who would thrive in their academic environment and contribute positively to their MBA community. 

As an applicant, you should use the video essay as an opportunity to showcase your unique strengths and qualities that set you apart from the competition.

MBA video essays involve candidates responding to prompts from the admissions committee through self-recorded videos instead of relying on written responses.

This component has been introduced as an additional element in the application process for select business schools, without replacing traditional written MBA admission essays or the final admission interview.

It’s worth highlighting that due to the relatively recent incorporation of this concept into the MBA application process, different business schools may use varying terminology.

For instance, Kellogg Business School may label it as a video essay, while INSEAD may term it a Video Interview, and MIT may refer to it as a Video Statement. Despite the nomenclature differences, they all essentially entail the same process, with the only potential variation being the video essay’s format.

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There are generally two types of video essays asked in MBA admissions: Live/Impromptu and Pre-recorded. Each type serves a unique purpose and presents its own set of challenges and advantages.

Live/Impromptu Video Essays

Live or impromptu video essays require MBA applicants to respond to questions or prompts in real time.

Candidates are typically given a limited amount of time to prepare their thoughts, often ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Once the preparation time is up, they must begin recording their response immediately. 

This format aims to assess an applicant’s ability to think on their feet, communicate clearly, and maintain composure under pressure. Admissions committees use live video essays to gauge an individual’s spontaneity, poise, and how effectively they can address unexpected topics or situations.

Pre-recorded Video Essays

Pre-recorded video essays, on the other hand, allow MBA applicants more control over the timing of their responses.

In this format, candidates receive a set of questions or prompts in advance and are allotted a specific amount of time to record their answers. This time frame typically ranges from a few hours to several days, depending on the business school’s requirements. 

Pre-recorded video essays allow applicants to carefully craft and rehearse their responses, emphasizing their communication skills, creativity, and thoughtfulness in addressing the given prompts. This format allows for a more polished presentation but still evaluates an applicant’s ability to convey their ideas effectively through video.

Which business schools ask to submit a video essay?

Applicants are required to complete three video essay questions as part of their application.

These questions provide a valuable opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality, communication skills, and alignment with Kellogg’s values. The video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline, so plan your application timeline accordingly. 

Remember that you have a 20-second preparation period and up to one minute to respond. Use the prep time wisely to outline your answer mentally, and then deliver a clear and concise response within the allotted minute.

Let’s delve into each of the three video essay questions:

Question 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

The introduction sets the tone for your application.

Be concise, authentic, and memorable. Start with a brief overview of your background, highlighting key experiences that have shaped your journey.

Mention your name, current profession, and what drives your passion for pursuing an MBA at Kellogg. Use this opportunity to provide a glimpse of your unique personality and values.

Question 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

Tip: This question demands a strategic approach.

Clearly articulate your career goals, emphasizing both short-term and long-term objectives.

Explain why Kellogg is your ideal platform for achieving these goals. Mention specific resources, courses, or aspects of the Kellogg program that align with your aspirations.

Your response should reflect a deep understanding of Kellogg’s offerings and a strong connection between your goals and the school’s unique advantages.

Question 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Tip: Use this question to highlight your resilience and growth. Choose a challenge, either personal or professional, that showcases your ability to overcome adversity and learn from the experience.

Describe the challenge briefly, focusing more on the lessons learned and how it has influenced your character and decision-making.

Conclude by explaining how these lessons will contribute to your success as an MBA candidate at Kellogg.

Compilation of Kellogg Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Introduce yourself outside of your CV.
  • Tell us something about yourself that we won’t know from your resume
  • There are many MBA schools. What’s so unique about Kellogg?
  • How long have you been considering an MBA and what have you learned about your goals in this time?
  • Whose leadership style do you admire the most and you wish to adopt?
  • Tell us about a time you were uncomfortable. How did you feel?
  • What is one misconception coworkers have about you and how do you plan to change that?
  • Tell us about the best piece of advice you have received, how you utilized it and how it impacted you?
  • Tell us about a time you received harsh feedback. What was your reaction and how did you proceed to act on it?
  • Tell us about one time when you received feedback that changed your perspective about something
  • Tell us about  time you received feedback that you didn’t agree with
  • Tell us about a time when you helped improved a process in your company, organization or community
  • When and how did you resolve a conflict?
  • Tell us about a time when you faced unforeseen or unexpected challenges
  • Tell us about a time you failed and used an unconventional approach the next time. What happened?
  • Tell us about a time when a conflict affected the productivity of the team? How did you handle it? What did you learn from it?
  • Tell us about a time where an unexpected situation arose? Why did it arise? What did you do to pivot and why?
  • Tell us about a time where you used a unique or creative way to solve a problem. What did you do and what was the outcome?
  • What is one value or quality that you bring to the Kellogg community and how will it help others?
  • Tell us about an experience outside school and outside office that motivated you to pursue a postgraduate education?
  • Tell us about a time you leveraged a professional relationship to achieve your goals
  • Tell us how you created an environment where differences and diverse ideas are respected. What was the outcome?
  • Tell us about a time you added value in a professional capacity 
  • Tell us about a time when you had to ask for help. What did you learn?

Note: Please consider this list indicative and not exhaustive

After you’ve successfully submitted your INSEAD MBA online application, an email notification from Kira Talent will swiftly arrive in your inbox, containing a unique link for you to embark on four video interviews. 

These interviews entail answering four distinct questions, and it’s essential to note that the questions presented to you may differ from those posed to other applicants. You’ll have a brief 45 seconds to prepare for each question and a minute to articulate your response.

These video interviews present a distinct opportunity for you to unveil your passions, motivations, and your true essence. The MBA Admissions Committee seeks an authentic portrayal of you as an individual, eager to witness your ability to think on your feet and effectively communicate your thoughts.

It’s important to emphasize that these video interviews do not replace face-to-face/online interviews with Alumni, which will still be a part of the assessment process. The video essay has to be submitted within 48 hours after the deadline of the Round in which you apply to INSEAD.

Tips for INSEAD Video Essay

  • To ensure a seamless experience, INSEAD recommends using either Microsoft Edge or Chrome for recording your Kira videos. Preparing extensively by practicing is encouraged, as it allows you to convey authentic and genuine responses, even though the practice questions and your responses won’t be disclosed to the Admissions Committee.
  • Before you begin recording, conduct a brief technology check by testing your camera and microphone. Once satisfied with the technical aspects, shift your focus to the camera, envisioning that you are addressing the Admissions Committee directly.
  • Wear Business or Business Casual Attire.
  • Lastly, consider keeping a notebook handy during the interviews to jot down key ideas. Remember, you’ll have just 45 seconds to prepare for each answer, followed by 60 seconds to deliver your response to the Admissions Committee.

Compilation of INSEAD MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • What keeps you engaged and motivated at work?
  • How will INSEAD help you achieve your professional objectives?
  • Describe a time when you saw someone else doing something differently. How did you react?
  • Describe a time when you received negative feedback. How did you feel?
  • Do you consider yourself to be creative?
  • What do you think is the biggest challenge in leading a global team?
  • If you look back 10 years into your life, what would success mean to you?
  • Who or what inspires you the most?
  • What is the leadership quality you admire? Why?
  • How do you handle frustration at work and give constructive criticism?
  • How can INSEAD help you to contribute to the community?
  • What skills do you think you are missing that you want to work on while at INSEAD?
  • Tell us about something that your family or company borrowed from someone else, its advantages and its disadvantages
  • Why should we select you?
  • Tell us about the most pressing climate concern today and how you will tackle it?
  • How do you handle frustration at work? How do you openly communicate to resolve the frustration?
  • Are you aware of your biases? How does that affect your thoughts?
  • If you were given unlimited resources, which product or services would you offer to community and why?
  • What are your guiding principles or involvement in Coporate and Social Responsibility
  • How is diversity handled at your organization?
  • Tell us about a new app that was released in the past 3 and has resonated with you.
  • What do you think are the qualities of a good friend.
  • How do you generate ideas
  • What would you do if a new boss was acting in a surprising or offensive way to the local culture
  • A teammate of yours is shy of speaking out. How would you help them?
  • Most challenging decision you have taken?
  • Has your family or company adopted anything from other culture? What impact (positive or negative) it has had on you?
  • If you won 10 billion dollars, what would you do?
  • What is the most difficult aspect of working with you?
  • What do you think people often misunderstand about you?
Applying to INSEAD? Learn from Adhiraj’s successful journey to the INSEAD MBA with scholarships

Once you’ve submitted your application, expect an email from Kira Talent, a designated service provider. Within this email, you will discover a link granting access to the video essay platform, a crucial component of Rotman’s application process, which comprises two video questions.

Upon accessing the platform and initiating the session, you will be presented with a total of two spoken questions, delivered sequentially, one after the other.

Once you receive the question, you will be granted a 30-second window for contemplation, followed by a 90-second timeframe for your response. It’s essential to note that there are no opportunities for revisiting or reattempting the question; you have just one opportunity to express your thoughts and provide your answer.

Regardless of when you initially submit your application, remember that the clock starts ticking once you access the video essay platform. You must submit your video essay response within two weeks of submitting your application to complete this vital step in the Rotman admissions process.

Once you’ve successfully submitted your application, expect an email notification from Kira Talent, the designated company for Yale’s video essay component. Inside this email, you’ll find a link that grants access to the video essay platform.

Upon logging in and commencing the session, you’ll encounter a total of three Yale video essay questions, presented one at a time. These questions are randomly generated but fall into distinct categories, each with its own focus.

The Yale video essay questions are thoughtfully categorized into three groups:

  • MBA Motivations (Group 1) : The initial question in the Yale SOM video essay will center on your motivations, specifically regarding your interest in Yale or the rationale behind pursuing an MBA.
  • Behavioral Questions (Group 2) : Yale values individuals who embody purpose-driven adaptability, teamwork, and strong communication skills. Therefore, they often pose questions aimed at assessing your ability to collaborate effectively and your potential to contribute positively to the Yale community.
  • The Thinking Question (Group 3) : In addition to traditional interview queries, you will be tasked with responding to a “thinking question,” akin to a case study, during the Yale video essay. This question serves to evaluate your ability to think on your feet, a crucial aspect tested in Yale’s raw case method.

As you approach these questions, keep in mind that for the first and third, you’ll have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to provide your response. However, for the second question, you’ll be granted 30 seconds of preparation time and 90 seconds to articulate your answer.

Regardless of when you submit your initial application, remember that it’s imperative to complete and submit your responses to the Yale video essay questions within a maximum of 48 hours following the round’s application deadline. This ensures your application remains complete and on schedule.

Compilation of Yale SOM Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Why are you doing an MBA now?
  • What motivates you to get an MBA at this point?
  • Tell us about a time when a team member was not doing his share of work and how you handled it
  • Tell us about a time you or your team fixed a critical problem at work
  • Tell us about a problem that you solved by breaking down into its pieces
  • Tell us about a time when there was a potential problem at work and how did you prevent it?
  •  Mention a vague problem that was given to you and how did you solve it?
  • Tell us about a teacher who has impacted you in life?
  •  Yale School of Drama has produced many world renowned artists (e.g. Meryl Streep). Which artist do you admire most and why?
  • Which type of art holds significance to you among the various arts across Yale Center for European arts, Yale Center for Natural arts and Yale Center for British arts?
  • New Haven has great architectural significance ( something along these lines ). What piece of architecture has the greatest significance to you in your hometown or region? Why? 
  • What is a tradition you hold dear to yourself?

Question: “Please take a minute to introduce yourself to your future classmates.”

This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and make a personal connection. Unveil your true self, let your personality sparkle, and have a genuine conversation – this is your moment to shine.

Keep the following criteria in mind when creating your videos for MIT:

  • Keep it under 60 seconds, no more!
  • Record it all in a single take, no editing allowed.
  • Speak directly into the camera.
  • Avoid adding background music or subtitles to your video.

In order to learn more about applicants and assess their ability to think quickly, Oxford Saïd’s MBA application process includes an online assessment.

Once the MBA application is submitted, you will find a link in the application status portal. This link allows you to register with Kira Talent, the online assessment platform, and complete the assessment. The assessment can be done anytime before the application deadline for the desired stage, for instance, Round 1 applicants must complete the assessment by the Round 1 deadline.

The online assessment consists of three parts:

  • Two motivation-based questions that all candidates must answer. These questions aim to let you explain your reasons for pursuing an MBA and why you believe the Oxford MBA is the best fit for you. Each applicant receives the same two questions.

Example: “Why do you think pursuing an MBA is the next step in your career?”

  • One competency-based question chosen randomly from a pool of available questions. This question allows you to demonstrate skills and qualities such as decision-making, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, influencing, change management, and communication.

Example: “Could you share an experience where you successfully handled a challenging situation, either in your professional or personal life? How did you approach resolving it?”

  • A written response (essay), which will be randomized and light-hearted to display how you can think on your feet and write.

Example: “What was your favorite book as a child and why?”

For each motivation-based question, you have 60 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to respond. For each competency-based question, there is 45 seconds of preparation time followed by 60 seconds to provide an answer.

It’s important to note that there are no opportunities to redo the questions, and you have only one chance to respond and share your answers during the assessment. The entire online assessment should take about 30 minutes to complete, so plan accordingly.

Compilation of Oxford Saïd MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • Since how long have you wanted to do your MBA? Why now is the right time and what skills do you hope to gain?
  • Students apply to many programmes and B schools. According to you, what makes Oxford unique?
  • Tell us about a time you were overloaded with work, how did you handle it?
  • Tell us about a time you asked for help and how did it go?
  • Tell us about a time you led a diverse team, what specific skill did you use and why?
  • Tell us a time when you had an idea and had to convince your project team.
  • What is the most significant personal weakness that you have identified, what did you do about it and what was the result?
  • Imagine you are proposing a business innovation idea for a class project and the audience is not interested. What would you do?
  • How would you convince a team about your idea if you were sure of its positive outcome?
  • How do you describe the color red to someone who can only see in black and white? 
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs? Explain why.

IESE Business School has introduced Video Essays as part of the application process this year, replacing the previous personal essay requirement.

The purpose of this change is to gain a deeper and more authentic understanding of applicants. It allows the Admissions Committee to get insights into the thought process and communication style of each candidate.

After submitting the written application and paying the required fees, you will receive a Kira Video Essay link within 24 hours, to be completed by the Application Round Deadline. This link will expire 48 hours after receipt. You will receive detailed instructions along with the link. Upon clicking the link, you can create a Kira account and practice before recording your video essay.

Each applicant will need to respond to two video essay questions. For each question, there will be a preparation time before recording the response.

Applicants are encouraged to be concise, as they have a limited time of 1.5 minutes to provide each answer. The Admissions Committee values authenticity and is interested in getting to know the real applicant, rather than hearing what they think the committee wants to hear.

It’s important to note that the application will be considered complete and ready for review only after all components, including the video essays, have been submitted.

Compilation of IESE MBA Video Essay questions (2023) 

  • How do we pronounce your name?
  • Tell us something about you not in your resume.
  • Tell us something that’s unique about you – traits and attributes uniquely you.
  • What is the one feedback you received that you didn’t agree with? How did you react and what was the outcome?
  • Every team has a certain archetype: architect, analyst etc. Which archetype are you when you play in a team? And why?
  •  Tell us one thing you like and one thing you don’t like about your current job.
  • Give a background of yourself and what abilities you can bring to the IESE MBA.
  • When was the last time you were creative.
Check out our interview with IESE MBA Adcom including insights on the application process, interviews, careers and more here

This year, IE Business School has introduced a video essay to get to know you better. The online assessment is quick and won’t take more than 30 minutes.

IE Business School has added this to its admissions process because they believe in innovation. This part of the process helps them understand your personality and how you respond in real time. 

You’ll need a computer with an internet connection, a microphone, and a webcam. You’ll answer three live questions – two in video format and one in writing. You can practice several times, but remember, once you officially start the assessment, you only have one chance to respond. You have one week from when you submitted your online admissions application to complete this online assessment.

Video essays have become a vital component of the MBA admissions process, offering applicants a unique platform to showcase their personality and communication skills. Whether it’s a pre-recorded or impromptu video essay, here are ten tips to help you excel in this aspect of your application:

Understand the Purpose

  • Pre-Recorded: Pre-recorded video essays often have prompts that allow for structured responses. Understand the specific question and ensure your video essay directly addresses it.
  • Impromptu: In impromptu video essays, you may not know the questions in advance. Focus on providing insightful, concise answers to the given prompts.
  • Pre-Recorded: Use your allotted time efficiently. Be concise in your response while ensuring you provide a complete and well-structured answer.
  • Impromptu: Stay on point and avoid rambling. Use the given preparation time to outline your response and make your points concisely during the recording.

Prepare Thoroughly

  • Pre-Recorded: Take time to brainstorm ideas, outline your response, and rehearse multiple times. Ensure your message is clear and compelling.
  • Impromptu: Since you may have limited time to prepare, practice answering diverse types of questions to build your ability to think on your feet. Doing Mock Interviews can particularly help.

Showcase Your Personality

  • Pre-Recorded: Your video should provide a glimpse of your character and values. Let your authenticity shine through by being yourself.
  • Impromptu: Be genuine in your responses. Authenticity is highly valued in impromptu video essays.

Maintain Eye Contact

  • Pre-Recorded: Look directly into the camera to establish a connection with the viewer. This creates a sense of engagement and sincerity.
  • Impromptu: Even when you don’t know the questions in advance, maintain eye contact with the camera during your responses to appear confident and composed.

Have a Strong Opening and Closing

  • Pre-Recorded: Begin with a compelling introduction and end with a memorable conclusion that reinforces your main points.
  • Impromptu: Use the initial seconds to frame your response and conclude succinctly by summarizing your key message.

Eliminate Distractions

  • Pre-Recorded: Choose a quiet, well-lit location with minimal distractions for your recording. Ensure your background is professional.
  • Impromptu: Find a quiet spot where you can focus solely on your response without interruptions.

Manage your Time Well

  • Pre-Recorded: Allocate sufficient time for recording, reviewing, and editing if necessary. Avoid rushing the process.
  • Impromptu: Manage your time wisely during preparation and response. Stick to the given time limits.

Rehearse Video Recording Technology

  • Pre-Recorded: Familiarize yourself with the recording equipment and software. Ensure your audio and video quality are top-notch.
  • Impromptu: Check your internet connection, camera, and microphone in advance to avoid technical glitches.

Seek Feedback

  • Pre-Recorded: Share your video with mentors, advisors or trusted friends to gather constructive feedback and make improvements.
  • Impromptu: After practicing impromptu responses, seek feedback on your communication skills and clarity.

In both pre-recorded and impromptu video essays, the key is effectively communicating your message while showcasing your suitability for the MBA program. With preparation, practice, and attention to these tips, you can create impressive video essays that enhance your MBA application.

In an increasingly competitive MBA admissions landscape, video essays offer you a chance to stand out and convey your unique value to the business school of your choice.

Use this opportunity to not only address the questions asked but also to paint a vivid picture of your aspirations, experiences, and character. It’s a tool that, when used effectively, can elevate your application and set you on the path to success in your MBA journey. So, embrace the challenge, be yourself, and make your video essay a compelling testament to your candidacy.

If you would like our support on your B-school applications, feel free to reach out!

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MBA Video Essays: What You Need to Know Before You Hit ‘Record’

mba video essays

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, MBA video essays are a requirement for many modern business school applications. While not all schools include them in their admissions process (yet), top programs such as Rotman, Yale, and Kellogg are using video essays as a tool to get a sneak peek at how their candidates fare off-paper.

MBA video essays can take on different forms but the most common is in the form of a filmed interview. Once you begin, you will be provided with a list of questions that require a timed response. 

While this format slightly resembles that of an in-person interview, the experience of a video essay is much different. When engaging with another person, you have the opportunity to direct your answer based on subtle cues provided by your interviewer (i.e. an understanding nod, verbal affirmations… a look of extreme boredom). Unfortunately, video cameras give no such feedback. 

Many people find video essays to be more challenging than interviews or even written essays. Because there is little time to prepare your answer and no cues to indicate how you’re performing, they require quick thinking and leave no room for second guessing.

If the prospect of recording your MBA application video essay is totally stressing you out, we come bearing good news. While the idea of being on camera is a nerve racking prospect for many MBA hopefuls, your video essay is more likely to be a positive contribution to your application than a deal breaker. 

Be Prepared.

As with interviews, the key to a successful MBA video essay is getting in plenty of practice. Because there is no such thing as a right or wrong answer when it comes to this part of your MBA application, the best answers are those delivered with confidence and authenticity. 

Key things to consider when preparing for your MBA video essay:

1. Responses to the video essay questions are timed so you must be succinct! Set a stopwatch and time your responses to some sample questions. Afterward, gather your thoughts and plan a way to deliver them in a concise and thorough manner. Then, answer again with a timer set for one minute. You may be surprised to discover how much you can actually communicate in 60 seconds.

2. Film yourself while practicing so you become comfortable with speaking into a camera. When you watch the footage, be aware of your body language, eye contact, vocal cadence, tone, and hand gestures. The key is to come across as thoughtfully natural. Be deliberate, not sloppy!

3. Most schools don’t provide their applicants with the questions they’ll be asked during their video essay... so while you may not know exactly how you’ll answer, keep in mind that all schools are looking for students with a clear understanding of their goals and positive assets. To prepare, make sure you can easily explain why you want to get your MBA and know the unique contributions you can make to their school. Use your responses to support the content in your application as you exhibit enthusiasm and earnesty.

Sample MBA video essay questions to answer while you practice:

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Who has had a powerful influence on your life and why?

Set the Scene.

Pro Tip: Don’t wait until the day of to determine where and when you want to do your MBA video essay. Nothing will throw your game off more than being interrupted by a roommate or a barking dog. Be sure you set yourself up for success simply by planning ahead.

Plan ahead using these tips:

1. Straighten up. This should go without saying but an unmade bed or a sink full of dirty dishes in the background will come across as careless and unprofessional. We aren’t suggesting you spend an entire day cleaning house, but an hour-long tidy will make a dramatic difference. Better yet, save some time and film against a blank wall.

2. If you want to wow the admissions committee with your charming personality, they need to be able to see your face. Be sure to record your video essay in a well lit room. Avoid backlighting or filming at night. If possible, choose a seat where you will be illuminated by a window.

3. The most critical element of all video essays is that you use an effective microphone. Test yours out beforehand to ensure you are speaking clearly and loudly. With all the effort you’re going to put into practicing and setting up, it would be a shame if the admissions committee were unable hear a word you say!

Don’t Worry.

Above all, relax. The MBA video essay is a relatively small part of your application so try not to let your nerves take over. Remember that this is your opportunity to let your personality really shine so don’t get so wrapped up in what you say that you forget to demonstrate who you are. Set aside the time to properly prepare, put on a suit and a smile, and let the camera roll!

Admit.me Expert Staff

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mba video essays

December 12, 2022

How to Make a Stand-Out MBA Application Video

How to make a stand out MBA application video

Presenting yourself effectively on video has become an essential part of the MBA application process. Admissions officers expect you to be able to capture their attention on the small screen. It’s an opportunity for them to see you think on your feet and speak ‘unscripted.’

What MBA programs want to see

  • Kellogg says their optional video essay is an opportunity for you “to showcase your personality.”
  • INSEAD sees the video essay as a method for you to “share your passions, your motivations and who you truly are.”
  • Yale says the video questions “provide a unique way for us to assess your communication skills” and to view a candidate’s “multi-dimensional” profile. 

These are just a few of several schools that also include a video component in the application. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all schools allow candidates to select a video interview. Video essays are required or optional among top schools like Kellogg, INSEAD, Yale, MIT, Rotman, and more.

For these schools (and for the rest of your career), your ability to command attention on a video format will become an integral part of your success – and could hold even more weight than the interview!

Types of MBA video essays

Research each program’s application requirements to understand what you should expect when you sit down to record your video essay.

For the most part, schools will provide you with a link to a web-based platform where you can record your video using the webcam on your laptop or smartphone. 

Video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline. 

A video essay link will appear on your application status page after you submit your application and payment and take you to the Kira platform. 

You receive three questions, one at a time. You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to give your response.

INSEAD also uses the Kira platform. 

You will receive four questions that come one at a time. 

After each question, you will have 45 seconds to prepare and 1 minute to respond. You cannot redo your answer. It must be recorded in one take. 

(See here for requirements for Yale , Rotman )

MIT Sloan is an exception.

You get to prepare and deliver a video statement to introduce yourself to your future classmates. It must conform to the following criteria:

  • No more than 1 minute (60 seconds) in length
  • Single take (no editing)
  • Speak directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

How to prepare for your MBA video essay

While the prospect of a single-take video essay may be alarming, don’t worry, here are some suggestions to make sure you’re confident and prepared ! They are also useful if it’s not a one-take video.

  • Check the details Before you start, read over any provided materials from your school. Know the deadline for when your video response must be completed, what program you’re applying to, and if they have any special requests. Many programs even have admissions blog posts about what they’re looking for to help you strategize the key points you want to strike in your response. This may sound redundant, but if you have multiple schools requiring video essays, knowing exactly what each program expects is very important.
  • Set the scene for your video essay Find a well-lit setting and turn on your webcam and adjust your location to ensure you have a clear backdrop behind you. Windows, mirrors, or cluttered walls or shelves are best avoided if possible. Adjust your lighting and position to find an arrangement that shines light on your face, rather than backlighting you.  There’s no set uniform for video essays, but I recommend comfortable, clean, business casual attire. Play it safe with solid colors and comfortable materials so the viewer can focus on the content of your responses. Once you’ve established your environment, let anyone whom you share a household or office with know not to disturb you. Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door if you must!
  • Prepare your device Picture this: You’re in the middle of your response and a pesky pop-up notification appears on your screen and creates a distraction. Or better yet, you ignore the notification and your computer restarts before you’ve completed all of the questions!  So before you start recording, close any programs that might prompt you with push notifications or pop-ups and ensure your software is up-to-date. Check to see if you have at least an hour of battery life or, better yet, plug into a power source.
  • “Tell us about yourself.”
  • “Why do you want to attend our program?”
  • “Describe one of your favorite hobbies and why it is important to you?”
  • Notetaking During the time you have to prep your answer, it can be helpful to draw simple pictures on your notepad that symbolize what you want to say, rather than words. That can help guide you and are ‘stickier’ in your brain. Then put the notepad to the side, AND DO NOT LOOK AT IT while you respond. You need to look directly at the camera.
  • Keep calm and crush this video Get a glass of water. Remember to pause and catch your breath. Do a stretch. Listen to your cheesiest pump up song ( Eye of the Tiger , anyone?) Whatever you need to do to get in the zone. Remember to take your time with your response, be yourself, and speak from the heart, and you’ll do great.

If you would like help with your video essay, Accepted’s experienced  MBA admissions experts , who have been prepping and critiquing MBA applicants for almost twenty years, are more than  happy to help you .

Michelle Stockman Admissions Expert

Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.  Want Michelle to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Molly McCracken

Molly McCracken is a Career Advisor & Internship Facilitator at Western University, previously an admissions editor & higher ed consultant at  Kira Talent , an education technology company that builds holistic admissions solutions in Toronto, Canada.

MBA Interview Prep: How to Ace Your Interviews

Related resources:

  • Preparing to Ace Your MBA Interview , a free guide
  • Seven Tips for MBA Interview Prep
  • Preparing for Your MBA Interview Questions

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Advice, tips and insights from the admissions dream team., table of contents, mba video essay tips + sample video questions.

  • By Caroline Diarte Edwards

The video component in MBA applications has become more common among top MBA programs over the last several years. Just this month, Texas McCombs reduced its written essays to a single required question and debuted a seven-question video assessment.

After more than two years of pandemic-imposed Zoom meetings, most of us are well-practiced at talking into our computer screens. But if you think the MBA video questions are an easy win, think again. Says veteran Fortuna Admissions coach  Cassandra Pittman , a Columbia MBA and former member of the admissions teams at both INSEAD and London Business School: “You may be surprised at just how much easier and more natural talking to a computer feels when you know there’s a human listening at the other end and a clock isn’t ticking down every single second.”

The MBA admissions committee wants a peek into who you are in an unscripted way – your motivations, your personality, your communication style. They want to know how you think on your feet (a vital skill in the MBA classroom). For non-native speakers, it’s also an assessment of your verbal communication skills. But the video questions are also a great opportunity for candidates – it gives you another way to express yourself and let your personality shine (some people struggle to bring their story to life in written essays).

3 Tips on How to Prepare for the MBA Video Questions

Cassandra, who has successfully rehearsed MBA candidates since the video questions debuted, distills her best advice into three key tips:

1.  Don’t just rehearse. Dress rehearse.

Video questions vary slightly school by school. Some schools, like London Business School and Kellogg , let you know some or all of the questions in advance. Others, like Rotman and INSEAD, select them entirely at random. Texas McCombs may be a mix of both – with five randomly generated prompts plus two every candidate will answer. Meanwhile, MIT Stern asks you to ‘introduce yourself’ in no more than 60 seconds.

No matter which schools you are applying to, match your practice as close to what your real-life experience will be. This means recording yourself in a single take, to time, with no one else on the other end of the line.

For questions you know you are going to get in advance, you can practice many times until you feel you’ve got your answers down. To practice randomized questions, research a list of sample questions and answer three at a time. Do not allow yourself to re-record if you don’t like your answers. Instead, send them to someone for feedback — an admissions coach if you are working with one, or a trusted friend or mentor if you aren’t. (If you can’t find a feedback buddy, evaluate yourself, but it’s best to watch them at least a day after recording in that case). Do this as many times as is necessary until you feel comfortable, not only answering the questions you practice but thinking on your feet to answer any question that may come up within the allotted time.

2. Set the stage.

A common question applicants have is, ‘do I need to wear a suit?’ The answer is no (although you are welcome to) but appearance does matter (view this related article by Fortuna’s Karen Hamou, What to Wear on Video ). Recommended dress is business casual, but on video, your appearance doesn’t stop there; it’s everything that the camera and microphone pick up.

So, before you record, set the stage. Pick a spot to record where your background is uncluttered (a bare wall behind you is often best). Check that you are well-lit (if lighting is an issue, consider purchasing an inexpensive USB ring light). And, finally, make sure your voice is clear and easy to hear. In most cases, this will mean using an external microphone or headset, as inbuilt microphones on even the best computers can be insufficient.

3. Smile like you mean it.

Unless you are already a TikTok star, you are likely to find it a little weird talking to a computer with no one connected on the other end. It’s a situation that naturally lends itself to a somewhat robotic style of communication – after all, you’re talking to a machine. As admissions committees are looking to get a sense of warmth and personality that they cannot glean from your written essays, it’s vital that you convey enthusiasm and emotive impact. The very best way to do this is with appropriate smiling. Your feedback buddy should tell you if you’re going overboard, but in my experience, applicants are much more likely to underdo it than to overdo it, so when in doubt, err on the side of great, big smiles.

Sample Video Questions

View this video strategy session with Fortuna’s experts hosted by the GMAT Club. And as a starting point, here are 10 practice questions to work with:

1. How would your boss describe you?

2. What risks have you taken in your life and what did you learn from them?

3. Did you ever get negative feedback, and if so, how did you react?

4. If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

5. Who has had the greatest impact on you and why?

6. What is your favorite book and why?

7. What will your classmates be surprised to learn about you?

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?

9. What is the most meaningful thing you have done for anyone else?

10. Tell us which project in your work has been a key milestone in your career and why?

What Success Looks Like

Be yourself, be authentic, and avoid being overly scripted or rehearsed. While practice is essential for conveying your story powerfully and concisely, you’ll want to maintain a conversational tone. (View the 6-minute strategy session on how to tackle the MBA video questions with Fortuna’s Melissa Jones and Poets&Quants’ John Byrne, above.)

Also, convey confident body language. While most candidates overfocus on what to say, in reality, it is how to say it – along with other non-verbal cues ­– that can have an even greater influence on the impression you give in a video. If you’re using a laptop, I suggest standing it on a shoebox or a pile of books so that the camera is level with your eyes – you don’t want to be peering down at the viewer (and it’s rarely a flattering angle).

Fortuna’s Sharon Joyce is a big fan of adding two minutes of ‘ power-posing ’ to your prep ritual. Not only is it a set-up for a more effective interview experience, but research shows it boosts your internal state by making you feel more powerful. As you practice, inventory your visual rapport – from your posture and expression down to your breathing, gestures, and energy. As you do, visualize success.

Before going on camera, ask yourself these five questions:

1. Do I sound natural and can I hear myself well?

2. Am I ready to offer concise, interesting, and genuine responses?

3. Is the background uncluttered, pleasant, and absent of distractions?

4. Is my face well illuminated?

5. Are my non-verbals consistent with how I’d show up for an in-person interview (e.g. posture, attire, and general presentation)?

Mistakes to Avoid for Your MBA Video Questions

1. Not managing your time. It can be stressful when you know the clock is ticking down: for example, with INSEAD you have just 60 seconds to respond to the question. I’ve seen candidates take half that time for their preamble, so inevitably they don’t manage to convey their full response. Get straight to the point, and don’t try to cram in too much – you have to keep things short and sweet.

2. Speaking mechanically. This is all too common when you’re talking to a screen without a person on the other end. While it’s awkward and somewhat artificial not having the real-time feedback of watching someone react to what you are saying, make the effort to be lively. You won’t have the benefit of seeing an interviewer’s eyes glaze over when you go off track, or light up when your response to their question resonates with them — and this lack of interaction can be disorientating.

3. Repeating your written narrative. Finally, avoid regurgitating what you’ve already said in your MBA essays – admissions reviewers want to learn something new. Your entire application should convey a coherent narrative and avoid duplication.

When you enjoy yourself, it shines through and makes a connection with the viewer. It’s remarkable how a smile can animate your whole being – your face, your voice, and your message. Using your hands while you talk may also help you inject some liveliness into your delivery. We tend to speak in more of a monotone when we are still.

Lastly, keep some perspective. The video component is just one piece of the MBA application puzzle that helps the admissions committee assemble a picture of who you are and what you would bring to the school. So, while your video responses matter, remember that they doesn’t carry more weight than the other application elements, such as your MBA essays , letters of recommendation , or MBA interview . Try to think of the videos not as just another hoop you have to jump through, but as another opportunity to shine, and to communicate to the admissions committee that you’re someone they want to know better by inviting you to interview.

Let’s Get You In.

Fortuna Admissions is a dream team of former MBA admissions directors and officers from 18 of the top 20 business schools. With our unparalleled collective expertise, we can coach you to develop a clear vision of your goals for business school and beyond. We work closely with you throughout the application process and provide expert guidance at every stage to maximize your chances of admission to a top school.

Our free consultations are consistently rated as the best in the industry. To learn more about Fortuna and assess your chances of admission to Wharton and other top programs, request a  free consultation .

mba video essays

Fortuna Admissions Co-Director Caroline Diarte Edwards  is the former INSEAD director of admissions, marketing and financial aid. She is also an alumna of INSEAD’s MBA program. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for  a free consultation .

  • Posted on June 21, 2022

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B-Schooled Podcast Episode #188: Ace Your MBA Video Essays

B-Schooled

This week’s encore episode of B-Schooled covers how to prepare for the various kinds of video essays (pre-recorded, recorded live with known questions, and recorded live with randomized questions) that several MBA programs require. You’ll also glean general tips on what you should wear, where you should record, and more.

Listen to B-Schooled episode #188 here or on any of the podcast apps listed below. If you need more personalized guidance, check out SBC’s video interview/video prep services!

B-Schooled is available on most major podcast apps, including:

Apple Podcasts Spotify TuneIn

Please be sure to subscribe to  B-Schooled  so that you don’t miss a thing. Also, if there’s something you’d like for us to cover in a future episode, please email  podcast@stacyblackman.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team .

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School HBS MBA

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School Kellogg MBA

Director HBS Admissions at Harvard Business School MBA, the Wharton School

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School

Director HBS Admissions at Harvard Business School HBS MBA

Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)

Asst Director MBA Admissions at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) Director MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) Minority Admissions, the GSB Diversity Programs, the GSB

Associate Director MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Associate Director MBA Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute

Director, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Professional Writer

Assistant Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS) NYU Admissions

Assistant Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS) M.S.Ed, Higher Education, U of Pennsylvania

Associate Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS)

Ashley is a former MBA Admissions Board Member for Harvard Business School (HBS), where she interviewed and evaluated thousands of business school applicants for over a six year tenure.  Ashley  holds an MBA from HBS. During her HBS years,  Ashley  was the Sports Editor for the Harbus and a member of the B-School Blades Ice Hockey Team. After HBS, she worked in Marketing at the Gillette Company on Male and Female shaving ...

Kerry is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). During her 5+ year tenure at HBS, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a wide range of backgrounds across the globe. She also led marketing and outreach efforts focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, ran the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), and launched the 2+2 Program during her time in Admissions. Kerry holds a B.A. from Bates College and  ...

A former associate director of admissions at Harvard Business School, Pauline served on the HBS MBA Admissions Board full-time for four years. She evaluated and interviewed HBS applicants, both on-campus and globally.  Pauline's career has included sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM.  For over 10 years, Pauline has expertly guided MBA applicants, and her clients h ...

Geri is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS).  In her 7 year tenure in HBS Admissions, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a diverse set of academic, geographic, and employment backgrounds.  Geri also traveled globally representing the school at outreach events in order to raise awareness for women and international students.  In additio ...

Laura comes from the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is an HBS MBA alumnus. In her HBS Admissions role, she evaluated and interviewed hundreds of business school candidates, including internationals, women, military and other applicant pools, for five years.  Prior to her time as a student at HBS, Laura began her career in advertising and marketing in Chicago at Leo Burnett where she worked on th ...

Andrea served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.  In this role, she provided strategic direction for student yield-management activities and also served as a full member of the admissions committee. In 2007, Andrea launched the new 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School – a program targeted at college junior applicants to Harvard Business School.  Andrea has also served as a Career Coach for Harvard Business School for both cu ...

Jennifer served as Admissions Officer at the Stanford (GSB) for five years. She holds an MBA from Stanford (GSB) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jennifer has over 15 years experience in guiding applicants through the increasingly competitive admissions process into top MBA programs. Having read thousands and thousands of essays and applications while at Stanford (GSB) Admiss ...

Erin served in key roles in MBA Admissions--as Director at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Assistant Director at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). Erin served on the admissions committee at each school and has read thousands of applications in her career. At Haas, she served for seven years in roles that encompassed evaluation, outreach, and diversity and inclusion. During her tenure in Admissions at GSB, she was responsible for candidate evaluation, applicant outreach, ...

Susie comes from the Admissions Office of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she reviewed and evaluated hundreds of prospective students’ applications.  She holds an MBA from Stanford’s GSB and a BA from Stanford in Economics. Prior to advising MBA applicants, Susie held a variety of roles over a 15-year period in capital markets, finance, and real estate, including as partner in one of the nation’s most innovative finance and real estate investment organizations. In that r ...

Dione holds an MBA degree from Stanford Business School (GSB) and a BA degree from Stanford University, where she double majored in Economics and Communication with concentrations in journalism and sociology. Dione has served as an Admissions reader and member of the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee at Stanford.   Dione is an accomplished and respected advocate and thought leader on education and diversity. She is ...

Anthony served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise. During his time as a Wharton Admissions Officer, he read and reviewed thousands of applications and helped bring in a class of 800+ students a year.   Anthony has traveled both domestically and internationally to recruit a ...

Meghan served as the Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute, a joint degree program combining the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies. In her role on the Wharton MBA admissions committee, Meghan advised domestic and international applicants; conducted interviews and information sessions domestically and overseas in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe; and evaluated applicants for admission to the program. Meghan also managed ...

Amy comes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she was Associate Director. Amy devoted 12 years at the Wharton School, working closely with MBA students and supporting the admissions team.  During her tenure at Wharton, Amy served as a trusted adviser to prospective applicants as well as admitted and matriculated students.  She conducted admissions chats with applicants early in the admissions ...

Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School (CBS).  During her time at Columbia, Ally was responsible for reviewing applications, planning recruitment events, and interviewing candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. She traveled both internationally and dome ...

Erin has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU's Stern School of Business. At Columbia Business School, Erin was an Assistant Director of Admissions where she evaluated applications for both the full time and executive MBA programs, sat on the admissions and merit scholarship committees and advised applicants on which program might be the best fit for them based on their work experience and pro ...

Emma comes from the MBA Admissions Office at Columbia Business School (CBS), where she was Associate Director.  Emma conducted dozens of interviews each cycle for the MBA and EMBA programs, as well as coordinating the alumni ambassador interview program. She read and evaluated hundreds of applications each cycle, delivered information sessions to audiences across the globe, and advised countless waitlisted applicants.

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If you have an interview coming up, you will want to review SBC’s interview prep services . The key to interview success is practice and we provide you with all the tools you need to do just that.

  • Leverage our video platform to practice, view yourself and improve
  • Work with our experts for live rehearsal and feedback
  • Download a guide for lists of practice questions, tips on how to prep and overviews of interview formats
  • Experience a real group interview before your big day

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Homepage > MBA Admissions > How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

Posted by Nayeem Noor | Oct 4, 2022 | MBA Admissions , MBA Application Process

How to make an impressive MBA Application Video Essay

Video essays are an integral part of the MBA application process for many business schools. They are also an excellent opportunity for the admission committee to evaluate your interpersonal skills.

Through the video essay, the admissions committee gets a more direct understanding of who you are, and you get a chance to substantiate the authenticity of your story and offer a glimpse into your personality.

Here is a brief outline of this article:

  • What is a video essay?

Types of MBA Video Essays

  • Top B-Schools which ask for video essays and common questions

Tip #1 – Plan your answers

  • Tip #2 – Create an ideal set-up for video recording
  • Tip #3 – Importance of practice
  • Tip #4 – Present yourself well

Tip #5 – Don’t get tensed

Instead, you can also watch this video on expert advice from admissions officers and consultants on how to create a video essay.

What is an MBA video essay?

The reason business schools made video essays a part of the MBA application was that they were looking for more genuine responses from applicants, without any direct involvement of admissions consultants or other professionals. Below are the responses of admission committees of Rotman, Kellogg, and INSEAD on why business schools ask Video Essays as a part of their application process?

  • University of Toronto’s Rotman School, the B-School, which pioneered the video essay as a part of the application process, says that the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different aptitudes and competencies in the admissions process.
  • Kellogg MBA Admissions committee, says, “the video essay provides students with an added opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community — in an interactive way.”
  • According to INSEAD’s Admissions committee , the video should be a unique opportunity for students to share their passions, their motivations, and who they are. The Admissions Committee is interested in finding an authentic view of the applicant as a person, to see how a student thinks on your feet and how he/she convey ideas.

Typically, the school will provide one or more questions, and some time to think about them (around 30 – 60 seconds per question) and is then expected to provide the school with a recorded answer.

Learn the importance of MBA Essays in Business School applications

Types of MBA Video Essays

There are two types of videos an applicant may be asked to submit as a part of the MBA application.

  • Questions specified in the school’s application instruction: In such questions, you will get an opportunity to prepare for the question prior. The question can vary from asking about your career path to introducing yourself to the admission committee.
  • Random Questions: School will ask a random question to each student. You will be provided a time frame to think and answer the questions. You must prepare yourself with some personal situational stories that are relevant to diverse topics.
  • Record offline and submit the video : Schools like MIT Sloan asks applicants to provide a video statement on the topic specified in the application instruction. Most of the school as for single take (no editing) videos not lasting more than one minute.

For some business schools such as Texas McCombs, the video essay is not mandatory to submit during application. But the student gets an optional video essay as a part of the application. If you get an optional video essay as part of the application, it is better to take it. The optional video essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your personality and the motivation to pursue an MBA program.

A video essay is one of the 5 types of MBA essays typically asked in a business school application.

Top B-Schools which ask for Video essays and common questions

B-schools and Video essay questions

Below are some of the top business schools which ask applicants to submit a video essay as a part of their admission process:

INSEAD Video Essay

After finishing your online application , you will receive an e-mail from the admission committee with a unique link to complete the video essay portion. Each applicant will be asked to record answers to 4 questions. The questions can be related to your interest in INSEAD, teamwork, diversity & culture, etc. After receiving the question, you will have 45 seconds to prepare each answer and 1 minute to record your answer.

You can practice on the INSEAD online platform before recording your answers. The practice session will have multiple questions available, and you practice as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. You can create an account on the online platform and come back later without any limit on the number of practice sessions.

Northwestern Kellogg Video Essay

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is the first amongst the M7 B-Schools, which popularized the video essay in the MBA admission process . After submitting your application and payment, you can access the video essay portal from your Kellogg application status page.

You will be asked to answer 3 questions. You will be given 20 seconds to think about the question and up to 1 minute to give your response. Out of 3 questions, Kellogg provides questions upfront in their application instructions for two, and one will be randomly selected question.

For the intake of 2020, the static questions given by the admission committee are, ‘Please introduce yourself to the admission committee’ and ‘What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?’.

The third question will be a behavioral type question that asks about how you handled a challenging situation in your professional or personal life. You can answer as many practice questions as required to get comfortable with format and technology in the application portal.

Yale SoM Video Essay

After submission of your application, you will receive access to the video questions portal. You will get three basic behavior-based questions as a part of the admission process . You will get 30 seconds to structure your thought and 90 seconds to respond to the questions. Like Kellogg and INSEAD, you can utilize Yale’s Video question practice tool to get familiarised with the technology.

MIT Sloan Video Essay

As a part of the MIT Sloan application , you must submit a video statement along with other documents. Unlike the other schools, where you record the video in the admission portal, in MIT Sloan video statement, you can record and upload the video at your convenience on their portal.

The video prompt is – ‘Introduce yourself to your future classmates’. The video statement must be a single take (no editing) with a duration of fewer than 60 seconds. The admission committee recommends delivering a response that includes a bit on your experience and why you chose MIT Sloan to pursue your MBA. Upload instructions are provided with the application.

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How to prepare for video essays?

How to prepare for video essay?

Video essays allow MBA admissions to evaluate your confidence, language skills, and capability to think on your feet. A video essay is one opportunity you can leverage to leave a long-lasting effect upon the admissions committee. The following are the top 5 tips that will help you create a better video essay for your MBA application.

Create Question banks and Scripts

Many applicants wobble when they hear ‘you have to think on your feet while facing video questions’. However, you will not feel like you’re being thrown under a bus when you see a question prompt on the screen if you create and a question bank and use a framework for your responses.

Identify personal and professional stories: You will get many practice questions from your target school’s website. You can find a part of questions school asks on the application instruction. A few business schools also mention the category under which the random question will fall into.

Many of the video essay questions fall under the why MBA/career goals, or behavioral type questions. Based on the category, you should create a repository of personal/career experiences and jot down your answers around it. When you get the opportunity, talk about why that B-School is an excellent match for your career ambition. Talk about your exact goals and how you will accomplish them through this specific program.

Learn to answer succinctly : Most of the schools ask applicants to think and answer the questions in less a minute. Try to answer questions in Situation, Action, Result (SAR) method. Answer the essay questions by using one of your personal or professional examples of a situation that you were in; the action that you took; and the result. Approaching questions in the SAR method will help you to answer concisely.

Choose words wisely : One key aspect of communication is vocabulary. You should keep your vocabulary on a professional level and choose words carefully. Avoid the usage of colloquial words, and although you are required to be formal, you should avoid the frivolous use of formality in the video essay.

Tip #2 – Create a set-up for video recording

While preparing your set-up for your video essay recording, make sure to follow the given instructions.

Choose quite and well-lit area : Make sure you choose a space where there is enough light on your face and no background noise. You should have any noise distractions while recording the video. If possible, ask a friend or family member to surveillance the area to avoid any voice distraction while you take the interview.

Recording accessories : Even though most of the schools don’t mention about the video output, it is advisable to use good quality webcam and microphone for recording your video essay. If you feel your laptop webcam output is substandard, connect an external webcam to record the video. When you choose the microphone, make sure your voice is audible properly. You must record a sample video and test the quality of the video, audio output, and the lighting.

Make sure your devices don’t take away your attention : Before starting the interview, make sure your mobile phone is on Do not disturb mode and close all unnecessary computer applications and browser tabs.

Chose plain background : While recording, it is advisable to choose a single color background. If there are too many elements behind you, the viewer may lose focus away from your presentation.

Keep a notepad and pen handy : In most of the essay questions, you will get less one minute to structure your thought before delivering the answer. You may need to keep a notepad and a pen ready in the table to jot down the main points and supporting examples you want to deliver while answering.

Tip #3 – Practice makes perfect

Practice well

Once you have the question bank, learned how to respond in a crisp & clear manner, and set up your recording area, it is now time to practice and perfect your responses.

Using a camera, film yourself giving the response to the questions you have on your list. Filming the responses will help to introspect the style in which you respond. Start evaluating the video after at least a few hours have passed. While evaluating, make sure you are not saying fillers like “like..” and “umm…”. Hemming and hawing create the impression of being unprepared.

Check your posture and facial expressions while answering the questions. If you are not satisfied with the first take, do retakes, till you get the desired output. Send your final production to people you trust for critique. It is the best way to figure out what kind of judgments a person will make while evaluating your video essay.

Another way to practice is to get the help of a friend and replicate the video essay set-up at your home. Provide your question bank to your friend and connect for a video call through applications like Skype with your friend. Make sure he/she switches off the video. This mock video essay activity is an excellent exercise for you to get rid of camera shyness and improve your confidence.

Some B-Schools have portals where an applicant can practice video essay questions before starting the official attempt of essay questions. Using this portal is the best way to get a hold on the type of questions asked and get familiarised with B-School’s video essay recording platform.

During your final recording, you may get a situational question, choose whether one of your stories can help you answer the question. Also, be ready to think swiftly because some questions are genuinely random. The best response is to be authentic, so be yourself and don’t overthink things. While practicing with your friend, you can instruct him to ask a question that is out of your question bank to get used to such random questions.

Tip #4 – Present yourself well

Present yourself well

Dress Professionally : The video essay is a professional video, and it is considered as a ‘pre-interview’ communication with the Admissions Committee. Because of the same reason, it is important to dress professionally.

Avoid excess motion : The video should be conversational like a speech. So, you should avoid excessive gesturing and movement throughout the recording of your video essay.

Speak Clearly with proper enunciation :  Make sure you do not narrate the whole essay expressionlessly. You should take enough pauses in between to emphasize your words and thoughts to encourage the admissions committee to accept you as a serious applicant. You must deliver the response in a fluid tone and pitch that carries your conviction and passion.

Mind your body language : It is a vital aspect to pay attention to during your video essay. You should keep in mind to sit straight throughout the recording. The best way to identify issues with your body language is by filming yourself, giving the response to some of the questions in your list, and analyzing them. Practicing while correcting such errors will remove nervousness and nervous ticks before sitting down for the final take.

Position the camera : Make sure you do not lean forward or put your head down to face the camera. Position the webcam to your eye level to deliver the answer with your head straight. Always make sure you look into the camera while responding.

Using a camera, film yourself responding to a few questions on your list. Evaluate your background, lighting, and outfit to make sure they look good.

Don’t get tensed

You aced the GMAT, curated an impressive resume, got your letters of recommendation, filled out your entire application, and checked it thrice. You crossed all the hard checkpoints. For video essay, it is just one mantra – be your best self. When it’s showtime, let yourself relax and enjoy the experience. As you respond to the questions to the questions, don’t forget to smile.

Avoid these MBA application mistakes and make it to your dream business school.

Key Takeaways | How to Prepare for MBA Video Essays

  • Video Essays are an opportunity for the admission committee to evaluate your interpersonal skills and determine your ‘fit’ for an MBA program.
  • Video essay questions can be related to your personal and career experience, your post-MBA goals, and Why MBA?
  • Prepare for your Video Essays by creating a framework and identifying stories from your personal and professional life that relate to the above topics.
  • Many business schools offer the option to practice video essays and familiarise yourself with the process. Take advantage of this opportunity.

An increasing number of B-Schools have started to integrate video essays into their MBA applications. In a video essay, you are not expected to be scripted. You are expected to be prepared. The admission committee hopes applicants who are not great on paper will have a chance to shine and exhibit their personality that is not seen elsewhere in a traditional application. With structured preparation, you can make an outstanding video essay without it getting on your nerves.

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Nailing Your MBA Admissions Video Essay

Jatin bhandari.

  • September 20, 2023
  • MBA Consulting

The MBA admissions process is an intricate one. Over the years, top business schools have innovated their application process to seek diverse, competent, and dynamic candidates. One of the more recent and impactful changes has been the incorporation of the MBA video essay. If you’re considering an MBA program, chances are you’ll encounter this component. Let’s deep-dive into understanding and acing this aspect.

Introduction to Video Essays in MBA Admissions

Do schools ask for video essays.

Video essays have become increasingly popular amongst elite business schools. They offer an opportunity to assess a candidate’s communication skills, poise, and authenticity, which written essays might not convey entirely. From a candidate’s perspective, it’s a chance to make a lasting visual impression.

Are Video Essays Required for All Programs or Just Certain Ones?

Not all MBA programs require a video essay; however, the trend is growing. Schools like Kellogg, Yale, and Rotman have integrated this component to have a holistic understanding of their applicants. It’s essential to thoroughly check each school’s application guidelines to understand their specific requirements.

Essentials for Creating an Outstanding Video Essay

Tips for creating a successful video essay.

Crafting an impactful MBA video essay goes beyond just speaking in front of a camera. Here are a few MBA video essay tips to guide you:

  • Authenticity: Be genuine. Adcoms can spot rehearsed and inauthentic submissions.
  • Communication: Clearly articulate your thoughts. It’s less about what you say and more about how you say it.
  • Background & Attire: Choose a neutral, uncluttered background. Dress professionally, as if you were attending an actual interview.

How Long Should a Video Essay Be?

The length of MBA video essays varies across schools. On average, you might be given 1-2 minutes to answer a prompt. Stick to the guidelines, and remember, being concise can be powerful.

Can I Use My Phone to Record My Video Essay or Do I Need Professional Equipment?

You don’t need a professional setup. Most modern smartphones have excellent cameras suitable for this purpose. Ensure good lighting, stable recording (use tripods if necessary), and clear audio.

Structuring and Delivering the Video Essay

How do you make a video essay for school.

From brainstorming content to final edits, approach your MBA video essay like a project:

  • Preparation: Understand the prompt and plan your answer.
  • Rehearse: Practice makes perfect. However, avoid memorizing and focus on being natural.
  • Recording: Find a quiet place, ensure good lighting, and do a few test runs.
  • Editing: Simple editing software can help enhance video quality and ensure it meets the length criteria.

How to Structure the Video for Essay?

A well-structured essay has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Start by introducing yourself and providing context, delve into the body of your response, and conclude with a compelling closing statement.

Structuring your video essay is crucial. A well-structured essay isn’t just a ramble; it’s a concise presentation of thoughts that demonstrates your ability to organize your ideas logically and present them compellingly. Let’s delve deeper into creating a structure that leaves an impression.

1. Introduction: Set the Context

Begin with a brief introduction. This doesn’t mean just stating your name and the subject of your essay, but rather offering a sneak peek into what you’ll discuss. An excellent introduction piques interest right from the start.

Example: If your topic is about leadership, start with a short anecdote or a quotation that resonates with you. “Growing up, I always remembered a saying my coach told me – ‘True leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.’ Today, I want to discuss a leadership experience that taught me this in the corporate world.”

2. The Main Content: A Logical Flow

This is the heart of your video essay. The main content should seamlessly move from one point to the next. To ensure a logical flow:

  • Divide Your Content: Segment your content into clear points or segments. Each point should lead naturally to the next.
  • Use Signposts: These are transitional statements that guide your audience through your essay, ensuring they can follow your argument or story easily.

Example: After discussing a personal leadership experience in a project, you can transition to its impact by saying, “Having navigated the team through this challenge, what truly stood out was the aftermath.”

3. Conclusion: End on a High Note

Your conclusion should wrap up your main points while also leaving your audience with something to ponder. A strong conclusion doesn’t just reiterate points but offers a broader perspective or a call to action.

Example: “Reflecting on my leadership journey, I recognize that leadership isn’t about having authority, but about fostering growth, both in oneself and in others. As future leaders, I urge all of us to think – how can we inspire growth in every interaction?”

Remember, storytelling is potent. A storyline that offers a blend of personal experiences, insights, and a strong conclusion makes your video essay engaging and memorable. Ensure your content flows seamlessly, and always end with a message that resonates, inspiring your audience long after the video ends.

With MBA admissions becoming more competitive, preparing comprehensively can set you apart. Remember, the video essay is an opportunity to showcase not only your professional attributes but also your personality. For more insights into MBA interviews and how to ace them, explore our detailed guide .

Remember, while the MBA video essay might seem challenging, it’s a unique platform to bring your application to life. Invest time in it, be yourself, and it can become a differentiator in your MBA journey.

Jatin Bhandari CEO of PythaGURUS

For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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Kellogg Application tips: Written and video essays

A woman sitting at a table takes notes while a laptop computer is open in front of her

Editor’s note: This article was published during a previous year’s admissions cycle. For the latest information on essay prompts for the 2023–2024 application, please see this post .

By Brittany Wisniewski, senior associate director of admissions    As you move through the application process , one of the most important aspects is telling your personal and professional story as fully and authentically as possible. Each part of the application provides an opportunity for you to share what makes you unique. When you are submitting your written essays and optional video essays, consider examples that demonstrate who you are, what drives you and what you plan to achieve as a future Kellogg Leader .  

Written essays 

The application will give you two prompts for written essays: 

  • Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn?  
  • Values are what guide us in our life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? 

Today’s changing business landscape demands leaders who possess a blend of analytical, creative and social intelligence and who can uplift teams to their full potential — those are the candidates we at Kellogg are looking for. Know that there are no perfect answers to our essay questions. Instead, when you are writing your essays, think about how you can leave your mark on Kellogg and the world.   

Optional video essays 

New this year, you can complete video essays after you submit your application and payment. While the video is an optional component, this is a great opportunity to tell us more about you  and explain why Kellogg is the right place for you.   

The video portion of the applications will include three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that brought you to where you are today: 

  • Introduce yourself to the admissions committee. 
  • What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you? 
  • This question will be based on a challenge you've faced and what you've learned from it.

Please note, video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline.  

Learn more 

At Kellogg, we believe in a holistic approach to the application process. We look at all areas of a candidate’s application. For us, this is much more than a test score, essay or job title. All applicants have unique strengths and attributes. Please make sure we see and hear everything that makes you special.   

If you are ready to become a Kellogg Leader, complete your application today . 

To explore more application tips or learn more about Kellogg, visit our admissions site  or sign up for an event to speak to an admissions officer. 

Good luck, and we look forward to seeing your application soon! 

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