INSEAD Interview – #1

Hey All – I have been wanting to share my experience for sometime to help all the Jan 13 & future applicants so here goes…

Interview Process brief – Almost always invited applicants have to schedule 2 interviews in the country of his/her choice (depending on where you are at the time of the interview Invite) with Alums chosen by the INSEAD Adcom.

A few insights – From my experience, and I’ve read on MBA forums, INSEAD handpicks the Alums so that they are related in some way, directly in a few, to your Industry or Vertical. The other thing that I’ve gathered from reading past experiences is that INSEAD is known to use the age old Good Cop-Bad Cop routine.

1st Interview – My interview details promptly followed the interview invite and immediately I wrote to the Alums requesting time from their busy schedules for my interview. I got one of the replies in a couple of days and my 1st interview was scheduled the following week with Mr. VP, Top Global Equipment Company i.e. directly my Industry. I spent the weekend doing research and mock interviews. The interview started off as a casual conversation with a brief walk through my past work and then to the 3 generic Why? questions. The conversional tone was kept throughout the interview but I must say that Mr. VP had some good Q’s to look beyond the prepared responses. For example on the question of Why INSEAD? He made it clear that the marketed reasons are well known so he’d like my personal reasons for considering INSEAD.

Once the “Why” responses were broken down and discussed, Mr. VP asked me questions mostly on my personality and profile:

  • My biggest weakness? And how I manage it?
  • If I’d contribute at INSEAD? and How?
  • how my managers from my old companies would describe me?

He checked my responses each time he wanted more information. With that I was given time to ask him questions but since he had a busy schedule – my interview was pre-poned as he had an important meeting – I was mindful of his schedule and asked him to share his experiences and a after few more queries the 50 mins session came to end.

In all, I’d say the Q’s are justified to understand the applicant and his/her mindset specifically to fit the MBA. Especially for INSEAD, the interviewer kept checking if I could accommodate the intense curriculum and come out strong. It was more laid back than some of my past job interviews, but, as the interviewer is still recommending you, I’d still go in trying to learn more and ensuring that your INSEAD compliant attributes are leveraged.

Next post, my experience with Mr. Bad Cop…

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MBA Perspectives – Coffee with a Whartonite

Yesterday I met a Wharton 1st year for coffee. She’s in India doing 1 of the 2 internships and she was super cool to meet up for a prompt coffee chat. The conversation sounded like any prospect student picking the brains of a current MBA student but as soon as she told me that she had to decide between Wharton & INSEAD, I was all ears! No, no I didn’t apply to Wharton, but since I find myself in INSEAD decision week and since I had not met anyone with such a dilemma the conversation just got more personal for me!

She said that her research led her to “W”. Research??? Her biggest reason being W’s “Brand Value”. I just wasn’t sold on that one and I impulsively found myself jumping to defend INSEAD…weird, considering I’m still in decision week! Maybe I’m INSEAD star struck or maybe it’s just the odd timing but I shouted out “INSEAD’s Awesome….this conversation is now over!” Ok, that was only in my head but from that point onwards all my questions were INSEAD strengths wrapped around as generic queries. She was able to square my implicitive Q’s with W’s offerings but even to her INSEAD stood out as more International and, not surprisingly,less pretentious. Now we’re talking!

It was more puzzling to hear her talk about how a good % of students came in with the PE/Banker-I’m-a-rockstar mindset and how that made it difficult for the humbler-rockstars to fit in. This made me think of what an INSEAD alum (PE guy) said about how INSEAD actually opened up his mind, completely humbled him and how that still stays with him. I just don’t see that happening at W, which I think is kinda uncool.

The difference in how the schools impact your pre and post-MBA mindset is so interesting – W ingrains the Rockstar thinking and INSEAD seems to take the more open-minded approach. I don’t know what suits you but I’d say if you wanna be a rockstar just join a band!?!