Written essay questions have been the foundation of MBA applications for as long as we can remember but some leading graduate business schools have introduced a new wrinkle over the last few years. Recent technological advances have made video essays a reality within the admissions process at top b-schools around the world. However, there’s no need to worry, this new addition at schools like Kellogg, Yale and Rotman are not meant to stump you.
These video essays are genuinely so the admissions committee can “get to know” the candidate on a more personal level. Therefore, the applicant should try to be friendly and open about the questions (while still being appropriate, of course) rather than overly stiff & formal. The video provides a little glimpse into the personality traits of all applicants. So don’t expect to see anything really tricky or challenging, such as a mini-case, these are designed to be much more personal.
Specifically, admissions is looking to see how you come across in an unscripted, conversational moment. The important thing is to convey confidence and answer the question directly, within the time allotted, in an articulate manner. As always highlighting the core elements of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity that business schools covet within your responses will go a long way in executing a successful response. If you’re an international candidate, take the video essay seriously. Because for admissions, this is also another way to assess the English ability of international applicants so additional prep may be required.
Speaking of preparation, do it! Prep some responses to common interview questions, again these questions are not meant to be brain teasers just personal questions you should have already sorted through, about yourself and your interest in the school, prior to completing your application.
This is the kind of thing where I do think over-preparation could potentially backfire since you don’t know what the question will be, and the objective of the exercise is to be yourself and have fun. The important thing is to be flexible. Your personality during the video essay should be consistent with who you have portrayed yourself to be in the application (which should be consistent with who you are) while factoring how admission perceives you (young candidate, international, brain, etc). With this being said remain professional in your tone, language and dress to ensure admissions continues to view you as a serious candidate.
Finally, each video essay school has a slightly different process when it comes to this exercise. Help yourself out by reviewing each aspect of the process diligently so there are no surprises when it is time to complete.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants.