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650 GMAT and ACCEPTED to INSEAD - How I did it +interview

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woojet Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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650 GMAT and ACCEPTED to INSEAD - How I did it +interview

Post Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:38 am
This article is not for those who got 700+ with 7 years w/e running a multibillion dollar hedgefund or saving lives by discovering the cure for cancer down in Africa while building libraries and schools. No, this article is for those who have spent hundreds of hours studying GMAT and possibly invested in a prep course and can only achieve marginal improvements. This article is for those whose strengths lie elsewhere and on paper may seem hopeless, but are unsure if the adcomm members can see your potential. Because I have been there and only now can I say that I have been vindicated. This is my story.

My profile:
GMAT: 650 (Q44/V37)
GPA: 2.92/4.00 (albeit, 3.7 in Finance at a top tier undergrad school in the US)
W/E: 5 years full-time + 1 year part-time
Other: 1 year intensive mandarin training program
Languages: English and Mandarin (after taking a language course)
Nationality: American
Age: 29 (this year)

Most MBA consultants looked at my profile and disregarded it as “unremarkable”. They recommended me for programs that were more for “my level”. In other words, programs I was not interested in and believed did not “fit” me.

I was undeterred; convinced that I should find a program that truly values my experience and can see my own potential.

So yes, on paper I was unattractive. Then HOW did I stand out? - My experience; not just work experience, but my own life experiences.

In brief, in my nearly 7 years since graduating from college, I have lived in 5 countries both developing and developed across Asia. I have worked as an analyst at an investment bank and as head of business development for a mid-cap pharmaceutical. I have pursued my own entrepreneurial aspirations while consulting on a part-time basis and learning mandarin.

It is my story.

It is how I tied my diverse experiences together. How I emphasized not my achievements no matter how great or small, but my process in achieving them. How I demonstrated my commitment to my future ambitions. And why a school that values such experience is a perfect match for someone like me.

My single advice for any MBA candidate: tell your story. What does that mean? It is NOT a list of achievements. Not your CV in paragraph form. But a story that says “yea I’m a person too and this is how I am different and why an MBA for me is only a means to achieving my future goals, not my life goal itself”.

In terms of GMAT, in my opinion and after extensive research of adcomm views, GMAT is simply what gets you looked at. It is not what adcomm uses as their final decision, but it is their starting point. And at the very least, it is only 25% of what any adcomm considers in their final decision i.e. GMAT/GPA, essays, recommendation letters, and interviews. Interviews come at the second stage, so GMAT/GPA initially is 1/3 of what adcomm members consider. But that means 2/3 is based on essays and letters of rec - if those are strong then it will get you to the interview round. You only need to pique their interest. Interviews are where you can really shine as a person and demonstrate your fit to the program.

And I knew that was my advantage. I needed to only get to the interview round because I am confident in my ability to connect with people face-to-face.

INSEAD Interview Experience

Interview #1
Duration: 80 min

Questions Asked:
• Tell me about yourself/How did you get here?
• Leadership Experience
• Trinity Questions: Why MBA? Why now? Why INSEAD?
• Future plans?
• Why can’t you accomplish your future plans without an MBA?
• Culture experiences (general); how did you adapt?
• Small Consulting Case* (impromptu): we created a technology - how do you make it profitable?
*Note: this is not an INSEAD-designated question. This was something he asked because of his job and because of my own career aspirations.

Interview #2
Duration: 75 min

Questions Asked:
• Tell me about yourself/How did you get here?
• What style of leadership do you have? Examples of leadership (personal)
• If you had to spend 3 hours in an airport with me what would we talk about?
• Culture experiences (general); how did you adapt?
• What would you do at INSEAD besides go to class? What would you do as extracurricular?
• Do you like to go clubbing?
• What do you like to do for fun? Tell me more about your interests
• Trinity Questions: Why MBA? Why now? Why INSEAD?
• Just as a brief wrap up: Future plans? Why can’t you accomplish your future plans without an MBA?

Some have suggested that INSEAD likes to play “good cop/bad cop” for their interviews. I don’t think that is the case at all. It is true, however, that both interviewers are alumni and one interviewer will be more experienced who will focus on leadership potential and future goals, while the other will be younger/recent grad and will focus on “fit” in terms of how well you would get along with your peers. I think that is pretty clear based on the questions they asked.

Overall, both treated me very casually. The first interviewer was a senior investment manager at a vc firm. The other was a finance guy from a corporate. The first interview was more of a conversation; he didn’t even look at the interview sheet. But the second was definitely a Q&A type structure, mainly I think because he was fairly new at interviewing.

I think it’s very clear that INSEAD-ers are very international so they are able to get along with most people. If you can demonstrate clearly your reasoning for going to INSEAD, how you would be a good fit, and at the same time be very easygoing with your interviewers then it should go well. At the interview stage, the INSEAD adcomm believes you would be a good fit, and just are verifying that you look as good in person as you do on your application.

Just a quick side note: even though I felt the interviews went well, the next day I became quite anxious and nervous. Started thinking about how I could have answered differently and maybe they wanted me to say something more about this or that. I even wrote them both a thank you email, standard protocol of course, but with no response from them at all just added to my anxiety.

However, on Fri, March 1 at 1235am, my patience was rewarded. I heard a beep from my phone indicating I got a new email. I looked at it and saw that it was from INSEAD and said “…it is my great pleasure…”. I couldn’t even finish reading it. I dropped to my knees and just laughed in a mixture of disbelief and joy. I was vindicated. All of the choices I had made up to that point were finally vindicated. I made the right choice to follow my gut, to walk my path, and not follow what others do and tell me to do. That’s what made my story great. I was able to tell something different than what adcomm members and interviewers usually hear. I turned the “unremarkable” into remarkable.

I am part of the July 2014 class, starting in Singapore. I look forward to my new adventures and continuing my story even further.

-----------
UPDATE - 4 NOV 2013

Hi guys - just wanted to make a quick update. First, I really appreciate the response! For some reason I was not receiving notifications for responses to the post so I am quite late in thanking you for taking the time to post and comment. If you or anyone else would like to hear any more details about my experience, application process, etc or just say hello pls continue to post below and also drop me a note! Smile

PS - I just got through my first period at INSEAD and it has been AWESOME! It's going by so fast! But truly an amazing experience so far! Smile

UPDATE - 19 DEC 2013

Thank you again guys for all the messages! My offer still stands - pls message me if you have any follow up questions or just want to say hello.

P2 just ended for me and I am exhausted! The rumors about P1 and P2 being the most difficult are true! But it just makes the holiday break so much better! Merry Christmas everyone!

UPDATE - 14 AUG 2014

Hi guys! It's been awhile since my last update...it got really crazy once P3 started...looking for jobs, interviewing, etc...BUT I'm happy to announce that not only have I since graduated, I also landed a sweet job with one of the largest companies in the world, and based in Singapore! But I do consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I got an offer back in P4 and could just relax in P5. Unlike about half of my class during the same time and about 20% today that are still looking for jobs (just a gut feeling).

INSEAD was a great experience. It was intense, draining, and stressful...but it was totally worth it, and extremely rewarding. Even without the job, the people I met, the friends I made, and the doors it opened...A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I wish everyone good luck with their applications. I have put my name in for consideration to conduct interviews on behalf of INSEAD, so maybe I will have the opportunity to meet some of you in a couple years! Smile

Again, I love hearing from you guys. Please post something below! And if you have any questions, please message me directly! In any case, good luck everyone and I still can say with the utmost certainty that GMAT is NOT the sole determinant or predictor of your future success in life. Stay positive and if I may, although it might be a little corny to sign off this way, I'd like to leave you with a quote which has inspired me when I have felt stuck and hopeless:

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Calvin Coolidge

-woojet



Last edited by woojet on Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:49 am; edited 5 times in total

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adityag85 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:54 am
Congrats buddy. Tremendous achievement, and kudos to your self-belief Smile

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vvv Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:58 pm
Hey woojet, congratulations on this remarkable achievement. "Believe - yes we can"

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woojet Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:00 pm
Thank you vvv and adityag85 - stay positive and stay the course! Good luck to you both as well!

Letstalk2008 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sun May 12, 2013 9:20 am
Hey thanks for the post and best of luck for the next exciting journey... I am planning to apply too and wanted to know if you took some help in writing the essays and if so can you suggest how you went about it..

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shah13 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:21 pm
Great story, congrats! Can you tell me your GMAT breakdown by percentile. I have a 690 but heavily skewed towards verbal with quant percentile way down at 55.... Wpuld be reassuring to know that this may not be a deal breaker.

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LauraFreedman Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:26 am
Congratulations! Looks like you really made the most of your geographic footprint and work background in your essays and nailed your interviews. Nice job! Perhaps we'll see you on campus in Singapore.

Kind regards,

Laura
Laura Freedman, INSEAD '92D

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=99414
www.AccessEducation.com.sg

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mansi123 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:51 am
such an inspirational post..thanks for the motivation..wish u best luck Smile

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zedovski Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:59 am
Hi woojet

Amazing story and I also concur that INSEAD is a really unique school in that they give equal weights to both the human and professional stories. I myself really opened up in my application and gave a frank assessment of who I am and what my achievements meant to me, and how I would improve on it going forward.

For the record I am also attending SG 14J! Hope to see you on campus Smile

Cheers,

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neivamario Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:52 am
I could not agree more this is an amazing and inspiring story! Congrats!

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jcording Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:01 pm
I have come across many success debriefs in the past year and a half while I pursue my own MBA goals, and this is hands-down my favorite write up so far. Very inspiring. While reading it, I felt like I was the one receiving vindication - thank you for sharing.

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ankita21cen Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:08 pm
omg! congrats ! i actually felt like jumping vicariously ! I am in a similar situation so its even more inspiring .

I would just say Thankyou!

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jitsy Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:09 pm
Great story woojet! a BIG congratulations! You removed the 'un' from 'unremarkable'. Reminds me of that scene from Pursuit of Happyness where Will Smith says to his son - "Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period."

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melissa2303 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:27 am
Congratulations! This is a fantastic achievement! Good luck with your MBA.

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gemmox Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Mon Aug 12, 2013 7:06 am
Congratulations, and thanks for such an inspirational debrief.

It's posts like these that keep me pushing!

Good luck in everything you apply yourself to.

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