A Real INSEAD Interview Experience

by on February 14th, 2017

INSEAD takes a different approach to the interview than many other top schools.

  • All interviews are conducted by alumni
  • You’ll have two interviews (with two alumni selected based on their backgrounds)
  • Interviews can be longer (over one hour is common)
  • Interviews are not blind

In general, applicants tend to describe the INSEAD interview process as more in-depth. For an illustration of this, below we have laid-out an overview of the interview experience of an applicant who interviewed last year. As you will see, INSEAD’s interview is focused on how you will contribute, what your leadership potential is, and gaining an understanding of really “who you are” and what drives you.

Jonathan’s INSEAD Interview Experience

I had two interviews: one with a more senior guy, who had completed INSEAD 20 years ago (nine years at McKinsey and now in PE); and one with a more recent alumna who had graduated five years ago (had worked in Telecom in Brazil and is now in Pharma in Switzerland. Overall, I think my interview with the senior person was more challenging and could have gone better.

I was expecting the senior interviewer to be looking for leadership potential and the recent alumni to be looking for my “fit;” and that was exactly my experience.

The interview with the more senior alum started with him asking me to present my story and who I am, which I did very high level. Then he started going through my CV and asking questions about my university experiences such as why I majored in biology, why I attended Harvard for undergrad, and why I had served in the military. He then moved on to my current role at (a large technology firm) where he phrased his questions like a mini-case-study. He wanted to know more details about a recent project that I had led including detail surrounding our customers, our model, and why we approached the project like we did. Finally, he ended by asking me what actions I would take immediately if I were to be named the CEO of my company. The whole thing lasted a little over an hour with the final 10-15 minutes devoted to my questions.

My second interviewer had prepared 10 questions for me in advance of our meeting. She was more interested in understanding my reasons for choosing INSEAD, why I wanted to pursue an MBA, why now, and how I would contribute to the class. During my answers to the final part, she stopped me to do a slight deep dive on my travel (where have I traveled, why, what did I do there, etc). She then shifted gears to discuss my goals in-depth. We talked about my plan to go into consulting and then to a strategy role in tech. She gave me feedback on my goals since she pursued an internship in consulting, and that part of the interview was very conversational. After discussing my goals, she opened it up to my questions, which lasted another 10-15 minutes. The total time for my second interview was approximately an hour and a half.

Overall, I felt that the INSEAD interviewers were very well prepared to speak with me and that they seemed to have an opinion that they wanted to validate.

Debrief: What Does This Mean for You?

Jonathan’s experience is similar to other INSEAD applicants. Of course, alumni interviews will always vary—there is no strict guidebook—but you should expect a similar lay-out with deep dives on your experience, personal interests and your goals and rationale for an MBA. Ensure that you know the program inside and out. Alumni are very passionate about their alma maters and showing that you are equally as passionate can win you bonus points! And of course, ensure that you know what makes INSEAD “the business school for the world!” INSEAD’s unique diversity and culture are near and dear to your interviewer’s hearts, so you cannot research enough to prepare.

As always, we are here if you have any questions about your INSEAD applications!

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