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INSEAD MBA Application Insider

INSEAD boasts a top-ranked MBA program home to a diverse mix of students from around the world. But what do INSEAD admissions staff look for in MBA applicants?

By  Matt Kefford

Wed Jan 20 2021


INSEAD is consistently ranked among the best business schools in the world, listed in the top five of the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings for the past seven years

The school was founded by a Harvard Business School professor in 1957 aiming to bring people across the world together through business. It has since expanded and now has campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. 

Known as the 'Business School for the World', INSEAD’s MBA program is home to 90 different nationalities, while alumni live and work in over 60 countries. The school is a keen promoter of diversity, and is also a top three provider of female MBA graduates worldwide.  

INSEAD MBA classes seek to promote this diversity, with students placed into study groups of five-to-six with varying ages, gender and experience aiming to create the most diverse groups possible.  

As well as looking for diversity, INSEAD also seeks a high standard of applicant, with an average GMAT score of 710, and a required work experience of 5.6 years. Candidates can apply for intakes in either January or September, with around 500 students accepted in each intake.   bb8a01774c0f230efe994fbea8dcc6bf6ef6bd0b.png

Successful candidates for the 10 month, full-time program will be taught a variety of different skills. The Personal Development Program runs throughout the course, with one-on-one coaching and group sessions teaching responsible leadership, while the Launchpad scheme teaches students about entrepreneurship helping them to design and launch their own startups.  

An INSEAD MBA is a great step for graduates toward a successful career. In 2019, 92% of INSEAD graduates were employed within three months of graduating, at over 300 companies across the world. 

But what does it take to ace your INSEAD MBA application? We spoke with Virginie Fougea (pictured), global director of admissions at INSEAD, to find out.  


What do you look for in INSEAD MBA candidates? 

When reviewing applicants we look for evidences of open-mindedness, adaptability and flexibility. Our mission is to 'bring together people, cultures and ideas.'

We truly believe in the importance of having people in our community who are keen on learning from their peers, on challenging their thinking, people who will thrive in a multi-cultural context and who are capable to react in culturally sensitive ways.

What is the biggest mistake you can make in an MBA application? 

Mistakes usually come from the fact that applicants are being superficial in the examples and stories they choose to share with us. 

Applicants who prefer to stay in a safe zone, only addressing situations within a professional context and not sharing their values, motivations or beliefs are getting it wrong.


What is the strangest thing you have ever seen in an MBA application? 

The strangest thing was a letter of recommendation written by the father of the applicant who was in fact not supportive at all but was on the contrary explaining why his son should pursue other avenues than an MBA program!


What questions should candidates expect in their admission interview? 

INSEAD MBA Alumni conduct the interviews. We don't share a set of questions with our Alumni, so they are free to decide which questions to ask as we want to keep the exchange as genuine as possible.

We are very mindful of the fact that because of the diversity of our applicants and alumni, we can't ask one specific set of questions. If we were to do so, we could potentially be culturally biased. 

This is why it is important that alumni ask the questions they feel are appropriate to understand the fit, the communication skills, the motivation, and the ability to contribute of our applicants.

Tell us one thing about the application process at INSEAD that most people wouldn't know? 

Everyone knows that we welcome around 80 different nationalities on our campuses, but people don't know that the admissions committee and team members are equally international. We have people from Russia, Portugal, the US, Germany, the UK, Spain, Nigeria, France, Singapore, Greece, and more.

Most of us have worked and lived abroad or have dual citizenships, in true INSEAD style.

Next Read:

Is The INSEAD MBA Worth It?