All About MBA Video Essays/Interviews & Practice App

There are two types of video essays, live (Kellogg, Yale, INSEAD, LBS) and pre-recorded (Sloan, McCombs). This post deals with the former, though many of the suggestions apply to the latter as well. At the bottom of this post, there are links to a practice app for each of these schools so be sure to scroll through!

OVERVIEW

My most important piece of advice is don’t panic. Video essays or video interviews (as some schools call them) are one small piece of your application designed to provide adcoms with an unscripted glimpse of you as an applicant. Doing well is a plus, of course, but doing poorly is not necessarily a fatal minus, as evidenced by my clients accepted to these schools after their self-described disappointing performances. As with your essays and actual interviews, your best strategy is to communicate clearly, directly, and sincerely. 

THE PROCESS

Most schools use interview software company Kira Talent to run their video interviews. A question appears on screen. You receive a fixed amount of time to think about your answer (20-45 seconds) and a fixed amount of time to answer (60-90 seconds). The system is simple and completely automated. There is no one on the other side of the camera. Some schools (Kellogg, LBS) give you one question in advance (see below), while others (INSEAD, Yale) choose all questions randomly, but even randomly chosen questions tend to fall into predictable categories (see below). You can practice as many questions as you want to get comfortable with the system, but once you start the real test, it will proceed one question at a time until completion. You cannot re-record any answers.

 

No. of Questions

Prep (sec)

Answer (sec)

Kellogg

3

20

60

Yale

3

20-30

60-90

INSEAD

4

45

60

LBS

2

45

90

GIVEN QUESTIONS:

Kellogg: “One question will be a “get to know you" icebreaker type of question. The second question will be an opportunity to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The other questions will be randomly generated questions that will be similar to interview questions.”

LBS: Question 1: What will you gain from the London Business School MBA programme that you won’t gain from another MBA programme? Start preparing your answer now!

Question 2: This will be a randomized question chosen from a bank of different questions and will not be known to you before you start the recording.

SUGGESTIONS:

Technical: Before starting, reboot your computer and, if possible, your modem. Open only the browser necessary to run the interview app. Use the practice phase to test your microphone and camera.

  Lighting: Don’t look like this!

Lighting: Don’t look like this!

  …or this!

…or this!

Lighting: Find a good light source. The bigger the light source, the more flattering it will be. Directly facing a big window is ideal. Avoid pinpoint desk lights that will make you look spooky. Don’t sit in the dark lit only by your laptop monitor from below. Photographers call that “Frankenstein lighting” for a reason.

Answers: Do not try to memorize every question you find online. You will look and sound like a hostage or a robot, defeating the purpose of the exercise. Use your preparation time to note key ideas, words, and examples that will provide structure to your answer. Some of your answers will be based on your essays, especially questions related to your goals or reasons for attending an MBA. You will not have time to dive into every detail, so focus on big, key points.

Presentation: Dress professionally and check your background for cleanliness or distractions. Use good posture, strong eye contact, and natural but expressive body language. Be yourself, but your most positive, animated, and energetic self to come across well on camera. You + 20%. Lean forward in your chair or even stand up to project energy and enthusiasm. If you make a small mistake, smile and keep going. Don’t spend precious seconds going backwards. Adcoms don’t care about perfect grammar. They want good ideas communicated clearly. Don’t use big words if they aren’t a normal part of your vocabulary. Pretend you are having a friendly conversation, not giving a speech.

TYPICAL QUESTION TYPES:

Goals/Why MBA/Why School X?

Example: What will you gain from the London Business School MBA programme that you won’t gain from another MBA programme? (LBS)

Hypothetical/Icebreaker

Example: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

Example: What’s your favorite software/app?

Interview/Behavioral/Self-awareness

Example: What is your most significant accomplishment?

Example: Tell us about a situation in which you were part of a dysfunctional team, and what steps did you take to improve the situation.

Example: If we asked your colleagues about your weakness and strengths, what would they say?

Opinion

Example: Business leaders these days suffer from providing their employees with insurance. Do you agree or disagree? (Note: Yale really likes this type of question.)

PRACTICE:

I’ve created a simple app to practice video essays/interviews based on real questions that schools have asked in the past. If you are a current client, feel free to try it for your particular school. I will review your answers before we do a live training session.

If you are not a current client but would like to try it, please do so and I can give you feedback during a trial consultation.

I will be adding additional schools in the coming days.