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INSEAD MBA admissions interview and GMAT experience
Written by Sameer Kamat
In our MBA profile evaluation analysis (i.e. MBA MAP), INSEAD MBA ends up as a Strech or Ambitious school for most. Rather than sugarcoat our findings, we say it like it is. And for those who’ve had the INSEAD MBA program as their top choice, it can be devastating.
Till we explain to them what those ratings mean and how they can improve their chances.
Praveen Kumar was one such candidate who decided to use the minor blow (during the simulation) as an opportunity to learn and improve. He’s currently pursuing his INSEAD MBA and he writes this post from Paris (France).
How I got into the INSEAD MBA program
by Praveen Kumar
Having taken my GMAT 1 and having got a decent 680, I was trying to know which schools I would be competitive at. With 3 years of experience by matriculation in 2011 Sept, I wanted to apply to a couple of schools in R2 for the Sept 2011 intake. I was a regular reader on the GMAT Club and ran into Sameer from MBA Crystal Ball on their discussion forums.
So I happened to touch base with Sameer and requested for the MBA Mock Application (MBA MAP). Having not applied to any business school yet and not having gone through the rigours of business school applications, I answered the short essays asked by Sameer in a very rudimentary way and have given my brief resume as well for is evaluation.
What came out of the MBA MAP report was very disappointing for me, as according to the report the only schools that were practical to apply for me were Business schools which were ranked 15 or more in the Financial Times MBA rankings. I was doing rather well in my current job, both professionally and financially and I was not in a mood to leave everything to pursue a MBA from a non Ivy League business school. I had a long discussion with Sameer over phone on what the report meant and how I should make the best use of it.
Only one sentence still rings in my mind till today from that day’s conversation. Sameer was telling me, the report is based on what I have written in the short essays he has given me and there were many applicants who have upped their ante after completing the MBA MAP process and got into top schools.
I decided to apply to a couple of schools in the R2 for the Sept 2011 Intake even though Sameer seriously advised me to wait for one more year, get more experience and target schools in R1 for the 2012 entry and possibly increase my GMAT.
I was working in the oil and gas sector and my professional commitments had forced me to go offshore from Dec 2010 and March 2011 and I had no time to either apply in R2 for the 2011 or retake the gmat. I was back onshore/Dubai after close to 4 months. I was seriously targeting R1 for the 2012 Sept intake and started to prepare for my GMAT 2.
I was seriously researching about business schools, attending business school events in Dubai, managing work and also preparing for my gmat 2 now and then. I wanted to apply to six schools over the R1 and R2, with Ross / Kellogg / Wharton in R1 and HBS / Columbia GSB / London Business School (LBS) in R2.
When I retook my GMAT, saying that I was shattered would be an understatement.I went from a 49-Q/35-V/690 to some 590/46/29. I was in panic mode with the R1 dead lines fast approaching. I only applied to Ross in R1 stating my GMAT as 680.
I didnt get a call from Ross and I didnt know what went wrong with my Ross application as I felt I did my best job with that and Ross being on the lower ranked schools amongst the schools I was applying, I was worried. I retook the GMAT in Dec 2011 and got a 660/49/31.
As soon as I came off the exam, I retook an appointment for GMAT 4 on Jan 2nd 2012 and started to work on the applications. I didnt have any time to spare for the GMAT as applying to 5 schools over a months time is very hectic.
I retook GMAT 4 and got a 690/46/38. I was just smiling at my score after the exam and I knew I was not gonna take the exam again after that. I just could not get the best out of me for the GMAT.
A 700+ was always there for the taking for me, but I realised that it was no longer worth it. With my 690 GMAT I applied to Harvard HBS / Wharton / Columbia GSB / LBS and Kellogg.
Kellogg interviews everyone and hence I got interviewed by them as well. It went okay types and could’ve been better. The Kellogg alum met me at 2000 hrs at his office and was in a hurry to go home and he was stopping the conversations in between. But I felt that it went well.
All the US schools dinged me and LBS wrote back stating that they liked my profile and wanted me to re-apply next year. It was time for soul searching. Only silver lining was that LBS asked me to reapply. I always had INSEAD at the back of my mind and didn’t apply for the Sept entry or the J class as I was keen on intership opportunities.
Moreover, the applicant pool to both LBS and INSEAD would be pretty same and both being European schools, felt the yard sticks would be same. I felt I will be competitive at INSEAD and applied in the R1 to INSEAD 2013 Jan class.
I finally got an interview call. The feeling was amazing……I wanted to convert the call hook or crook. I kept networking, meeting INSEAD alumi, current students and recent pass outs.
I practised mock interviews and left no stone un turned. INSEAD is one of the schools that interviews with its alums and it has two interviews with two alums.
The first interview was with a Financial Consultant in his mid 40’s. The interview was a dream and went toooo perfect to be true. All the Alum had to say to me was, you haven’t travelled much but for the middle east. INSEAD has a great diversity and you need to travel to Europe between now and the time you attend INSEAD. I knew I cracked this and had one more interview to crack.
The second interview was with a Booz Consultant. After setting so high standards in my first interview, it was hard to replicate the same the second time, but I knew I did the second one also equally good.
On 26th June at 1335hrs when I was having my lunch, my mobile was ringing with an international code starting from 003 and I knew I had to take it. I took the call and was informed that I made the cut this time.
After 6 dings, 4 GMATs and countless business school essays, I got what I wanted. An admit into a Ivy League business school. Behind all the satisfaction and heart beating, I knew at the back of my mind that the journey has just begun.
But, the journey after getting the admit can wait for another day. Now was the time to rejoice and let the party begin!!!!
My MBA journey that began with MBA Crystal Ball has taken a pit stop at INSEAD for now.
Read another INSEAD MBA grad’s tips on getting management consulting jobs and join the discussion on the –> INSEAD MBA forum.