ISB Video Tips: Life to me is… | Unusual MBA Essays

ISB now has a new video resume requirement in its application process. This is an additional ‘essay question’ (or resume or whatever you might consider it to be) that is necessary for you to tackle before ISB Hyderabad or Mohali will open their gates for you.

And unlike the other ISB admission pre-requisites like GMAT score, TOEFL / IELTS, ISB essays, recommendations, this one can make you go ‘Life for me is…one big confusion!

MG, our best MBA Admissions Consultant, shares some tips on how to manage the unconventional component and make life just a little less confusing.

How to tackle unusual Bschool essay questions – ISB Video

A beginner’s guide to facing the unorthodox B-school essay questions by MG

Beginning with this article, I will help demystify some of the seemingly toughest essay questions – from ISB’s video question to Stern’s creative introduction to Cornell’s table of contents question; we will take all sorts of varied (weird?) questions. I will suggest some thought starters too but be mindful not to copy them blindly as that would mean there’s no “you” in the response.

As the title suggests, we will discuss the ISB video question “Life to me is…” in this post.

First things first, kudos to ISB for breaking away from the mundane and standard 3 questions. Before answering the how of this question, lets understand that why behind it. The adcom has 3 potential reasons for putting up such a question.

One, to see you – no I am kidding; but really to get a glimpse of the deeper you (so you can read that as the dialogue from Avatar “I see you”).

Second is to understand how well do you communicate and finally, to give you one more chance to make that right first impression.

There are two broad strategies that you can adopt to manage this question. One would be the more traditional way of summarizing in normal monologue what life really means to you. You obviously start this type of response with completing the sentence and go on to describe life in a way that also puts forth your strengths.

For instance, if you are persevering and hard working, then that what life could mean to you. The key here though, is to not leave it as a philosophical discourse on life but to exemplify it with real life instances.

For instance, you could say that hard work has been the theme of your life right from early stages when you were able to pursue your field of education, to your professional career where you’ve achieved something that usually take 2X the time you’ve taken.

Other such themes could include perseverance, curiosity, leadership, fearlessness etc etc. Depending on what you’ve accomplished in life and what life means to you, you need to pick and choose the right words and strengths on which you’d like to build this.

The other, more adventurous approach would involve exploring the creative side of film making. This could manifest in the form of say shooting a typical day in your life across home, workplace, gym/sports etc.

Be mindful that this cannot be a theoretical discourse on an abstract level. As per the ISB adcom, they want to “see” you in the video. The idea is not that of a high production quality, but more an avenue of how you structure your thoughts.

This approach is only for the brave-hearted and with a particular creative bent of mind. Needless to say, this is a high risk high gain strategy and best attempted if you have the creative streak. So before you start filming an ant to show attributes like hard work and perseverance, ask yourself if the overall concept is looking / sounding too cheesy or gimmicky.

The above two are the broad guidelines under which one can think of umpteen numbers of permutations and combinations. But lets now talk about the logistics of managing this question in terms of preparation and pre-work.

Keep in mind the general rule of thumb that a minute on video translates roughly to one page with double line spacing in ms-word with proper margins. Before attempting this question create a proper script and then attempt it.

Ideally get someone else to film it to avoid jarring camera angles. Review it, get someone else to review it and reshoot. Do this 2-3 times over and you should be good to go!

Hope that should give you several ideas to take a crack at the ISB video ‘Life to me is…’.

Here are some more ideas to manage the rest of the application: ISB essay tips. Many of our clients have got into ISB and graduated to excellent positions in the corporate world. If you are really serious about ISB and looking for support with your application, drop us a note on: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Get a free profile evaluation for ISB and free admissions advice on our ISB Hyderabad forum

Next up is the autobiography table of contents question; unless you ask me to focus on another question you’d like us to dwell on.

Read more:
Tips to tackle video essay questions in MBA applications

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

6 thoughts on “ISB Video Tips: Life to me is… | Unusual MBA Essays”

  1. Absolutely. As I said, think of it as an empty canvass. As long as you dont go into the abstract, and keep the videologue grounded, everything goes

  2. i know i m sounding naive but do i just need to look into the camera n speak like a news reader (of course they do exist – check out DD1 :) )
    i mean by heart the entire 2 min content or can i read in between from the paper?
    Tips that should be taken care of while doing the video? especially the content n pace it should be spoken n also if it can b informal compared to the written essay.?

  3. NRS,

    MG has been busy. So let me try answering your query.

    Most of the applicants who are facing the camera for the first time end up doing precisely that i.e looking and sounding like a news-reader in the video. That’s a bad idea.

    Of course you need to know what you are going to talk about, which means there needs to be a ‘script’ that you prepare beforehand. And you need to practise it well too.

    But try to retain the natural feel and the spontaneity that comes when you are having a face-to-face conversation with a member of the Admissions committee.

    A little informality is fine as long as it doesn’t seem like you aren’t taking the process seriously. Keep in mind that this is a formal & mandatory piece of the bigger application. So treat it with the same seriousness as the other components like the essays, resume, recommendations & the interview.

  4. Thanx Sameer so very much for the reponse……its gud to know that u make it a point to respond to every query posted for u …..infact I really want to thank you on behalf of all the applicants for doing a great service :)

  5. Hi Sameer,

    I am looking for professional help for essays in B-School. Kindly let me know if you could provide help in this area.

    Anurag Vardhan


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