INSEAD MBA Essay 2023 – Analysis and Tips



With a total of 2,000 words across seven essays, the INSEAD application essays are among the longest of any top-tier business school. And that doesn’t count the two essays that aren’t required.

INSEAD MBA essay analysis and tips

When you’re just starting out and looking at a blank page, this can be scary. But after working with many applicants we’ve understood that the INSEAD application gives you the best chance to tell your story and make a strong case for yourself than almost any other business school application out there.

There are 2 types of essays that INSEAD asks all the candidates to submit:

  1. Career essay
  2. Motivation essay

In this article, we have shared tips and analyses for all these essays which are a part of the INSEAD MBA application for the 2023 intake:

INSEAD MBA essay analysis

Career Essay 1

Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (word limit – 200 words)

The goal of this question is to give the reader an idea of where you are in your career right now. Don’t think too much about it, because you’ll have plenty of time in later essays and other parts of your application to go into more detail about your big achievements. 

Make sure to tell us your job title, organization, where you work, and what your main responsibilities are.

Even if you’ve worked at the same company for a long time, it’s best to stay focused on your current role and duties, as directed. Consider that this will serve as the adcom’s introduction to your application, so you may want to give the reader a sense of where you fit in the company’s organizational structure and what you do for a living.

Feel free to list a few accomplishments if there’s room, but don’t list the same one you wrote about in your accomplishments essay again in another part of the application. 

Include leadership and teamwork if they are important, as well as any international projects or work that has an international scope. As much as possible, try to use numbers to convey your impact.

Career Essay 2

What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (200 words max)

The admissions committee seeks to obtain a sense of your present career momentum by focusing on what your next logical move would be in their current firm (i.e. without an MBA). 

You should be able to explain how you plan to take on more responsibility in the future, whether it be in terms of project size and complexity, the number of personnel you manage, or the company’s financial results. 

If applicable, you should also include an idea of when you expect to be promoted to this position. You should be able to provide a thorough response in 100-150 words for this question due to the fact that the information needed is more limited than the other short responses in this section.

But if you don’t have a natural progression in your organization, you may want to take a different method. You’ll have to watch your language and refrain from blaming management for your lack of advancement or sense of stagnation. 

If you don’t think you’ll be able to progress in the same company because of external factors like the company’s size, location requirements if you’d have to switch office headquarters, the skill set required to advance (ideally skills that an MBA would provide), or another existing roadblock, then you should state that you don’t expect that you’ll be able to do so in the future. 

Once you’ve proven that an MBA is a sole key that unlocks the door to the future, you may discuss how an MBA can help you achieve your goals.

Do you want to impress the INSEAD Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Career Essay 3 

Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (300 words max)

This essay allows you to go beyond your resume and explain why you made the decisions you did. Make sure to give it the attention it deserves as a part of your broader narrative as an application. 

Writing this essay gives you the opportunity to elaborate on aspects of your professional history that might not be immediately apparent from a cursory glance at your resume. 

Remember, the INSEAD adcom is searching for a candidate who can show that their career has progressed in a logical manner and that they have been on an upward trajectory from the beginning. 

Approach this essay prompt chronologically, beginning with your first job and ending with your current position. 

Keep in mind that your resume and a subsequent essay will provide ample opportunity for you to elaborate on your achievements. Insist on showcasing your rise through the ranks at each company, along with notable achievements you’ve had while working there. 

Even if you have substantial job experience or have held multiple different positions, you should save your word count for the most important section of this essay: explaining why you made the decisions you did.

Career Essay 4

Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (100 words max)

Because there are just 100 words to deal with, you’ll need to answer this question both efficiently and effectively. When you’re done with your MBA, what is your immediate post-MBA professional ambition, and where do you envision yourself in 10 to 15 years?

The position you hope to occupy after completing an MBA school should be named, along with 1-2 organizations where you would like to work. Sample company names and suggestions for specific job titles will help you get a better sense of what you’re looking for. Geographic location can be included. Ideally, try to include a few phrases describing why you are so enthusiastic about this career path.

Also discuss your long-term goals for the next 10 to 15  years by describing the role you expect to play, as well as the influence you hope to make in that job. If there is enough room, it would be a good idea to discuss how an MBA could help achieve these goals, and why INSEAD is an excellent choice.

Career Essay 5 (Optional)

If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. 

There is no word limit, but we recommend limiting your response to 300 words. INSEAD has added a question that gives people who are unemployed a chance to explain their situation. 

There is also a section for people who plan to take more than two months off between the time they submit their applications and the time they start INSEAD’s program. 

In either case, applicants should show that they are (or will be, if they are taking a leave) actively building skills, making connections, and moving closer to their career goals. 

This essay is a great place to talk about how you plan to make the most of the time between applying to INSEAD and starting the program. 

For example, you could talk about how you plan to do more volunteer work, go to more conferences and professional development workshops, try to get a short-term job before starting the MBA program, or make other plans.

Motivation Essay 1

Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (500 words max)

Through this prompt, the INSEAD admissions committee is trying to get a better sense of who you are as an individual: what makes you tick as a person, as well as what events and people in your life have shaped who you are now. 

You must have a profound understanding of your own self in order to answer this question well. Working with an admissions consultant to address this question will add significant value for you, as this question goes far beyond your business school application.

When responding to an essay like this, it is necessary to address the question in full, but it is also to one’s best advantage to focus on the positive. 

Just like in an interview, when you introduce yourself to a new person, you want to be honest about any obvious shortcomings you may have, but you also want to emphasize your positive attributes so that they are more apt to want to hire you. 

A good starting point is to highlight two or three of your best attributes, citing examples of how these characteristics have helped you achieve your goals or positioned you to serve others in a meaningful way. 

In order to “prove” that you possess a particular characteristic, it’s best to provide an example to back up every claim you make about your character. That way, you’re showing rather than telling readers how your values and personality influence your actions (and potential contribution to the INSEAD MBA program). 

You’ll want to discuss one or two of your shortcomings after you’ve demonstrated your strengths, preferably ones that you’ve already taken steps to rectify.

Motivation Essay 2

Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max)

For this response, applicants must cover a lot of territory in just 400 words, including their biggest success, a failure that may or may not be linked, the influence on their interpersonal connections, and the lessons they gained from both.

In this essay, you should use at least one professional example. It will be different for each applicant, but if you were able to tell a good story about yourself in the first motivation essay, it’s usually best to talk about a professional accomplishment in this one. Failure can be used as a good example for both work and life.

For the accomplishment, you’ll need to explain not only what you did, but also what you had to overcome to do it, what resources you used, and why you’re proud of it. To make the biggest impression on the reader, show how you helped the organization by putting a number on the results.

For the failure, pick something you were responsible for, like a “mistake” or oversight you made at work (maybe earlier in your career), and then say what you learned from it. Even though it might not make sense, it is often better to show a big failure than a small one. Big mistakes can show that you are willing to take risks and have learned a lot from your past mistakes.

Since there is a word limit of 400 words you must take care in structuring this essay. If you’re talking about examples that aren’t related, we suggest putting the success and failure into two 200-word “mini-answers” to make sure you cover every part of the question. Or, if you had a success and a failure (not necessarily in that order) during the same project or activity, it might make more sense to tell the story in order.

Do you want to impress the INSEAD Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Motivation Essay 3

Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max)

Applicants are asked to describe how their past and current interests and hobbies have enriched their lives through this essay. Candidates who are well-rounded and decent citizens are often sought after by business schools and INSEAD is no exception. Depending on the activity, either one or both traits may be highlighted.

Often, it works best to write three or four paragraphs, each with its own main idea. Consider getting a few experiences from the following:

  • The clubs you were in, the student council you were on, etc.
  • Doing community work or volunteering
  • Hobbies/passions

You might find it helpful to think about the “Why, What, and How” of the thing you’ve chosen to do with your free time. Why did you decide to help kids who don’t have much? What do you get from training for a marathon besides “getting in shape”? How did campaigning for a candidate change the way you thought and improve your skills?

Also, everyone likes to travel, take pictures, watch movies, or play video games. If you don’t have something truly unique to say about either of these things, you might want to show off interests that make you stand out.

Optional Essay

Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (300 words, maximum)

Applicants are encouraged to contribute any material that they believe is relevant to their application in this openly phrased optional essay (in addition, of course, to explaining extenuating circumstances or acknowledging weaknesses in their applications). Candidates should, however, keep in mind that INSEAD’s essay prompts span a wide range of topics, so it’s a good idea to see if their essay answers any of these questions.

Let us help you get into INSEAD

We will help you write essays that portray your unique strengths and experiences in the most favorable light so that your application shines above the rest. We have helped hundreds of students get into top US and European business schools. Let us help you too.

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