MBA Video Essay: Ready For Your Closeup?

December 27 2022 By The MBA Exchange
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As an MBA applicant, one of the big hurdles of the application process has always been conveying your strengths, mitigating your weaknesses and capturing your uniqueness in essays. It’s not easy to assess your candidacy and portray it in writing. In recent years, the challenge has expanded as several leading b-schools introduced a video “essay, test or interview” component to their admissions process.

Today, thousands of MBA applicants have to overcome stage fright, sweaty palms and technical constraints to tell their story in a clear, convincing and authentic way via webcam.

Are you ready for the closeup challenge of the MBA video essay? At The MBA Exchange, we’ve got your back when it comes to essential MBA video essay tips and tricks. After reading this blog, you’ll be more confident in your next steps for video essay prep.

What is an MBA application video essay?

There are two kinds of MBA Admissions video essays – “produced” and “impromptu.”

In some MBA video essay examples, applicants produce their own video essay in response to a question provided in advance by the school or about a topic created solely by the candidate. In other cases, applicants must answer one or more impromptu questions, presented in real time by the school, with a strict time limit deadline for the video response.

For both kinds of videos, the underlying goal is the same – convince adcoms that you are someone who understands and represents what the school is seeking to accept for its incoming class members, able to clearly state complex ideas and information.

What schools are requiring video essays?

The growing list of MBA programs that have some type of video element includes MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, Chicago Booth, INSEAD, Yale SOM, NYU Stern, Texas McCombs, Toronto Rotman and UWO Ivey.

The primary reason that a business school or university includes a video component in their admissions process is to see and hear how effectively the applicant communicates. The fact that the video is a one-way communication from the candidate, without seeing the reaction of an interviewer, only adds stress to the test!

What are examples of an MBA video essay question?

Even though many schools refer to the video component as an “essay,” in many ways this element is more like an “interview” than an MBA written essay.

MBA video essay sample questions could include:

  • What is a book that has had an impact on your life?
  • How have you handled negative feedback in the past?
  • How would your supervisor describe your performance?
  • What is something about yourself you’d like to change?
  • What projects have you worked on that you’re proud of today?

In order to be able to handle these types of broad video essay MBA questions, you need to prepare, practice and refine your responses ahead of time. During the “analysis & planning” component of our Comprehensive Consultation at The MBA Exchange, we help our clients create a matrix that organizes their best strengths as a candidate into an actionable construct. 

Being able to identify which aspects of your candidacy align best with the school’s admissions criteria is essential. And you have to do it quickly and naturally in front of a camera. This requires organizing your candidacy within a simple framework from which you can retrieve and articulate your key selling points, depending upon the question being asked.

What do I wear for an MBA video essay?

You need plenty of preparation for video essays, including abundant time and attention to planning content as well as consideration of technical factors such as audio and video quality. And then, there’s the question of what to wear! (The answer? Business casual, as a rule of thumb.)

Business schools don’t expect applicants to submit Hollywood-quality videos. In fact, a video that’s too “perfect” might actually harm the candidacy. However, presenting a video with sub-par content, structure, style or production is an even bigger risk.

Once you feel reasonably comfortable with the content and delivery of your practice videos, it’s time to elevate your performance. This requires candid feedback, constructive criticism and actionable advice. 

That’s why The MBA Exchange features professional editors to help improve messaging and a video essay coach with expertise in production. Our clients benefit from the guidance and support of two key resources – an experienced admissions consultant to help optimize message content and structure, and a skilled Video Coach to help ensure production quality (e.g., lighting, backdrop, clarity etc.). That’s a winning combination when it comes to MBA video essay content creation!