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Understanding the MBA Admissions Interview, Part IV

At INSEAD, Two Interviews Are Better than One

Another anomaly we’ll take a look at with regard to MBA admissions interviews comes as part of the admissions process at INSEAD. At INSEAD, applicants can expect to interview not once but twice, with two different alumni interviewers. The school has implemented this uncommon interview system because it provides the admissions committee with two additional, independent perspectives on each applicant while also helping to offset potential variability between individual interviewer’s style, time constraints or biases.

Notably, INSEAD tries to pair candidates with one interviewer who has a professional background similar to their own—as LBS does—and another one that does not.

So, what’s the best way to prepare for INSEAD’s dual interviews? Some INSEAD interviewers do ask for applicants’ essays in advance of the interview (or they may skim a copy you hand to them just before the interview), but most will only have had access to part of your data forms and your CV. “Given this, treat INSEAD’s interviews as you would a ‘blind’ interview,” advises Brown. “Start from scratch when you present your candidacy, since you can’t assume the interviewer will know your background or have more than a general understanding of your current job or industry.” Obviously, if you learn that one of your interviewers has a similar background to your own, you can adjust the level of detail you provide as necessary.

Overall, you should treat each interview as an individual assessment of its own, Brown suggests. “If you feel you performed poorly in the first interview, or did not really connect with the interviewer, don’t let it impact your preparation for the second interview,” he says. “INSEAD uses two interviews in part to help eliminate the risk that one poor interview kills a candidacy.”

HEC Paris=LBS+INSEAD?

At HEC Paris, meanwhile, the school combines the presentation component of the LBS interview process with the dual-interview approach used by INSEAD. All three schools call on alumni to conduct interviews. At HEC Paris, candidates are invited for two interviews after the Admissions Board has reviewed their applications and asked to give a presentation as part of each.

“Both interviews have equal weighting in the decision-making process and will consist of a 10-minute oral presentation on the topic of your choice, followed by an in-depth discussion concerning your application,” reads the HEC Paris website. (Both interviews are conducted in English, the language of instruction at the business school.)

Getting to choose your own presentation topic makes this component easier to prepare for than the LBS presentation. Of course, then there’s the pesky little detail of having to present twice. So maybe it’s a toss up?

That concludes our four-part MBA admissions interview series. Armed with the information and tips included in these four articles, we hope you’ll feel more prepared to tackle upcoming interviews at any one of your target schools. As always, remember to check out Clear Admit’s Interview Guide Series for even more detailed analysis of the interview process at each leading school. And turn to the Interview Archive as well, where you’ll find more than 1,000 detailed accounts from real applicants who’ve been in your shoes. But please don’t forget, the Interview Archive is only as valuable as the reports applicants submit. So if you find it helpful, do your part and leave your own reports for applicants who will follow you.

See the other parts in our Understanding the MBA Admissions Interview series:

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