IMD Essay Analysis

1. Please describe the situation you will be seeking after graduation (please specify position, responsibilities, industry, location, etc.). Very briefly give us your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals and objectives. (1,230 character limit)

Amid very tight word constraints, you will need to offer very precise details of your short-term position, but thereafter can broaden your scope significantly with your mid-term objectives and especially with your “ultimate” objective. The key to this bullet of an essay is to show continuity in your objectives, from the present throughout your career and also to show distinct ambition – certainly a tall task in approximately 200 words.

2. What do you consider your single most important achievement and why? (1,230 character limit)

3. Please describe two situations, business or otherwise, in which you were involved and which were of importance to you. Explain why you view them as such. (1,230 character limit each)

Essays two and three are very similar; the key is to choose a diversity of accomplishments within these three opportunities. (Clearly, candidates’ answers will vary significantly, based on different professional, personal, community or academic accomplishments.) It is important that you not forget that there are two elements that need to be tackled, the story of your accomplishment itself and then a reflective element (“why you view them as such”). The second half of this question should not be ignored; your personal thoughts are no one else’s and can differentiate you from the pack.

4. Please comment on a situation where you failed to reach an objective and what you learned from it. (1,230 character limit)

The best failure essays show reasoned optimism and tremendous momentum toward a goal – a goal that is ultimately derailed. You will need to quickly show that you were emotionally invested in your project/experience, which will enable the reader to connect with your story and vicariously experience your disappointment. If you were not invested at all, it is hardly credible to discuss the experience as a failure or learning experience.

Of course, the reflective element is vitally important. It is very easy to offer trite and clichéd statements about your response and what you learned about yourself (Note: everyone learns resiliency – consider another key learning). It will take time to truly create a unique statement about your road forward and lessons learned, but the payoff will come in an essay that is much more personal and self-aware than thousands of others.

5. Describe a situation where you had to demonstrate strong leadership skills. Explain how effective you were and what you learned. (1,230 character limit)

In this essay, you will need to show a clear cause and effect relationship between your actions and the resulting implication for others. A successful essay will show how you took specific steps to produce the desired results, focus on the results themselves and then, most importantly, add a reflective element, explaining the personal significance or learning, via the experience. This essay does not demand that you exemplify rousing leadership — the goal is to show how you exercise your influence and bring about a new and better reality.

6. How do you imagine your superior would describe your strengths and weaknesses to someone who does not know you? (1,230 character limit)

With respect to your strengths, even in such a short space, it is vital that you offer evidence of them by way of examples. Being insincere with your weaknesses and offering disguised strengths will only show that you do not have the capacity for self-reflection or the ability to manage criticism. You might find it difficult to be forthright, but by identifying those that are not damning (meaning those that are not critical to your success at IMD), you will gain the credit that disingenuous statements (i.e., “My weakness is that I am too passionate about my work…”) will only undermine.

7. What is motivating you to seek an MBA education at IMD? (1,230 character limit)

Because of significant overlap from one MBA application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer our guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today.

8. What will you be able to contribute that will make you a valuable addition to the IMD MBA class? (1,230 character limit)

In such a short space, candidates should consider limiting their contributions to one or two themes, possibly one professional (subject relevant expertise) and one interpersonal element (facilitator, diplomat). Again, in such a short space, it may seem difficult to offer examples, but they are the evidence that the committee needs to truly understand your assertions. Further, it is not enough to just state your contribution; you should take the additional step of showing your contribution in action.

9. If you are not admitted, what alternatives will you consider? (1,230 character limit)

This essay can be a conundrum for some; the key to a successful essay is to show that you will still progress, but that you will nonetheless have an identifiable need for your MBA as well. Essentially, you want to show that your career will not grind to a halt, but that you could better approach your tasks and reach your ambitions with an MBA and will either reapply or simply attempt to acquire your MBA via de facto experience.

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