Over the past several months, I have been contacted by INSEAD applicants who have asked for advice on various topics. While I haven’t met them in person, I’ve replied to their queries as best as I can.
Now that I’ve resumed work, it has been harder to set aside time to help these people. Regretfully, I cannot promise to meet them in person or answer more than a couple of questions.
Since being contacted by several such applicants, I’m now wondering if it is possible to tell, after a single meeting or some email correspondence and a glance of the resume, whether a candidate has a chance of getting into INSEAD.
Surely the Admissions Board will be going over the applications with a finer-toothed comb, but perhaps a rough gauge is possible, if Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink theory holds true.
Firstly, from the type of questions asked, I can tell if a candidate has done his/her homework. Some questions are basic and you can find the answers on the INSEAD website or via Google or other students’ blogs. Thus if you ask that type of question I’d get the impression that you’re not a thorough sort of person and/or aren’t taking this seriously enough.
Secondly, I look at the person’s background, because INSEADers tend to have international experience. I also see if the candidate has some unusual interests that could help him/her stand out from the tonne of applicants. I’ve answered queries related to first round interviews, and predicted correctly that one candidate would most likely get offered a place (from how she described her first interview experience).
I have answered queries related to the culture of INSEAD versus other similar European business schools, because that is something more personal and not easy to suss out from corporate brochures. Also, it is very important to find the right fit. Even if you meet the academic and work experience requirements, the interviews will help assess if you can fit into our culture. For that, I cannot advise you to be anything other than yourself.
Whatever the case, I do hope that those who contact me via this blog have already read through my posts first as they give a deeper Insight into what I’ve experienced. If, after doing so, some queries remain, then by all means drop me a note and I’ll do my best to help, even if it may take me longer to respond now.
I do this because - being a typical ENFJ type - I have a genuine interest in people, generally. All the more when meeting (fellow) future business leaders of the world!
Also, by publishing this blog and showing up in search engines, I am aware that people will contact me. However I do appreciate getting queries that are incisive, where the answers are not easily found elsewhere online.
Finally, I do get a little vicarious joy in hearing, several months later, that someone I advised has made it to INSEAD. This has just happened and I hope to hear more good news from a couple other candidates soon. It also reminds me of the time, over 2 years ago, when I received the acceptance phone call from France and could scarcely contain myself with happiness.
I hope many of you reading this, who are seriously intending to apply to INSEAD or another top business school, will experience that feeling as well.