Video interviews are here to stay at Kellogg
Kellogg confirmed last summer that they would once again be asking MBA applicants to go through the video interview questions for the school’s MBA Class of 2017 application. The “video essays” were introduced last year by both Kellogg and Yale SOM (we also analyzed the Yale video essay at length as part of our Analyzing the Applications series). Video interviews help schools compare applicants more directly, as the admissions committee is not only able to watch every applicant’s video (as opposed to seeing just the handful that they interview) but they are also able to juxtapose applicants’ answers directly.
At the same time, the new video essay format induced a lot of anxiety among applicants. However, we do not think there is much cause to be anxious. If you are about to go through the video interview process, we suggest that you read our list of preparation tips in order to increase your odds of making a positive impression on the adcom.
Key changes this year: less time to prepare, only one attempt to make an impression
For starters, Kellogg allows applicants 20 seconds to collect their thoughts before the recording begins. Even though this is much less than last year (applicants had more than a full minute to prepare then), it is still ample time to think about. In addition, applicants are offered to practice as much as they with a list of 10 practice questions, which should give everyone a chance to become familiar with the the format and technology. According to the school, “the practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool and help applicants feel prepared”.
Last year, applicants could sleep over their first recording and perform a new attempt in a separate session. The process therefore was quite forgiving, and was not meant to generate stress at all. Unfortunately, it seems that this will no longer be the case this year, so we recommend to practice extensively prior to answering the actual application question. Even worse, while last year applicants were given three attempts to record their answer, this year the school is stating that “there is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions. We encourage applicants to practice so they are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions“. This is quite a significant change.
Kellogg video interview questions are mostly personal
The questions for Kellogg’s video interview should be personal in nature, so applicants don’t need to worry about solving a tough math problem or answering a business question. The admissions committee says this is so they can get to know the applicants better — a sign they’ll ask about your extracurricular activities, passions, and priorities. This is something you can anticipate and prepare for, brainstorming a handful of anecdotes about who you are, what you like to do, and the things that make you tick. Having these stories at the front of mind (you shouldn’t be using notes for the video question!) is important; our advice to “show, don’t tell” applies to video questions and interviews as much as it does to essays. We have gathered a few example questions that were asked to candidates who went through the video essay last year. As you can see below, these questions were pretty straight forward, and there weren’t any curve balls:
Sample Kellogg Video Essay Questions (actual questions reported by past applicants).
- Why are you applying to Kellogg? (every applicant should prepare for this question)
- What makes you a great fit for Kellogg?
- What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try?
- What is one piece of technology you can’t live without?
- What is the most interesting course you took as a student?
- If you could meet anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?
- What is your most treasured possession and why?
- What inspires you?
- Why did you choose your college major?
- What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
- If you could teach a class on any subject, what would it be and why?
- What is one interesting thing about you that you would want you future Kellogg classmates to know?
We also want to credit UCLA MBA student Piyush Jain for posting this quite comprehensive list of questions on his blog (we have removed duplicates from this list):
- If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
- What word describes you best and why?
- Tell us about the first job you ever had?
- What’s the best book you have ever read and why?
- When you have a problem, whom do you approach for advice and why?
- What accomplishment are you really proud of?
- What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
- If you could witness any event..past present or future-what would it be?
- Tell us about an organization or activity in which you have dedicated significant time. Why was it meaningful to you?
- What have anyone done good for you and how did you felt about it?
- Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve traveled to. What did you enjoy most about it.
- What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
- If money was not a concern. what would you do?
- What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- What food do you like? Will you be able to eat that food everyday?
- How have you changed in the last 5 years?
- Whom do you respect most, and why?
- What is your favorite motto or quote, and why
- What risk have you taken and what did you learn?
- What impact do you have on your co-workers?
In a supporting video (posted below) Kate Smith, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, reiterated that the purpose of this video essay was for the adcom to “get to know you”, and insisted that there wee no right or wrong answers.
The easiest way to let this new video question hurt your application is therefore to allow it to become a bigger focus than it deserves to be. It is a small, supplemental piece of the puzzle, and it will rarely elevate a mediocre candidate from ding to admit. More often than not, you should only expect this video question to ding a few candidates that come across as remarkably obnoxious, self-absorbed, or disconnected from reality in another way.
So, to ace this part of the Kellogg interview, keep it in perspective. Be yourself, of course, prepare a handful a good stories, practice answering potential prompts a few times, and dress the way you would for an actual interview.
Don’t forget to stay tuned to this space as we analyze Kellogg’s essay questions and the rest of the schools application!
Get ready: professional video essay preparation service is now available
Feeling that you are ready to apply to Kellogg and need help preparing for the video essay? MBA Admissions Advisors just launched a new service to specifically help Kellogg applicants prepare for their video essay. We’ll put you under similar conditions as the actual admissions video interview, and will provide you with personalized feedback and recommendations. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more about this service.
Finally, why not try our MBA matching algorithm and get an assessment of your profile within a couple of minutes? Or feel free to reach out to us to request a free consultation. We’d love to help.
Admissions Tip: Video Essays
It’s no secret that the use of video in the MBA application is becoming increasingly popular among top business schools. Schools that now use these so-called video essays include Northwestern / Kellogg, INSEAD and Yale SOM. Typically you will be provided with a question, then a short amount of time to think about the question (30 seconds for example) and then a limited amount of time to provide your recorded answer, typically 60-90 seconds. In the tips that follow, we’ll explain the origins of video essays and provide a series of practical and strategic pointers to ensure that you ace this aspect of the admissions process.
Why B-Schools Use Video Essays
So why are some schools adopting this new means of assessing a candidacy – beyond the fact that it is new technology that was not available in earlier years?
Video essays have to be submitted without the direct support of admissions consultants and others who can provide feedback for candidates. In that sense, the content response can be perceived as more authentic than an essay; schools know with a degree is certainty that this is the response of the candidate.
2. English Language & Communications Skills
Because a candidate cannot get editing support for these responses, it is also a great test of the language skills of a candidate. It is also a good test of broader communication skills, testing your ability to think in the moment, gathering your thoughts and responding. Certainly the video responses provide a different level of assessment of communication than what can be learned in the essays, which may have been edited by others.
In most cases, a candidate will not have the questions ahead of the time that the responses are required, which is typically after the application is submitted. This forces the candidate to be spontaneous. Of course, the questions are not supposed to be overly tricky, and you can get a sense of the types of questions asked by searching the web; some schools even have practice questions on their website. Clear Admit’s Yale Interview Guide includes some of the questions that have been used by Yale in previous years. Yale asks for three video responses, drawn randomly from a bank of questions.
Video Essay Tips
1. Practice makes perfect!
Because you don’t know your questions ahead of answering a video essay, this does not mean you should not practice. On the contrary, it is very important to practice answering questions in this format. You can get a sense of timing so you can understand how long 90 seconds is, when you are answering one question. It can also be strange at first, when you are providing your answers without getting any visual cues from your audience, as you would in a traditional interview. Those cues can help you direct your response in a traditional interview, in a video response you are on your own. So practice, and then practice some more.
2. Review your work
If you use Skype, or similar technology, practice creating video messages, and review. You should also consider your eye contact, look at the camera, not at the screen, which is more natural for you. Also make sure that your camera is at eye-level, you don’t want to be looking up, or down, at the camera. Looking at the camera, and making sure the camera is at eye-level will best simulate an in person experience for the person(s) reviewing the videos.
3. Video essays should support the application messaging
As with any other part of your application, keep on message. Your video responses will be reviewed in the broader context of the remainder of your application, your experiences, goals and so forth. It is important that your video responses support your goals, while highlighting your personality.
4. Don’t let setting, wardrobe, or technology distract
Dress well, at least for the part of you that will be visible. Make sure that the room in which you record your videos has a clean background, and the lighting of the room helps highlight you. You want the person who is viewing your videos to be able to see you clearly, and not be distracted by the background. Also make sure that there are no other audio distractions during your video responses, and that your technology is tested, and works!
Responses to video essays might not need to be perfect, but they will add a significant dimension to your application that cannot be gleaned from other aspects of the written application. For this reason, these responses are very important, and practice, even around questions that might not be used, will help you overcome any unfamiliarity with this new format.
Posted in: Admissions Tips, Application Tips, Essay Tips & Advice, Essays