8 Best Practices for MBA Application Video Essays

MBA Application Video TipsMBA Video Essay had some degree of success in the admission sphere over the past three years with the advent and growth of internet video as a popular viewing medium. Kellogg MBA Admissions team popularized the Video Essay where students get 1-2 minutes to prepare for the question and 2-3 minutes to record their answer in video format. For INSEAD, the recording time is as low as 60 seconds. Most schools offer a platform where you can practice the Video Essay multiple times with just once chance to record the answer. Use the time wisely. Practice for pacing the answer and covering the core of the question in the first 30 seconds.

We have compiled the eight Best Practices for creating awesome MBA Application Video Essays:

1) Use a Good Camera

Most laptops have a 3 Megapixel to a 5-megapixel inbuilt camera. But if you have watched some of the regular contributors in YouTube, what differentiates them from the amateurs is the quality of the video. You can borrow these cameras but here is our pick:

Top 3 video camera for MBA Application Video recording:

1) Canon 600D (Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP)
2) Nikon D7000
3) Canon EOS 700D(Canon EOS Rebel T5i 18.0 MP)

If you couldn’t get the camera, use the inbuilt camera on your laptop, and change the settings until you find the optimum pixels, hue, and color.

The advantage of using high pixel camera is that - once you have recorded your answers, it can be converted to lower pixels with reduced file size, and uploaded to MBA application page, depending on file upload requirements. With lower pixels, you cannot change the quality even with some of the best video editing software.

2) Buy a Good Mic

Audio compensates for the lack of video quality. AdCom wants to hear your answer and know that you haven’t edited your essays, 10 to 20 times with the help of consultants, and created an essay that is a far off representation of your true self.

We have tested a few mid to lower budget USB mics (mics that can be plugged into your laptop without any tuners), and here are our recommended two mics.

1)  Audio-Technica ATR2100USB (Good Quality & Affordable)
ii)  CAD u37 (Good Quality & Affordable)

3) Failsafe Internet Connection

We recommend applicants to avoid public Wi-Fi connections for recording sessions as you would have less control over the interruption in connection.  Make sure that you have a backup connection for the session. Most Business Schools will give you 2-3 chances to re-record your answers. Therefore, a foolproof internet connection is mandatory.

4) Set up the Environment

a) Software

Make sure that all the unnecessary background software applications are closed, and 90% of the processing power is allocated for the session. Close that Adobe Updater, email client software, and chat applications. You don’t want to record chat conversations and interesting email notifications accidentally during the session. Make sure that you record the answers on the full screen.

b) Lighting

Let the light fall on the subject – in this case, you. Don’t beam the light source to the viewer. Make sure that your room is well lit, and your background clutter free.

c) Noise

Make your room sound proof.  Close the door and windows, check for AC Noise, and test if any unanticipated noise is being recorded.

d) Interruption

Ask you friend, colleague, partner or family to guard your recording room against any unwanted interruption.

e) Dress Code

Even if you are recording the session at home, stick to the recommended dress code.

Recommended Dress Code
Men: No Jeans and T-shirt, No Jewelry except watch
Women: No revealing outfits. No Jeans and T-shirt. Minimal Jewelry

5) Know the Motivation

Getting a sense of who the interviewer is, and what the schools look in a candidate can be helpful for your preparation. If you are recording the answer with no live audience, the goal of the Video Essay is to measure Authenticity. The Admission team wants to make sure that the essays are a true representation of the applicant as a person. It is tough to fake your personality with visuals and voice without any retakes. Most admitted candidates take some form of help in Editing their essays. The School wants to avoid admitting students with mediocre communication skills.  Repeat the core positioning that you have used for your essays. Although you don't have to repeat the essay word by word, stick to the story and motivations. Don't diverge.

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6) Prepare

Most Video application questions are prompted randomly, and give little opportunity for the applicants to prepare. But if you have spent enough time preparing for MBA Admission interview, answering tough, and thought-provoking questions might have become second nature to you. Read our MBA Admission Interview Guide, and go through the list of questions asked in top Business Schools. It is a long list, but once you get the nature of questions, and learn how to answer them effectively, video answers become just another medium to answer questions. Practice the questions in an actual recording environment.

7) Focus on the Question

With MBA Video Application, the time allotted for each question is limited (1-3 minutes). Therefore, pay close attention to the question, understand the context, and answer only the question being asked. With essays, applicants have the option to rewrite and edit, but for video essay, you don’t have this luxury. Rambling about related topics from the question is not a good strategy. Start with the topic, and if you have the time to cover a related topic, go for it. A stopwatch on the side would come handy for practice and during the actual session.

8) Edit if Possible

Not all Business Schools would ask applicants to record the answers spontaneously. If you have the option to edit the video, choose one of the following software: Audacity (Free) for audio editing and PowerDirector 15 Ultra for video editing.

A lot of the tips shared in our MBA Admission Interview Guide can be used for your Video Essay. Download it here

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+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    Sample MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (319 Words)   
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    #2. Teamwork and Individual Ambition   
    #3. Adventure   
    #4. Diversity = Creativity   
    #5. Classroom Experience   
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     Sample Essay - Leadership and Challenges   
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+ Insead MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
   Sample Essay 1: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses
    Sample Essay 2: Achievements and Failures
    Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are

MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
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+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample MBA Essay – Investment Banker
     Sample MBA Essay - Consultant  
     Sample MBA Essay - Technologist  
     Sample MBA Essay - Marketer  
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    Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band   
    Sample MBA Essay: Technologist (Idea to Action)   
    Sample MBA Essay: Creative Marketing (Idea to Action)   
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    Sample MBA Essay: A valuable thing I have taught someone   
    Sample Essay – Part 2 (Short-term & Long-Term Goals, skills relevant to your career goals and how Ross  
    prepares you for the goals)   
+ Wharton MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
    7 Professional Gains
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    Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value for the Wharton Community (388 Words)   
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
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    London as the Consulting Hub   
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+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Case Study Method   
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+ Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
    Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua Short-Answer Essay Questions   
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+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
     Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words)    
     Essay 3:  Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")    
          5 Examples with Images

+ Sample Essays
+ The Art of Storytelling 
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses

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