Video ESSAYS and how to attempt them
Congrats! You have a fantastic GMAT score, compelling essays and are feeling confident about your chances of getting in. Before you take a breather, it is VERY LIKELY that you might have to sing and dance like a star before you get your coveted admit! (We’re kidding, but you might have to SPEAK on a video). Let’s delve deeper into the dynamics of a MBA video ESSAY questions!


Video Essays: forms and types:

Several business schools- for eg. NYU, McCombs etc- are asking for video essays. Just to get the lingo out of the way, let’s first, differentiate between VIDEO ESSAYS vs VIDEO INTERVIEW (live version) vs VIDEO INTERVIEW (pre-recorded version)

Video essays, as the name indicates, are essays that an applicant needs to answer in a video format. Click on the link to understand the difference between VIDEO INTERVIEW (live version) vs VIDEO INTERVIEW (pre-recorded version)

There are typically 4 things you should know while answering the video essays:


  • If given a choice, you should answer a video essay over choosing other mediums:

Consider for eg. the following questions prompt from Cornell:


Table of Contents Essay

You are the author of your Life Story. Please create the Table of Contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.

Here, you are given a choice to create a video for this question or use other medium of communication. Keeping individual preferences aside, there is ton of research to indicate that for most humans, visuals work better than a script. Therefore, to maximise your chances of getting in, you SHOULD prefer shooting a video over using any other medium of communication.

  1. Keep your video simple (don’t try to be the next Spielberg):

We always advice our clients not to be fancy. It is completely normal to shoot a very simple video, wherein you simply look into the camera and speak. You don’t need to have extensive storylines or impressive editing.


FAQ: Doesn’t the school expect us to be creative (as explicitly stated in the question above?

  • We would like you to consider two points: (1) MBA is not art school- being creative does not mean creating impressive storylines or great editing (2) Unless you are inherently creative, discovering creativity is going to take significant amount of time and effort. Additionally, you can never be sure on how creative outputs are going to be perceived.
  1. Don’t speak at length: Keep the length of the video at max 2 minutes, unless otherwise instructed.


FAQ: Shouldn’t I throw more content? Where am I going to tell more stories?

  • First, if you speak at length about yourself the chances are that people will get bored. 5 minutes might not look that long, but the admissions team review 100s of video essays and like other human beings, they have a limited attention span. If you can’t impress them in 2 minutes, then you are not going to impress them in 5. Keep it short and sweet!
  • Second, 2 minutes are more than enough to make your points, if your content is sharp. Several research people clearly indicate that people need time to process the information. If you throw 5 minutes worth of information at someone, it is unlikely that they are going to process it fully.
  1. Don’t state the obvious/cliched stuff:
  • Don’t state stuff that you have repeated in your other essays/resume
  • Don’t tell your “life story”- it is cliched. Your intent here should be to put forward unique points.