What is a Video Essay?

Most B-schools have made video essays an important part of their application process. It acts as a way for the admissions committee to evaluate your interpersonal skills. Another reason behind B-schools requesting for video essays is to look for genuine responses from candidates. The admissions committees at most of the top universities believe that video essays have proven valuable to examine an applicant’s competencies and aptitude apart from being an authentic way to showcase their passion, motivation and talent. 

The video essays are viewed as an interactive way of communicating with the prospective students. It is also beneficial for applicants who may not have very good grades to exhibit their personality and traits which may otherwise not be seen in a traditional application process.

The format of these video essays varies depending on the school you are applying to. A few schools opt for an open ended format like – Cornell, MIT whereas schools like Kellog and Yale have a question and answer format. The open ended format provides the students with the freedom to speak about anything they wish to and the question and answer format will have a prompt after which the students have approximately 45-90 seconds to answer.

Tips and Strategies to Become Acquainted with Both Types of Essay Format

We have listed below a few strategies to help you become comfortable with both types of essay formats.

  • Ensure to practice repeatedly until you are comfortable with the entire format. You could record yourself and practice your timing as well. Most schools set a prescribed time limit for the video essays and your video must be within the allotted time.
  • Prepare for the question and answer format beforehand so that you are familiar with the pattern. You may receive randomly generated questions so it is important to be prepared with a variety of topics and you can even draw inspiration from your personal experiences while answering. Remember that you must be real and not fake.
  • Alternatively you may also have questions specified in the instructions. While this may appear straightforward it is essential that you talk about the school’s values, attributes which you think will help you reach your goals. The schools will look for genuine answers and not well scripted or rehearsed videos. Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers.
  • You must get accustomed to receiving no feedback for your responses since this is a one way video recording. You could try practicing in front of a mirror to get used to this method.
  • In addition to the above points, you could also create a list of your key strengths and weaknesses. This could come in handy when you are expected to answer specific questions like – What do you consider as your biggest strength  and how has it impacted your life? You must be able to answer this question with a real life example where you displayed your strengths. 

Now that you have learnt a few strategies to help you prepare for the video essays, let us ook at the types of questions which you will generally be asked for video essays.

Most of the questions which the universities ask fall under 3 basic categories:

  •  First – Introducing yourself, getting to know you
  • Second – What are your career goals and why did you choose to do an MBA
  • Third – Behavioural questions

Kellogg university provides practice questions and an experience to simulate the actual video essay experience. This will help you to get acquainted with the entire process.

Below we have listed a few examples of questions which you are likely to come across for video essays.

Question Examples 
  • Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your life?
  • Talk about a team disagreement and how you handled it.
  • Tell us about an activity to which you have dedicated significant time. How was it meaningful to you?
  • What 3 qualities must a leader have according to you and what is your strongest skill?
  • If you were a team leader and you had a worker who is underperforming– what would your next plan of action be?
  • Please respond to the following statement: “The world has changed so much in the past 500 years that it is simply impossible for innovation to keep at the same pace, meaning the next 500 years will change less than the previous 500 years.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  • What would you do if you moved to a completely new country for a new job?
  • How has the current crisis affected your industry?

The questions are broadly categorised into – Behavioural questions, Motivation for MBA, Business-acumen, Presenting yourself, Leadership and Team building.

Once you have prepared for the video essay with the different question types, the next step will be to check the various video recording softwares available.

Video Recording Softwares 

There are many video recording softwares and screen recording applications available. We have listed the popular ones below: 

  • iMovie,
  • Final Cut Pro, and
  • Windows Live Movie Maker.

Let us now look at some things to keep in mind while making a Video essay.

  • You can choose to do the shoot indoors/outdoors while ensuring it still appears formal.
  • Ensure that you are technology ready, that you have all the basic requirements ready to shoot your video which includes – a microphone, a good working camera, a room without any disturbance and a background which doesn’t distract the viewer. Make sure that the space you choose to shoot the video is well lit and quiet with no distractions.
  • You must make sure that your mobile phone and other computer applications are set to mute or silent mode.
  • It is important that you appear confident while answering the questions since this will be the first impression that you will create on the members of the adcom. Speak in a clear and concise manner.
  • Dress appropriately for the video session, You should be in formal attire throughout the video essay.
  • It is important to retain your originality in the video and you don’t end up copying concepts from other candidates or copying ideas from sample videos which you may have viewed online. 
  • Finally, don’t get stressed over the video essay and try to relax as you record so that you can enjoy the experience.

We hope this article has helped you understand more about what is meant by a video essay and how to present yourself while recording one.

Good Luck!

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