Tips for MBA Video Interview Questions (Yale/Kellogg)

A new piece of the MBA application that you might encounter is a set of video interview questions.  The format is similar to a Skype call but with instead of a person on the other end you have a pre-recorded prompt/question to which you’ll respond.  Once the prompt is finished, applicants have 20 seconds (for both Yale and Kellogg) to think of an answer and then a time to respond (up to 90 seconds for Yale and 60 seconds for Kellogg).  Applicants complete 3 questions for Yale and 2 for Kellogg.

I’ve personally been through the experience and can attest to the fact that it can be very stressful.  There is no feedback, no body language to read, and no one to interject and ask for clarifications.  However, there are many things that you can do to make sure you’re as ready as possible when that camera starts recording.

  1. Dress nicely
    • You’ll want to look polished and professional
    • Yes, even dress up on the bottom, too.  I dressed up all the way down to my shoes and socks, knowing full well that they would never show.  Being dressed up in full just puts you in that professional mindset.  I can easily imagine my posture being less impressive and answers being less incisive had I been rocking sweatpants and slippers under my desk.
  2. Look into the camera
    • This is pretty unnatural to do at first and so will require some practice.  It is natural to look around the room when speaking, especially when there is no one there to make eye contact with.  However, looking into the camera is your method of making eye contact in this case.  It’ll allow the people who watch the recording to connect with you and feel the emotions that you’re trying to convey in your answers.
  3. Take a second if you need to
    • If those twenty seconds are up and you don’t have an answer yet, don’t dive in.  Sure, you won’t have a pause at the beginning of your response but that response will likely be riddled with “uhs” and “ums” and will probably not answer the question in the end.  Instead, take five or ten more seconds to collect your thoughts.  Stay looking into the camera and never, ever apologize for nervousness.
  4. Sit against a clean background
    • Admissions officers don’t want to see a messy bedroom or the dishes in your sink.  Even if you have a neat dwelling, what’s behind you might distract the viewer from what you’re saying.  You want all of the focus on you.  Find a plain wall and drag a desk or table over to it.
  5. Adjust the camera height
    • Ideally, you want your camera to be at the same height as your eyes, or near it.  An upward angle is just less flattering.  If your table doesn’t reach that high, make use of some of those old textbooks until the camera is where you want it.
  6. Lighting
    • Make sure that the lighting is OK where you’re going to interview.  You don’t want a bright window behind you, lest you appear as a shadow.  My apartment has naturally dreary lighting, so I found a nice warm lamp and focused it on myself.
  7. Smile!
    • Admissions officers aren’t looking to invite your answers to join their MBA classes, they’re looking to invite you as a person.  Let your personality come out a bit through a warm smile and even a laugh or two, if the answer warrants it.
  8. Answer succinctly
    • Both Kellogg and Yale acknowledge that applicants do not have to take the full time to respond to the prompt.  In fact, if you do take the full time, there is a far better chance that you’ve begun to ramble or go off on a tangent.  Give complete answers but be concise.
  9. Practice!
    • This is most likely a type of interview that you have never been exposed to before (I surely hadn’t been), and even if you have you almost certainly have far less experience in this method of evaluation than traditional interviews.  To make sure you’re able to perform to your best ability come showtime, you’ll want to practice answering questions in the same manner that you’ll answer them in the interview.  Open Photo Booth or a similar video application, start recording, and throw a random question at yourself (closing your eyes and pointing works well).  Start a timer.  After 20 seconds, start answering.  When you feel like you’ve answered the question completely, stop your recording and the timer (hopefully you haven’t gone over in time–if you have, work on responding more succinctly).
    •  Now comes the cringeworthy part…watch your video.  It’s pretty awkward at first, I admit, but you can glean a lot of helpful information from it.  Are you making eye contact?  Are you smiling?  Are you saying “uh,” “um,” or “like” too frequently?  Are you swiveling too much in your chair?  Find where you can improve and do it.  I’ve included sets of practice questions for Yale and Kellogg based on feedback from interviewees of past application rounds.  Use them to practice with.
  10. Just do it
    • There will come a time where you will feel like you’ve practiced all that you can and are as ready as you’ll ever be.  At that moment sit down and do your questions.  “But what if you still have two weeks before they’re due?”  I’d argue that that doesn’t matter.  Many people tend to psyche themselves out and make the questions into something bigger than they are.  If you put them off and put them off you give them more power over you.  When you feel ready, just sit down with that confidence and knock the questions out.  This practice really helped me out when I was completing my interview questions.

Yale SOM Video Interview Sample Questions

  1. What qualities would your friends use to describe you?
  2. Please respond to the following statement: “Without Arts, an education can not be accomplished” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  3. Please respond to the following statement: “As businesses become more global, the differences between cultures decrease.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  4.  Tell us about a challenging work experience and how you handled it.
  5. Tell us about how you engaged with a community or an Organization.
  6. Tell us about your leadership style.
  7. How did you contribute to your company/organization?
  8. Please respond to the following statement: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  9. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  10. Tell us about a difficult decision and how you handled it.
  11. Tell us about a creative solution you designed.
  12. How will you resolve a conflict with your future classmates at the program?
  13. What would you say is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Kellogg Video Interview Sample Questions

  1. What possession or memento do you treasure most and why?
  2. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
  3. What piece of technology could you not live without and why?
  4. What word describes you best and why?
  5. Tell us about the first job you ever had?
  6. What’s the best book you have ever read and why?
  7. When you have a problem, whom do you approach for advice and why?
  8. What accomplishment are you really proud of?
  9. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
  10. If you could witness any event..past present or future-what would it be?
  11. What one interesting or fun fact would you want your future kellogg classmates to know about you?
  12. If you could teach a class on any topic. What would it be and why?
  13. If you were given a chance to meet anyone, current or historical, who would you meet and why?
  14. What was the most interesting class you took at University?
  15. Tell us about an organization or activity in which you have dedicated significant time. Why was it meaningful to you?
  16. What have anyone done good for you and how did you felt about it?
  17. Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve traveled to. What did you enjoy most about it.
  18. What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
  19. If money was not a concern. what would you do?
  20. Why did you choose your college major?
  21. What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life? X 2
  22. if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  23. What food do you like? Will you be able to eat that food everyday?
  24. How have you changed in the last 5 years?
  25. Whom do you respect most, and why?
  26. What is your favorite motto or quote, and why
  27. What risk have you taken and what did you learn?
  28. What impact do you have on your co-workers?
  29. What inspires you?

Above all, remember that these questions are just another way for admissions officers to learn about you.  They are not looking for you to screw up; they are on your side.  I remember coming away from my Yale video interview very unsure of how I fared, but I was still admitted.  So, view this interview as just another way to supplement your application, not a make-or-break test that you need to pass.

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8 thoughts on “Tips for MBA Video Interview Questions (Yale/Kellogg)

  1. Hello there,

    Quick question – The deadline for the Yale Application this year is in 2 days (16th Sep ’15). If I submit my application on 16th Sep, what will the approximate deadline to submit the video questions?

    I look forward to your answer.

    Thank you

    Like

  2. Thank you for your response. If you could ask around, I would really it.

    Also, once the 90 secs for answering the question gets over, does the video recording stop on its own and throws the next question directly, or is there time between two questions?

    Looking forward to your response,

    Thanks,
    Neha

    Like

    1. I think there is a short pause between questions but you’ll complete them all in one sitting. So, regardless of how the previous question went just focus on the next one!

      Like

    2. Hi Neha,

      Did you answer the video questions? It would be great if you can give more information about your experience. Also, can you tell me if you were asked 3 of the above mentioned questions or if you came across something totally different?

      Cheers,
      Mike

      Like

  3. Dear Mike. I just completed my video essays for Insead. Out of the four questions I answered, I could complete only two on time. For my second and third response, I needed only about another 5 seconds to complete the answer. Will this be held against me? I had almost finished my answer. Please advise

    Like

    1. I doubt it they’ll hold it against you. As long as you had solid answers going and weren’t simply rambling, I’m sure they’ll be lenient. Best of luck!

      Like

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