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IMD New Essay Questions

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Swiss MBA powerhouse IMD has changed their essay requirements in the middle of the application season with new essay questions released on February 14th. The questions will take effect before the school’s Round Two deadline of April 1st, and will also be applicable for their final September 1st deadline, leading up to the start of classes in January of 2015.

Following a widespread trend of reducing application word counts, IMD’s new essay questions call for 1,000 fewer words. The questions themselves are very open-ended, and will allow applicants a lot of leeway to tell their story on their own terms. They are:

  • Essay 1:  Describe yourself in two hundred words or less.
  • Essay 2:  Give an example of a time when you were confronted with an unrecoverable event. How did it affect you and what were your greatest learnings? (300 words)
  • Essay 3: On your 75th birthday, someone close to you presents your laudatio (can be a friend, colleague, family member, etc. Please describe in detail what they would say about you and your life. (300 words)
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The average age of IMD students (31) is slightly higher than that of typical B-schools, and they require at least 3 years of full-time work experience. They are looking for students with significant professional and personal experiences that can contribute to their class, so make sure that your essays share tangible accomplishments and results. On the surface, such broad questions might make this task seem easy. However, when faced with very open-ended topics, it can be difficult to decide which elements and anecdotes to focus on. Here are a few tips:
Essay Questions
Essay 1:

 To me, this is one of the simplest yet toughest questions of all. Clearly defining your personal brand- if you have not already- will make this question a lot easier. Use this space to focus on the most important elements of the narrative that you are presenting. Instead of a laundry list of characteristics, focus on telling a story. There are so many ways to tell your story, but whatever way you choose, it should highlight your motivations, your professional experiences and goals, and your passions.

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Essay 2:

It is important to note IMD’s word choice here. They are not looking for a setback or a minor failure- they are looking for “an unrecoverable event”. I would recommend focusing on a professional event, as IMD is most interested in how you handle yourself in the business world. If you do wish to focus on an event that has transformed your personal life, make sure that you say how that event impacted your career, and how it made you grow as a professional. Above all, be honest. Do not skate over your own role in a particular failure. It is hard to come across as sincere if you will not even admit your own mistakes. Do so, and then focus on the positive- how that failure shaped you and what you learned.

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Essay 3:

In case you were wondering, a laudatio is an address of praise. This question allows for a good bit of imagination and creativity, and once again, it is important to tell a story. Before answering, take some time to think about all of the things you could possibly accomplish by age 75. Look to older people in your life for inspiration, and tick off items on your own “bucket list” of hopes and dreams. Focus particularly on how business school might help you achieve those goals, and how the values that IMD represents- diversity, internationalism, leadership- will be reflected in your future.

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