From a low GMAT and a year gap to an INSEAD admit: Priya’s MBA admissions journey

I am excited- REALLY Thrilled to share the story below. This story will hopefully also motivate those applicants who DO NOT want any bad news in their mailboxes and get disappointed/sad/depressed in the middle of the game. I want to share- Before applicants crack TOP Schools- a lot of things go wrong. The idea is to stay committed! Every school/every essay/every application should be attacked as if it is the last application of the last school.

Read the story below:

Priya had a rollercoaster journey before she cracked INSEAD. When she started with us, in the first interaction she was told that her GMAT Score of 660 + INSEAD + Two-year GAP in work experience will not work, and INSEAD will not take her at all. She had approached us in round 2 for the August intake, and we strongly suggested she move to Round 1 of the January intake. While that Round was only 3 months away, it was essential for her to not only take GMAT but also form a strong story that could help her cover-up for the two years of work experience gap.

While Priya had a solid work experience history, her ongoing gap of 2 years and that too with a LOW GMAT score would have led to a straight reject without an interview. While we started working on her employability and helping her with the networking strategy, Priya started working on her GMAT. Applicants are strongly advised to not RUSH through the top school applications- it does not make sense to submit a pedestrian application as soon as possible. The idea is to submit a ROCKSTAR expression and get an admit. The idea is not to do the formality of submitting applications. The idea is to get the admits.

With 8 weeks of intensive GMAT preparation, We were glad to see that Priya jumped from 660 to 710. However, we knew that her GMAT Score was still around the Global GMAT average of INSEAD and that a work experience gap of 2 will KILL it for her.

We decided to focus 100% on employability and have a VERY STRONG Expression for -HOW SHE KNEW THAT INSEAD is her TOP CHOICE. I understood that this will not be easy, but I wanted to focus on ONLY AND ONLY her strengths. This process included very heavy networking, and I am glad that Priya was very enthusiastic throughout the process. Her INSEAD essays went through more than 5 iterations( some of them may be more), and with solid 4 months of hard work, came the day when INSEAD was about to send interview invites.

Well! Guess What! We did not get an interview invite.

She was dejected, as nothing that we had created seemed to have worked then. We thought- WELL TRIED! It is a TOP SCHOOL, and they chose to NOT INTERVIEW her! That is okay! And we moved on to her other PLAN B applications.

Then came the TURNING POINT 

4 weeks after the interview results were out, I got a call from Priya telling me that - She had an interview INVITE in her SPAM Email, and that interview invite was sent to her 4 weeks ago. I also realized that the proposed dates for her interviews had also passed, and we unknowingly had given INSEAD an impression that we were not interested as we had neither responded to that email nor had we completed the interview process. I do not know whether we were sad or panicking. At that moment, once again- we experienced losing INSEAD for the second time. We still did not give up :)! We helped Priya create a communication strategy to regenerate an interview conversation with INSEAD( Despite knowing that their Interview timelines were over). Two weeks of follow-ups and knocking the doors of everyone in the INSEAD admissions committee, we finally got INSEAD to say- YES! Let us INTERVIEW. Unfortunately, they did not give us enough notice as we had lost every calendar opportunity they had created for the Indian applicants in that Round and our interview was scheduled within a week from then.

And we were PREPARED! We had done our homework, had collated everything we had to know about INSEAD, our networking was rock-solid, and we knew that if allowed to respond to a question "Why do you wish to come to INSEAD?", we would JUMP and ATTACK! And we did.

Her Interview Experiences with INSEAD

INSEAD Did two face to face interviews ( both of them were conducted by INSEAD Alumnus staying in the national capital region). While one of them wanted to do an interview on employability, the other one wanted to assess a strong cultural fit.

One of the interviewers was a fresh entrepreneur( two years out of INSEAD, and the other one worked at a very senior position in a large Fortune 500 company in Gurgaon.

First Interview( Goals and employability)- The interview conversation lasted for over an hour, and the interviewer asked her everything related to goals, work experience gap, why INSEAD? He started picking up the bullets on her resume piece by piece and started asking her about the challenges she faced in different projects, how she handled those, and what her learnings were. I knew that we had done TOUGHER mocks with Priya and she would be able to manage everything- and SHE DID. She was and is a Rockstar!

Second interview: Her second interview hovered around the cultural characteristics, of INSEAD, and the interviewer wanted to assess how she thought she was a strong fit. This interviewer also wanted to see how she would hit the ground running in an international setting.

Within 3 weeks, she got a call from an international number and the voice said “CONGRATULATIONS ”

Everything that we had done, worked on, and planned- Everything had worked. After losing INSEAD twice in 1 month, we finally got the acceptance letter.

From a 660 to a 710 to a NO INTERVIEW INVITE to THE FINAL ADMIT- This was a roller-coaster journey, and we are glad to see that now Priya works as a senior product manager for one of the Tech Majors, and is living her dream( even though that Job is completely different from what she and I created on the Short term long term goals essays). And Happily Ever after :)

Directly from Priya

Hi Jatin, since you were the very first person I called after getting the coveted call from the MBA college I MOST desired, you can probably gauge how much I appreciate your help through this entire journey!! I wanted to write in and thank you again. You not only helped and guided me immensely with identification of goals, mock interviews, etc. which now in hindsight I realize are so very crucial in getting through a world-class school, but you also guided me with other aspects of my candidature which weren't necessary for the application package or your duties! This is just indicative of the extent of interest you take in each student and how you leave no stone unturned to get the student a world-class admit. You are truly an equal partner in my success and thank you once again for being a mentor along every step of this way :)