HEC Paris MBA Application Essay Questions and Tips

Ranking in the top 10 MBA programs in the world gives HEC Paris an edge when it comes to having its pick of the MBA applicants. The school also allows MBA applicants with 5+ years of work experience or athletes waivers for the minimum requirement of an undergraduate degree making an MBA more accessible to applicants with diverse educational backgrounds.

However, the MBA essay section of HEC Paris’ MBA application looks a lot like top European business schools.

With 6 essays prompts, 5 mandatory, and one optional, HEC allows the MBA applicant ample space to share their story. while the first essay prompt has a 500 word-limit, the other 4 mandatory essays have been limited to 250 words.

The short essays make the seemingly tedious application process for HEC much easier on the applicants while allowing them to share important aspects of their story with the admissions committee. Unlike many top schools, HEC’s optional essay (additional information) provides MBA applicants with a 900 word-limit giving them ample space to address any shortcomings in their MBA profile.

In addition to the MBA essays, HEC also has a presentation that the MBA applicant needs to share during their interview. We will be discussing tips to ace the interview presentation as well.

HEC Paris MBA Application Essays

Essay Question 1: Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words max.)

If you have applied to any other schools in addition to HEC, you would have already answered at least one Career Goals essay. The HEC essay however is phrased differently and should be answered in the order it’s phrased.

The first part of the question asks you to share recent events that made you realize the need for an MBA for your current progression. What happened in the past year that introduced you to your post-MBA goal and the gap of skill sets that you wish to fill with an MBA.

The second part of this essay question moves into more details about your post-MBA career goals and the significance of the HEC experience.

The HEC experience includes the MBA classroom as well as the HEC campus and social events. Networking with the HEC community will give you a clearer look into the community and faculty at the school. it will also help you identify which events, clubs, professors, and classes can help you fill the gap between your current skill sets and post-MBA career goals.

Essay Question 2: What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words max.)

Although not explicitly mentioned here, this is a two-part question.

Yes, the HEC Paris admissions committee wants to know what you consider your most significant life achievement.

But they also want to understand why you consider this achievement significant. What impact did this achievement create in your life? It helps the admissions committee in understanding what drives you and motivates you.

Spend more time explaining why this achievement is significant to you rather than simply detailing what the accomplishment was.

Essay Question 3: Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words max.)

This question asks you about a situation where you faced a moral dilemma at your workplace or in a corporate setting. Don’t look at this as the opportunity to snitch on your boss, or spill the beans about that one colleague of yours you don’t agree with.

Share a real dilemma where the choices you had were actually difficult to take. Where there were serious cons to both the options you had available to you. Also, explain why you made the choice you made and how it affected every decision that you made going forward.

Essay Question 3: Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words max.)

This question asks you about a situation where you faced a moral dilemma at your workplace or in a corporate setting. Don’t look at this as the opportunity to snitch on your boss, or spill the beans about that one colleague of yours you don’t agree with.

Share a real dilemma where the choices you had were actually difficult to take. Where there were serious cons to both the options you had available to you. Also, explain why you made the choice you made and how it affected every decision that you made going forward.

Essay Question 4: Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words max.)

What if things hadn’t fallen in place for you the way they did? What would your life be like had you made some other choices? Had you pursued a hobby more as a passion? Or choose a different industry?

This question is for the applicant to explore an alternate reality that they could have pursued. However, don’t make this an escapists story. If this essay changes your core personality and values completely from the rest of your profile, it will raise serious red flags for the HEC Paris admissions committee.

Essay Question 5: Please choose from one of the following essays, 250 words max.:
a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?
b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyse it.
c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc)

Before you blindly decide which one of these prompts you will be answering, answer them all.

Rather than writing a 250-word answer to a single prompt and then realizing that another prompt would have been more impactful to answer, answer all these questions in a few words.

Once you have small versions of your answers to all these prompts, figure out which answer adds the most value to your MBA profile. Do any of your answers back up any claims your MBA profile makes? Does any answer show traits or values that the school resonates with?

Once you have your prompt selected, don’t just share the answer to “What?” for all these questions. Also, answer the “Why?”. Why are you fond of a certain memory? Why does something make you the most afraid?

Essay Question 6: Optional: Is there any additional information you would like to share with us? (900 words max.)

The HEC admissions committee is interested in getting to know prospective students. Sometimes, they meet applicants who have amazing stories and are a great fit for HEC’s community but lack in certain areas in their MBA profile. This is the space for such applicants.

If your MBA profile has any clear liabilities, like a low GMAT/GRE, below-average GPA as per HEC, low work experience, use this space to address them. While addressing the shortcomings in your MBA profile, keep in mind that the HEC admissions committee does not expect you to be a perfect candidate. They will be willing to look over a below-average GMAT score if you have other coursework that makes up for it.

As you address the liability in your MBA profile, keep it simple. Layout the facts of the situation, share the reason behind the liability without playing the victim or transferring blame and end on a high note by pointing out other factors from your profile that dampen the significance of the liability.

In addition to this, if there is a significant accomplishment that couldn’t be mentioned in any other space throughout your HEC MBA application, use this space to mention it. Make sure you also explain why that accomplishment is significant enough for you to share it with the HEC admissions committee.

Other Useful Links:

Student Speak: After Facing Rejections for 2 Years, Indian IT Applicant Cracks HEC Paris

Student Speak: HEC Paris MBA, Interview with Indian Student

How to get TOP MBA Scholarship with Low Score

What do TOP Business Schools look for in MBA Applicants?



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