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MBA Application Video Essay: 5 Ways To Stand Out

Want to ace the MBA application video essay? With a few simple steps, you can stand out as a must-have member of any business school’s community

We millennials are no doubt the most camera-friendly generation in the history of humankind, as we FaceTime our moms, Snapchat our friends, and add to our Instagram stories like we have our own reality shows.

But when a business school asks for a video essay as part of its application, you might find yourself suddenly camera shy. All of a sudden, you have to make a video that really matters. This is the one that’s supposed to get you into MIT Sloan or Kellogg or Yale.

Well first off, don’t sweat it. This video is just a supplement to the application so that programs can get a better sense of who you are and how you would fit into that school’s community.

A mediocre video essay may not sink your application, but it certainly wouldn’t help. A video essay that could be used for any school you’re applying for can really turn off the person evaluating your application.

So, don’t be basic. Stand out. Here’s five ways to stand out in your MBA application video essay:


1. Think Like A Movie Director

Pretend you’re Martin Scorsese and meticulously control every element of what’s in the camera frame.

Think about the background. You don’t want anything embarrassing, but if you have a piece of art in your house that you love, it can add a lot of personality to your video.

Make sure your lighting is good. You don’t want to appear dark and shadowy on camera, but you also don’t want your face to be washed out by too much sunlight. Try closing your blinds and using overhead lights and lamps.

Dress like this is the most important interview of your life. Remember, you’re applying to business school not business casual school. And, of course, make sure you have a perfect internet connection wherever you plan on filming the video essay.


2. Write Yourself A Great Script

Research each program’s guidelines for the video essay independently. Some of them will tell you the exact questions they’re going to ask, and some will just give you rough guidelines about what to expect. Either way, jot down some notes to plan what you’re going to say.

And be specific. When given the chance, talk about why that school is a great match for you. Talk about your exact goals and how you’ll accomplish them via this specific program.


3. Add A Little But Not Too Much

You’ll want to give your application reader some extra information to flesh yourself out as a human being, but you won’t want to throw any curveballs.

Make sure that your answers are consistent with your application, but elaborate on it. Just like how a good hiring manager will ask you to expand on some items on your resume, this video essay gives you the opportunity to provide some context for your application.


4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your answers for friends or co-workers. If you want some practice being in a high pressure situation, get someone to give you a mock interview and tell them to really grill you.

You should get some practice on camera too. Film yourself. Evaluate your background, lighting, and outfit to make sure they look good. Make sure you aren’t saying “umm” and “like...” Take a look at your posture and facial expressions. If you’re not happy with the first take, try another.

Send the video to some people you trust for critique. It’s the best way to find out what kind of judgements someone watching your video essay might make.


5. Relax

You took your GMAT. You got your letters of recommendation. You filled out your entire application and triple checked it. All the hard work is done.

All you have to do with this video essay is be your best self. Remember, the most likable characters on TV and in the movies are the ones that appear most human, the most comfortable in their own skin. Your best performance is going to come from believing in yourself and your application.


This article was written by Michael Sugarman, a senior GRE tutor for MyGuru, a boutique provider of tutoring and test prep. MyGuru has been helping students gain acceptance to top tier business and graduate school programs since 2009.

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