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2020-2021 Essays Prompts for MBA Programmes in Europe

2020-2021 Essays Prompts for MBA Programmes in Europe

When it comes to putting together your MBA application for business schools in Europe, one of the most crucial elements is the essay. The MBA essay serves as a way to tie together all your experiences, show the admissions committee who you are beyond your test scores and demonstrate how you are a good fit for their programme. 

MBA programmes in Europe ask questions that are directed at both your career and your personality. They want to know what your plans are for the future while also getting to know how you deal with adversities or setbacks. 

In addition to these long-form essays, some MBA programmes in Europe may also pose short-answer questions in the application form. You will only be able to access these once you create an account and start working on your application. This is why you need to start your applications early so that you have enough time to properly answer these questions. 

Here are the essay prompts of some popular MBA programmes in Europe. Click on each school to find out more about the individual prompts and requirements: 

Business School Number of Essays/Video Essays Word Limit Additional Questions
Cambridge Judge Business School Three  Essay 1, 2 & 3: 200 words A compulsory personal statement & a compulsory reapplicant question
HEC Paris Five Essay 1: 500 words
Essay 2, 3, 4 & 5: 250 words
An optional essay
IESE Business School Two Essay 1 & 2: 300 words An optional essay
INSEAD Three & four video questions Essay 1: 500 words
Essay 2: 400 words
Essay 3: 300 words
Video questions: 60 seconds
Compulsory job description questions & an optional job essay and motivation question
London Business School One

Essay 1: 500 words

An optional essay
Saïd Business School One Essay 1: 250 words A compulsory reapplicant essay

1) Cambridge Judge Business School:

Along with three essay questions, the Cambridge Judge Business School asks applicants to submit a personal statement. As they are looking for motivated and ambitious candidates who have progressed in their career, you should try to highlight these traits and experiences in your essays. 

Essay Prompts: 

Essay 1: “Describe a difficult decision that you had to make. What did you learn from this and how have you changed as a result?

Essay 2: “Describe a time where you worked with a team on a project. What did you learn from the experience and how might you approach it differently today?

Essay 3: “If you could give one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?”

Essay Requirements: 

Since all the three questions have a 200-word limit, be concise and to the point. Essay 3 is the most personal of the three, however, you can use either personal or professional examples for all. Ensure that you use a balanced mix of both.

Personal Statement:  

“Please provide a personal statement. It should address the following questions:

  • What are your short, and long term, career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?
  • What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?
  • If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future?”

Personal Statement Requirements:

The personal statement has a word limit of 500 words and allows you to talk about your career goals in depth. Make sure you include how an MBA from Cambridge Judge Business School will help you develop your skills and future plans. 

Additional Questions:

1. A 200-word reapplicant essay: “Describe any relevant developments since you last applied to the Cambridge MBA?”

2) HEC Paris: 

The MBA essay prompts for HEC Paris are related to your career and personality. These questions aim to give the admissions committee a well-rounded view of you. 

Essay Prompts: 

Essay 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?”

Essay 2: “What do you consider your most significant life achievement?” 

Essay 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.”

Essay 4: “Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be?” 

Essay 5: “Please choose from one of the following essays:

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)”

Essay Requirements: 

Except for Essay 1–which is 500 words–all the other essays have a 250-word limit. The first three essays are quite straightforward, while the last two give you an opportunity to delve deep and get personal. 

Additional Questions:

1. A 900-word optional essay: “Is there any additional information you would like to share with us?”

3) IESE Business School: 

Through the two essay prompts, the IESE Business School wants to know your goals and if you would be the right fit for the programme. 

Essay Prompts:

Essay 1: “If you had to come up with a motto for your life, what would it be and why? Please give an example of how you have demonstrated it.”

Essay 2: “Describe your short and medium-term post-MBA goals? How will the IESE MBA help you achieve them?”

Essay Requirements:

Both essays have a 300-word limit, so ensure that you jump right in and not waste any words. Make sure that you focus on a couple of examples in a clear and concise manner.

Additional Questions:

1. There is also an optional question with a 300-word limit: “What would you like to highlight about yourself or your journey which may have not been captured in your application?”


The INSEAD MBA application form has both short answer questions that relate to your job as well as motivational essays that aim to find out more about you as a person. They want you to go beyond your resume and showcase your personality. 

Motivational Essays Prompts: 

Essay 1: “Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary.”

Essay 2: “Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned.” 

Essay 3: “Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, etc). How are you enriched by these activities?” 

Motivational Essay Requirements:

Essay 1 is the longest, with a 500-word limit. Essay 2 has a 400-word limit, while for Essay 3 you can go up to 300 words. These essays allow you to be creative, personal and most importantly showcase your motivations to the admissions committee. 

Job Description Prompts: 

Question 1: “Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.”

Question 2: “What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company?”

Question 3: “Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.” 

Question 4: “Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD.” 

Job Description Requirements: 

Since these questions are related to your job, your answer should be crisp and to the point. Questions 1 and 2 both have a 200-word limit, while Question 3 has a 300-word limit and Question 4 has a 100-word limit. 

Video Interview Questions:

After you submit your online application, you will receive a link to complete four video questions. These questions vary per applicant so this is really a chance for you to show who you are. 

Video Interview Requirements:

Before you start recording your answers, you will be given a few practice questions to familiarise yourself with the interview process. When you are ready, you will have 45 seconds to think before recording your 60-second answer. 

Additional Questions:

1. There is an optional 300-word Motivational Essay Prompt: “Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee?”

2. There is also an optional Job Description Question: “If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.”

5) London Business School: 

Aimed at people who have gained some work experience, however, are still at the early stages of their careers, the London Business School essay wants you to really think about your future. 

Essay Prompt: 

Essay 1: “What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?”

Essay Requirement: 

London Business School is looking for people who have the “ability to work in multicultural teams and demonstrate an international outlook.” If you have such experiences, you should highlight them in this 500-word essay. 

Additional Questions:

1. London Business School also gives you 500 words to exaplin: “Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?”

6) Saïd Business School: 

The Saïd Business School is looking for candidates who have strong professional experiences, a background in different international environments, have demonstrated leadership, who can contribute to the class and who have a strong academic foundation. As such, when writing your essay, you should try to focus on some of these qualities.

Essay Prompt: 

Essay 1: “Tell us something that is not covered in your application which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you.”

Essay Requirements: 

The Saïd Business School essay has a 250-word limit. When reviewing your essays, the admissions committee will be looking for evidence of “good communication skills, leadership potential, analytical skills, fit with the Oxford MBA community, among other characteristics.”

Additional Questions:

1. Reapplicants will need to submit an additional 250-word essay: “What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA?”

While some of these questions are similar to each other, you should not recycle the same content. Each school is looking for different traits and characteristics, so it is important that you write a new essay, even if you are using the same example. 

Our blog has many resources that can help you make your business school shortlist, a guide on how to apply and even a final checklist to go over before you submit your application. You can also get some interview insights such as how to answer “Can you tell me about yourself?” question and some general interview tips to help you prepare. If you require any further assistance in putting together your application, get in touch with us.

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