Kellogg MBA Video Essays & How to Tackle the New Question

September 09, 2020 | by William Kotas

Kellogg asks each applicant to complete a video essay component after submitting its MBA application. This year – for the first time – the school gives you all three questions upfront.

Before now, the third question was previously a random interview-type behavioral question focused on a challenging moment in your personal or professional life (so each candidate received a different question). However, Kellogg has replaced question 3 of its video essays with a prompt that names momentous events of this year and pointedly asks how you’ve responded.

The good news is you’re no longer fielding an unknown question and have time to prepare for all three. The bad news is that this new question is a doozy. Your challenge – and opportunity – is to respond in a way that’s concise, meaningful and introspective.

How to Tackle the Video Essay Questions

The first video question asks you to ‘introduce yourself to the admissions committee’ in the spirit of what you’ll bring to future classmates and ‘what makes you, you?’. The second drives at your career goals and ‘why Kellogg.’ The new third question, which speaks to your leadership potential, is asking for considerable introspection and sincerity:

“2020 has been a year of seismic disruption — fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic, tragic deaths that have brought systemic racism and social justice issues to the forefront of long overdue conversations, and economic and political divides that are growing deeper and deeper. How has this unprecedented year challenged you and how have you faced that challenge?”

Consider the video essays a huge opportunity to showcase your personality and character. Remember that Kellogg wants to learn something new about you (meaning, prepare some fresh material and don’t regurgitate examples from your written essays.)

As you prepare, imagine how to convey what’s not obvious in your resume, credentials or LinkedIn profile. What will help make your application sticky and memorable? Again, reflect on the story you want to tell and offer a dimension that might be missing.

Play with ways to take advantage of the medium itself in your storytelling. Among my favorite efforts at a ‘introduce yourself’ video response was from a candidate who gave a brief viola performance, then used an element of the instrument itself as a metaphor to convey his personality and interpersonal style.

As you reflect on possible responses to the new third question, consider: What meaning can be discerned from your story and what does it say about you and who you are as a leader? How might the qualities that are most important to Kellogg be reflected in your response? Considered self-reflection is the key to delivering something that’s both meaningful and distinctive. As you do, keep your audience in mind – this is a business school essay after all, and your words are directed to the MBA admissions committee.

5 Top Video Essay Tips:

1. Plan your answers.
Jot down a few bullets or talking points or outline a quick structure, e.g., main answer and supporting examples. But avoid overly scripting – you want to appear fluid and natural on camera.

2. Stand for more energy.

3. Record yourself when you practice.
What type of impression are you giving off? Are you friendly and approachable? Would others feel comfortable working with you?

4. Don’t forget to smile.
When you enjoy yourself, it shines through and makes a connection with the viewer (you’re on camera, after all).

5. Visualize success.
Ask yourself, if the person reviewing my video essay takes nothing else, what is the number one thing I want them to remember about me?

Kellogg takes great pride in identifying candidates who have really self-reflected on what they want, how Kellogg will get them there and how their aspirations support a broader vision for having a positive impact. Nearly every aspect of the Kellogg application has some component geared toward discerning if a candidate is the right fit.

video essay tips

How to Tackle the Written Essays 

For advice on how to tackle the written essays, view our related post: Kellogg MBA Essays: Strategy & Tips. You can also view our MBA Admissions Essay Masterclass featuring Kellogg along with MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth & Columbia.

You can also view other MBA Essay Masterclasses in our series on Fortuna’s YouTube channel.

William Kotas is an MBA admissions consultant at Fortuna Admissions, as well as a former Kellogg Director and Kellogg MBA Alum. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.

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