Stay on top of the latest

Advice, tips and insights from the
admissions dream team.

Table of Contents

Texas McCombs MBA Essays: Tips & Strategy

Austin Texas

To offer a more inclusive and accessible application process, The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin continues to shift away from traditional written essays.

After introducing a required required video assessment in the 2022–23 cycle, McCombs has reduced the video questions from seven to five. McCombs has also  replaced its required essay with a cover letter. The videos replace interviews, although McCombs also invites applicants to participate in a short, optional peer interview with a current Full-Time MBA student.

The school introduced the video interview l as a more accessible, personal alternative to more traditional essays and an interview. The video is designed to reduce bias in the admissions process by providing all applicants with a structured and consistent assessment experience. It helps the admissions committee experience the “real you,” beyond a resume, test scores, and transcripts, while applicants can share their story in their own voice.

Consider the new video assessment as an opportunity to showcase your personality and character, in addition to your verbal and presentation skills. As Fortuna Director Caroline Diarte Edwards says in her related article on how to prepare for the MBA video essays, “The MBA admissions committee wants a peek into who you are in an unscripted way – your motivations, your personality, your communication style. They want to know how you think on your feet (a vital skill in the MBA classroom).”

Read on for insights on what McCombs is looking for in its interview, and how you can best maximize your chances of admissions success.

The Video Assessment

After you submit your application and pay your fee, you will receive a link to complete the video assessment online. All candidates will respond to a total of five questions, and you’ll have seven days from receiving the invitation to complete the videos.

First comes a fun, get-to-know-you question that the admissions committee will not score. Then you will record a response to four questions, with a 90-second time limit for each question. You can practice as many times as you wish before completing the final video assessment. You’ll have up to 30 seconds to think, then up to 90 seconds to respond to each question.

McCombs advises you to prepare for these videos much like you would for an interview. Be prepared to answer behavioral-based questions steeped in competencies that McCombs views as central to success in business school and beyond. These top three are:

  • Adaptability/Resilience
  • Empathy/Inclusivity
  • Ambition

The Admissions Committee is also looking for evidence of motivation, career goals, well-roundedness, verbal communications skills, poise and professionalism.

An example behavioral question is: “Tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work and how you influenced the outcome.” With behavioral style questions, you can expect prompts on very specific examples of what you did – along with why, what was going through your mind at the time, the impact on others, and the outcome. With only 90 seconds to work with, it’s essential to make your answers clear and concise.

It’s also smart to anticipate questions rooted in the characteristics McCombs cares about. Some possible questions that might map to the McCombs stated values include:

  • Human-Centered: Tell us about a time when you helped to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Future Focused: Tell us about a time you’ve used technology to be more effective.
  • Innovator Connected: Tell us about a time you gained buy-in from others on a new idea.
  • Collaboratively Minded: Tell us about a time when you dealt with someone who was difficult. How did you handle that situation?

Finally, as you prepare, think about how to convey what’s not obvious in your resume, credentials, or LinkedIn profile. What will help make your application memorable, adding to your overall narrative? Reflect on the stories you want to tell and offer dimensions that might be missing from elsewhere in your application.

Optional Peer Interview

In keeping with its “Human-Centered, Future-Focused” culture, McCombs invites all MBA applicants to complete their application process in a human-centered way with a short, optional peer interview with a current student.

We encourage you to sign up for this interview. They are brief — usually 30 minutes or less with  just two or three questions, followed by an opportunity for you to ask questions from the real experts: the students going through the real MBA experience right now. These interviews let you connect with potential classmates, and add another positive, personal  impression of the “real you”  that can cap off a winning application.

Let’s Get You In.

Fortuna Admissions is a dream team of former MBA Admissions Directors and Officers from 18 of the top 20 business schools, including Texas McCombs. With our unparalleled collective expertise, we are able to coach you to develop a clear vision of your goals for business school and beyond. We work closely with you throughout the application process and provide expert guidance at every stage to maximize your chances of admission to a top school.

Our free consultations are consistently rated as the best in the industry. To learn more about Fortuna and assess your chances of admission to Wharton and other top programs, request a free consultation.

Want More Advice? 

For a deeper dive on how to shine in your MBA video assessment, including tips for preparing and sample questions, view MBA Video Essay Tips, by Fortuna’s Caroline Diarte Edwards.

Updated September 2023

Fortuna’s Sharon Joyce is an MBA Admissions Coach and former Berkeley Haas Associate Director of Admissions. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.

Share this article on social media

Sign up now for a free 30-minute discovery session to get personalized feedback on your profile and learn how Fortuna can help you secure admission to your dream school!

Free Consultation