How to Prepare for the Kellogg Video Essay

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: October 15, 2019)

Video interviews are here to stay at Kellogg

Kellogg confirmed last summer that they would once again be asking MBA applicants to go through the video interview questions for the school’s MBA Class of 2017 application. The “video essays” were introduced last year by both Kellogg and Yale SOM (we also analyzed the Yale video essay at length as part of our Analyzing the Applications series). Video interviews help schools compare applicants more directly, as the admissions committee is not only able to watch every applicant’s video (as opposed to seeing just the handful that they interview) but they are also able to juxtapose applicants’ answers directly.

At the same time, the new video essay format induced a lot of anxiety among applicants. However, we do not think there is much cause to be anxious. If you are about to go through the video interview process, we suggest that you read our list of preparation tips in order to increase your odds of making a positive impression on the adcom.

Key changes this year: less time to prepare, only one attempt to make an impression

For starters, Kellogg allows applicants 20 seconds to collect their thoughts before the recording begins. Even though this is much less than last year (applicants had more than a full minute to prepare then), it is still ample time to think about. In addition, applicants are offered to practice as much as they with a list of 10 practice questions, which should give everyone a chance to become familiar with the the format and technology. According to the school, “the practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool and help applicants feel prepared”.

Last year, applicants could sleep over their first recording and perform a new attempt in a separate session. The process therefore was quite forgiving, and was not meant to generate stress at all. Unfortunately, it seems that this will no longer be the case this year, so we recommend to practice extensively prior to answering the actual application question. Even worse, while last year applicants were given three attempts to record their answer, this year the school is stating that “there is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions. We encourage applicants to practice so they are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions“. This is quite a significant change.

Kellogg video interview questions are mostly personal

The questions for Kellogg’s video interview should be personal in nature, so applicants don’t need to worry about solving a tough math problem or answering a business question. The admissions committee says this is so they can get to know the applicants better — a sign they’ll ask about your extracurricular activities, passions, and priorities. This is something you can anticipate and prepare for, brainstorming a handful of anecdotes about who you are, what you like to do, and the things that make you tick. Having these stories at the front of mind (you shouldn’t be using notes for the video question!) is important; our advice to “show, don’t tell” applies to video questions and interviews as much as it does to essays. We have gathered a few example questions that were asked to candidates who went through the video essay last year. As you can see below, these questions were pretty straight forward, and there weren’t any curve balls:

Sample Kellogg Video Essay Questions (actual questions reported by past applicants).

  1. Why are you applying to Kellogg? (every applicant should prepare for this question)
  2. What makes you a great fit for Kellogg?
  3. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try? 
  4. What is one piece of technology you can’t live without? 
  5. What is the most interesting course you took as a student?
  6. If you could meet anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?
  7. What is your most treasured possession and why?
  8. What inspires you?
  9. Why did you choose your college major?
  10. What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
  11. If you could teach a class on any subject, what would it be and why?
  12. What is one interesting thing about you that you would want you future Kellogg classmates to know?

We also want to credit UCLA MBA student Piyush Jain for posting this quite comprehensive list of questions on his blog (we have removed duplicates from this list):

  1. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
  2. What word describes you best and why?
  3. Tell us about the first job you ever had?
  4. What’s the best book you have ever read and why?
  5. When you have a problem, whom do you approach for advice and why?
  6. What accomplishment are you really proud of?
  7. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
  8. If you could witness any event..past present or future-what would it be?
  9. Tell us about an organization or activity in which you have dedicated significant time. Why was it meaningful to you?
  10. What have anyone done good for you and how did you felt about it?
  11. Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve traveled to. What did you enjoy most about it.
  12. What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
  13. If money was not a concern. what would you do?
  14. What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life?
  15. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  16. What food do you like? Will you be able to eat that food everyday?
  17. How have you changed in the last 5 years?
  18. Whom do you respect most, and why?
  19. What is your favorite motto or quote, and why
  20. What risk have you taken and what did you learn?
  21. What impact do you have on your co-workers?

In a supporting video (posted below) Kate Smith, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, reiterated that the purpose of this video essay was for the adcom to “get to know you”, and insisted that there wee no right or wrong answers.

The easiest way to let this new video question hurt your application is therefore to allow it to become a bigger focus than it deserves to be. It is a small, supplemental piece of the puzzle, and it will rarely elevate a mediocre candidate from ding to admit. More often than not, you should only expect this video question to ding a few candidates that come across as remarkably obnoxious, self-absorbed, or disconnected from reality in another way.

So, to ace this part of the Kellogg interview, keep it in perspective. Be yourself, of course, prepare a handful a good stories, practice answering potential prompts a few times, and dress the way you would for an actual interview. 

Don’t forget to stay tuned to this space as we analyze Kellogg’s essay questions and the rest of the schools application!

Get ready: professional video essay preparation service is now available

Feeling that you are ready to apply to Kellogg and need help preparing for the video essay? MBA Admissions Advisors just launched a new service to specifically help Kellogg applicants prepare for their video essay. We’ll put you under similar conditions as the actual admissions video interview, and will provide you with personalized feedback and recommendations. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more about this service.

Finally, why not try our MBA matching algorithm and get an assessment of your profile within a couple of minutes? Or feel free to reach out to us to request a free consultation. We’d love to help.


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