MIM Applications: 7 Common Errors Candidates Can Avoid

Nancy Blyth Piacentini

After many years in student recruiting, I see the same errors, year after year. Here is a shortlist to help you avoid making these same mistakes in your application. 

1. Boring generic objectives: If I have read it once, I have read it a thousand times, the standardised objectives that you can find in three seconds on Google that you should never put on your CV or your cover letter: “To excel in my chosen field in a job that both challenges and inspires me, while pushing me to work to the best of my abilities and produce the highest quality work that I am capable of...” 

The objective should help us identify a good programme fit so ask yourself these three questions: 

  • What are my career goals?
  • how will the programme help me to achieve them?
  • Where do I want to start out (geographical locations)

2. Copy and Paste: right essay, wrong school! Every year I read a student telling me just how much Harvard is their dream school…. This would be great if they were indeed writing to Harvard and not to INSEAD! 

It’s totally OK to apply to more than one school. In fact, I highly suggest having a backup plan or two, but be careful when you copy and paste your essays to indicate the correct school name! I can just imagine the face of the recruiting officer at Harvard when he reads how much the student dreamed of studying at… INSEAD!

3. The never-ending CV: It’s not a book or an autobiography. Your CV is your shop window, don’t try to put everything in your “shop” in that window, it won’t fit. Put the most outstanding things, use bullet points to highlight relevant information! Keep it crisp and clear and ONE page, exactly the way you would want a CV to be if you were the one that had to read hundreds and hundreds of them!

When applying to pre-experience programmes, start with your education, not with your work experience.

4. Poor references: Don’t risk getting a disappointing recommendation or, even worse, a flat refusal. Consult the person you have in mind, ask them if they would be able to give you a strong reference, and brief them on the fact that it really does count A LOT for the selection process.

Avoid people that just don’t know you well enough, even if they are the star professor of your school, or the CEO of the firm you did your internship in, because those people cannot be convincing or positive about you if they hardly know you! And please, don’t wait until the last minute! 

Missing the deadline for a late reference is bad project management.

5. Photos you should never use: From the beach party, the club, holidays... We ask you for a photo to be able to identify you in your interview. We expect a passport format size and office attire, not a full-length modelling shoot, not a picture your friend posted on your Facebook wall, and not a photo of you and your girlfriend…or you and your cat… just you with a look on your face that says "I look forward to joining your programme"!

6. Telling lies: Recruiters and professors share the same superpower: the ability to immediately spot a lie on an application at a simple glance. You are judged on your integrity so don’t lie about your interests, don’t cheat on your GPA, and avoid inventing internships and activities that have never existed. Chances are we will ask you to explain anything we have a doubt on in detail during your interview… in great detail.

7. Right School, wrong deadline: When applying to your top two or three choice schools, don’t get your deadlines mixed up. Sending us an email to implore our indulgence because you missed our deadline is not a great way to convince us you will be a stellar student at our institution.

Make a list, check it twice… and submit on time!

I hope you find these tips helpful and don’t forget to check your spelling before you submit! And remember when in doubt… reach out! That’s what we are there for! For questions on your INSEAD MIM application, contact us directly here