At the 2018 GMAC Annual Conference, the topic of innovation was weaved throughout the keynotes and concurrent sessions, popped up in conversations between colleagues, and was discussed deeply in booklets and brochures at each vendor booth.
Business schools are being challenged to adapt to the changing demands of their applicants seeking the best education as well as by the recruiters who are hungry for talented and skilled graduates.
Among the alluring sessions hosted by thought leaders across the b-school landscape at this year's conference, naturally, I had to attend the session, “Assessing and Implementing Video Essays in the Admissions Process.”
The panel included J.D. Clarke, Executive Director of Recruitment and Admissions at Ivey Business School; Virginie Fougea, Director of MBA Recruiting and Admissions at INSEAD; and Nathalie Naveda, SIM-HSG Manager for Marketing, Recruiting and Admissions at the University of St.Gallen.
While each school is using Kira Talent, it was fascinating to hear the different ways the three schools are enhancing their admissions process with video assessments.
All three panelists shared their experience, beginning with the problems they hoped to solve with video, how they implemented the solution, and what impact they’ve seen so far.
Here’s what we learned:
Ivey Business School MBA
With a growing pool of international applicants, some candidates do not engage in verbal interactions with the school's recruitment and admissions staff. As a result, some candidates were making it to the interview stage that did not have the English language skills to succeed in the interview component.
Enter: The Video Essay
To better evaluate communication skills and personalize the process, Ivey’s graduate business programs added a "video essay" as a mandatory last step in the application before submission.
- Applicants watch an introductory video from their selected program which allows the video essay to double as a branding and marketing opportunity to continue to build excitement about Ivey.
- Next, applicants have an opportunity to test out the technology with five practice questions to help ease any tension or anxieties about the video essay.
- Finally, they respond to a series of randomized behavioral questions that Ivey’s Institute for Leadership helped develop.
Adding the video essay gave Ivey a chance to determine if candidates have the communication skills needed to succeed in the program.
The additional insight helps the school better select which candidates make it to the interview stage. Not only do Ivey’s reviewers get to know the candidate in a different way, Clarke explained that the added context helps the team better prepare for the live interviews with the candidates.
At INSEAD, the MBA program sought out to differentiate their school in the admissions process while still evaluating the skills applicants needed to succeed.
With 79% of INSEAD’s MBA students having learned English as their second language, another measure of verbal English communication skills beyond the TOEFL and GMAT verbal examination was necessary.
Enter: The Video Essay
INSEAD has all applicants complete the video component of the application, regardless of their grades, test scores, experience, or language skills. The school has a randomized pool of video questions and encourages students to take time to prepare, not to worry about misspeaking or being clumsy, and to be themselves.
“It shouldn’t be a stress test. That’s not the idea. We rarely see them in admissions. We [admissions staff] don’t conduct the interviews, our alumni do, so this is our chance to see them,” explained Fougea. “We wanted to understand their motivations, but we discovered much more.”
The overall feedback from the INSEAD careers team and recruiters has been very positive. The MBA team has been able to reassure employers that they are evaluating their applicants for potential in the vital soft skills hiring managers are looking for in MBA graduates.
Fougea also explained that INSEAD has been better able to evaluate more of the “less obvious” or atypical profiles, or the applicants who may have been missed in the past.
“When they come to life on the screen, suddenly you realize time management (how do they use their drive); you can see eye contact; you can see drive,” she added.
Finally, INSEAD was able to remove one written essay question from their application in exchange for the video component.
St.Gallen University SIM-HSG
For St.Gallen SIM, the addition of a video component was part of a larger admissions process redesign.
The school was looking to attract new student segments and increase diversity and create a more attractive and engaging admissions process for prospective students, without overextending their small review team.
“We wanted to make a process that the students wanted to go through,” said Naveda.
Swiss regulations require complete transparency in admissions, so the school also needed any changes to be defensible and transparent for candidates while still gathering authentic responses.
Enter: The Video Interview
All prospective students must complete a series of challenge questions which are designed around the program’s vision, mission, and key attributes the school has selected. Applicants are told up front what criteria they are being evaluated on and can practice freely beforehand.
When selecting their review team, the SIM program was careful to ensure diversity across reviewers, acknowledging the importance of “assuming biases,” and has multiple members of the team assess each candidate.
The SIM program has found several benefits since adding the video interview to their admissions process. The fully branded platform and custom videos serve as marketing tools to build student excitement and has led to increased applicant engagement in the admissions process.
Since reducing the weight of the admissions decision from grades and test scores, the team has seen increases in applicant volume as well as an improved applicant yield rate.
Applicants are actually sharing unsolicited feedback about how they are enjoying the process.
And finally, the SIM program met their class composition objectives to improve diversity and enroll another strong cohort.
Thank you to GMAC for hosting a splended 2018 Annual Conference, and thank you to our partners at St.Gallen, INSEAD, and Ivey for sharing their experiences using video in the admissions process.