How to Tackle Kellogg’s Video Essays

With Kellogg’s Round 1 deadline quickly approaching, our admissions consulting clients have been asking how best to prepare for and tackle Kellogg’s video essays.

For context, let’s think about what Kellogg is trying to learn about you from this portion of the application. Since the school leverages alumni (like myself!) to conduct the vast majority of their interviews, the video essays might be the only time the admissions committee gets to see your smiling face and hear you put your thoughts into spoken words. As such, it is the perfect vehicle to showcase your personable, engaging self.

Kellogg has provided two of the three questions you will be asked and outlines the topic of the third prompt. Knowing the questions in advance is a blessing and a curse. It certainly defrays some anxiety about not being able to come up with a good answer. However, being able to prepare and practice your answers makes it more difficult to come off as natural (please don’t read from a sheet of paper!) and likely ups the overall quality of responses (i.e., the competition is fiercer).

For reference, this year’s questions are:

  1. Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
  2. What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
  3. *NEW* This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Timing is Key

Once the clock starts ticking, you will have 60 seconds to answer each one. My first word of advice is to focus the bulk of your practice on getting the timing right – a minute is shorter than you think! I’ve practiced live with countless clients over the years and most of them initially get cutoff mid-thought. Once you’ve bulleted out your responses, practice saying them (out loud!) with a timer running. Then do it again.

Content Should be Complementary, not Repetitive

My next word of advice is on content. The admissions committee will have just read your written essays, so don’t overtly repeat them. The video essays are an opportunity to build on what you’ve included in the rest of your application.

It is also an opportunity to showcase your personality – as such, have a little fun with these, especially the first question. Perhaps throw in a hobby you love or mention your family, pets, spouse, etc. The second question is fairly cut and dry; this is content you should have down pat at this point.  

Since you don’t know the exact prompt for the last question, prepare a few (2-3) brief stories that might fit. Last year this question was revealed in advance and focused on how applicants had responded to the upheaval of 2020 – something topical like this is certainly still appropriate so don’t limit your stories to standard work challenges, etc. The key with your answer here is authenticity – truly reflect on what each challenge has taught you and how you have put these learnings into practice since.

Delivery is the Icing on the Cake (the Best Part, Right?)

Lastly, put thought and practice behind your delivery. This is what separates good video essays from great ones. Look directly at your webcam, speak slowly and clearly (a computer mic can sound muffled!), and – most importantly – smile! In my experience, mindset is everything here. Put on the shirt or dress that makes you feel like a million bucks, imagine there is a warm, receptive face on the computer screen and talk directly to it. As I said earlier, this is likely the admissions committee’s only chance to see you ‘live’, so make the most of it.

With a little practice, you’ll do great. Video essays tend to stress applicants out more than they need to. This might be easy for me to say from my seat at the table but view them as an opportunity more than a hurdle!

As always, we’re here to help, including with hourly advice on things such as interview skills and waitlist strategy. We are also accepting clients for Round 2! Click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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