The INSEAD MBA application requires two recommendations. The applicant’s recommendation should be from your current and previous direct supervisors. The letter should reflect your capacities in the work environment. If candidates are unable to provide a letter from supervisors, an alternative source for a recommendation such as an indirect manager, a client, a member of the board of directors, or any other individual who supervises your work is acceptable.

Recommendation from an extra-curricular activity such as volunteer organizations can also be considered. In general, choose a recommender who can honestly and accurately reflect on your traits and characteristics as a person.

Choose individuals who know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last two-three years, will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions, and are sufficiently enthused to spend time writing a thoughtful letter.

Section 1: Recommender Information

After some personal identifying information, the form proceeds to inquire about the recommender’s relationship to the applicant.

Please, specify your relationship to candidate:

  • Professional
  • Educational
  • Personal

How long have you known the candidate? Define your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met.

Recommenders should briefly describe their frequency and form of interaction with you and your role in their organization or team.

Section 2: Candidate Rating

In this section, you will find 12 competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership. The competencies and character traits are grouped into five categories:

  • Achievement
  • Influence
  • People
  • Personal Qualities
  • Cognitive Abilities

It is important here to show some variability in your ratings. It shows the recommender knows the candidates from day to day interaction and can accurately reflect on their future potential within and after admission to a business program. No candidate is perfect.

An « Average » should be used to reflect your main area(s) of growth. A « Below average » will stand out as negative to the application committee. It would be quite damaging for a candidate to get low assessment criteria on more than one of the traits of the 12 criteria, as it would reflect a larger issue regarding the candidate's abilities and potential.

How do you rate the candidate on the following criteria? (Using the following scale: Outstanding (top 2%), Very Good (top 10%), Above Average (top 25%), Average (top 50%), Below Average (bottom 50%), Unobserved)

  • Competence in his/her field
  • Professionalism
  • Focus on the task at hand
  • Readiness to use opportunities for achievement
  • Creativity and resourcefulness
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Energy and drive
  • Personal integrity
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Organizational ability
  • Oral communication skills
  • Written communication skills

How do you rate the candidate’s potential for becoming a responsible and successful manager in international business compared with other students or employees whom you have known in a similar capacity?

  • Excellent (top 2%)
  • Very good (top 10%)
  • Above average (top 25%)
  • Average (top 50%)
  • Below average (bottom 50%)

Section 3: Recommender Questions

The INSEAD letters of recommendations is a short assessment that explains how the writer knows you, what it’s been like working with you, and how they think you’ll fit in to the MBA program you’re applying for. It is important that your recommenders provide a recommendation on why you’re a good fit for the INSEAD MBA.

It is important for the recommender to provide specific, accurate information about your abilities and working style. The admissions committee doesn’t simply want another run-down of the information they already have in your resume. Your recommender should advocate for you, not just state the facts. For example, your supervisor might say that you’re the best sales manager they’ve ever had, and back that up with some of your sales numbers. Or, your recommender might share a story of how you went above and beyond to help them make up for lost time when they were out sick or had a family emergency. It is perfectly fine for your letter of recommendation to be emotional and come from the heart, so long as the letter includes evidence and not just generic platitudes.

How can you ensure that your recommender writes the best letter possible for INSEAD? First, give them plenty of notice and ask at least two-three weeks in advance. Second, make sure that they’re up-to-date on your intended career path. You should give them a copy of your resume and your INSEAD essays so that their recommendations are in line with the program you are pursuing and the goals you have set out.