Innovation in the Admissions Process – Introducing the “Video Essay”

Niki da SilvaI’m excited to announce that we have officially launched some major changes to the essay section of the Rotman application for 2013! The most significant, is the introduction of a video essay component, an innovative new tool developed by a fantastic start-up firm actually right here at the University of Toronto.  The video essay component will replace our historical third and fourth essay, and will be comprised of two questions.  Both questions are are designed to be answered without any advanced preparation and will allow us to get to know the personality, interests, passions, and talents of our applicants much better than we could in a written essay format. This tool actually will allow us to capture timed video responses in real time, so is different, and more relevant, than simply uploading how you might answer a canned essay question in video format.

The video essay is being run as a pilot project this year.  We are very interested in learning what the tool demonstrates about our candidates and by introducing this new component at Rotman we are hoping to take a big leap away from the essay writing contest that has become the norm in the MBA admissions world, and actually use our essays to showcase what it is that makes candidates unique. In theory, essays are designed to demonstrate the unique traits and abilities of applicants, who may, on paper, appear to be quite similar.  Unfortunately, with the proliferation of online message board and admissions consultants who try to convince applicants that there is a ‘right’ answer to these questions, submissions often sound very similar and instead of showcasing what makes a candidate an interesting and diverse prospective student, we often read similar stories about motivation to pursue the MBA.  On the same note, the video essay in not an introduction of a video creation contest – we are interested in the content of your answers and not how well you can produce videos.

We already do video interviews for international applicants who we weren’t able to connect with in person with during our travels via Skype, so understand video is a comfortable medium for most of our candidates who frequently use video chat, Skype, face time, etc. to communicate with family and friends.

Ultimately, our goal in introducing this new component is for our admissions committee to make better decisions about which candidates are the strongest match with the Rotman program.  There are a few reasons I believe this will happen, and I imagine we will uncover many more reasons as we evaluate the program:

  • We want to consider candidates who may not present as strongly as they could ‘on paper’ (at least not yet – we know that our talented Careers team can help with this!) as identifying the ‘diamond in the rough’ type of talent is a group of students we don’t want our Admissions Committee to miss as we continue to grow the Program and see a bigger applicant pool each year
  • This will provide us with an additional reference point beyond our current list of application requirements that tests communication skills (i.e. ability to think on your feet, communicate in a concise manner, etc.) along with demonstrates a diverse or well-rounded profile which is something we can’t begin evaluating until interviews at the moment and it is a key priority in order to build an interesting and diverse MBA class
  • The video content can be stored, allowing the entire Admissions Committee to access and review this content when making admissions decisions instead of having only one ‘in person’ perspective on a candidate so we will get a broader opinion on each applicant

I was interviewed recently by Kira, the firm who developed this tool and shared some overall thoughts on why we love the product here:

This video essay belongs where the title suggests – as a media-rich version of a ‘live’ essay question.  This will not replace admissions interviews, as the depth of conversation and direct personal interaction is a truly invaluable part of the process.

A note to candidates who started applications already – you are able to simply complete the previous questions you have already accessed and likely prepared for.  There is no penalty, and no preference, if this is the case.  Otherwise, you can start a new profile and submit the video essay, along with the two shorter essay questions if you prefer.  For any questions on this, please follow up with us at  Remember to be yourself, and have fun with this new feature.Good luck and happy filming! We look forward to your feedback on this new tool.

44 thoughts on “Innovation in the Admissions Process – Introducing the “Video Essay”

  1. I\’ve submitted the video essay through Kira. But the essay tab in applications does not allow the page to be marked as complete unless something is written in the space provided for the video essay. But in my understanding, nothing needs to written for this essay prompt. In order to mark the page as complete, I\’m simply writing \”Video Essay Submitted.\”.
    I would request the website managers for the applications process to kindly make note of this and rectify the problem or at-least add instructions as to what should be written in the space for video essay to avoid confusion.

    Thank you.

    Kind Regards
    Varun Arora

  2. Thanks Varun – and yes, you have completed the process correctly. We will forward your feedback on to our technical team to help clarify for future candidates.

    Best of luck with the process!

  3. No-this isn’t required for Morning/Evening – just the FT MBA. Your best bet is to contact Rummmy Gill ( re: the Morning/Evening application.

  4. Dear Niki
    I was just curious to know when the new essay topics will be out and when is the application window starting for the 2014 MBA program?.
    Pulkit Agarwalla

  5. Hello Niki,

    Unfortunately, candidates in China like me cannot access to youtube. So I am not able to watch your interview video by Kira. But I like the video essay idea. Could you please let me know where I can find the directions about how to use and process video essay by Kira. Is a website video tool or something? Thanks.

  6. Hi Nikki,
    Can you let us know more about video essay.

    Is it only one question this year?
    What are the question(s) related to.
    How long do we have talk.
    Do we have a second shot at answering, if we think we weren’t at our best.


  7. Hi Nikki,
    Can you please shed more light on video essay.
    Is it going to be only one video essay for 2014 fall.
    please let us know regarding what the questions are going to be.

    • Hi Keerthi,

      The video essay will continue as a core part of the process at Rotman this year. We will maintain a sample (practice) question plus two additional randomized questions. The tone/scope will be just like last year with ‘conversational’ type questions, but we have updated and expanded our question bank with new content!


  8. Hey,

    My skype id is sumeet.bhalla14.
    And i am waiting for an interview.?
    I am a little unsure of what the procedure will be..?

    Will i be given an appointment on skype for it or do i have to record them on youtube?

    • Hi Sumeet,

      The Video content should be posted in the next week – apologies for the delay, you are well ahead of us and our November 4th deadline! This will happen via an email invite, so please stay tuned 🙂


  9. Hi Niki,

    I am trying to complete the MBA Application for Rotman but I cannot find any Video Essay Link to record my Video Essay.

    Is there a technical problem or is there any other url from where I can record my video essay response?

    Please help.

    Prashant Banerjee

  10. I didnt find any essay topics for video essay for fall 2014 intake in the application page.
    Neither is the application process information any clear about the steps necessary for submission of such video essays.Could you please post the video essay topics and the guidelines for the video essays on the application website.

  11. Hi,
    I have intentions to study MBA in Toronto university in 2015, meanwhile i’d like to start working on the admissions from this year. Can you help me with the processes involved and who to contact at any point when i need help?

  12. Hi
    I have visited School website and it mentions No minimum requirement for the GMAT but at the same time I can see the average GMAT is 673 which is quite high. My question is : my work ex is now 7 years and if I apply for 2014 session admission lets say in Jan 2014 deadline then I would be more than 7 years of work ex ..So do you have any relaxations/considerations in GMAT score for the candidate who is having more work ex. like case of mine ..or Do I have to get weigh myself with the person who is having 3-4 years of work ex ?


    • Thanks for the question. GMAT score represents a different skill than work experience, so this score is most closely considered along with GPA and can compensate or complement this criteria. Our average GMAT is competitive but range is quite varied (550-780) so I would encourage you to focus on submitting a GMAT score within this range to meet a competitive requirement based on previously admitted candidates profiles. Hope this helps to clarify.

  13. Hi
    Can you provide more details on how Rotman encourages entrepreneurship culture ?
    I have 4 years of consulting background with one of Big4 consulting firms. I want to understand and develop necessary skills to start my own startup. Can you please share some information on that regards?


    • We can provide you with plenty of detail around entrepreneurship at Rotman – starting with information about our Creative Destruction Lab! This a packed question so I would like to ensure it is handled appropriately – can you send to the admissions inbox ( to be connected with someone from the team who can take this conversation offline and provide you with more depth? Thanks!

  14. Hi, Niki,
    I want to apply for the MBA program of Toronto University, and on the website, it says”e recommend candidates have at least two years of work experience but there is no minimum requirement. The average for the class entering in 2013 was four years of work experience.” I have prior undergraduate degree work experience and post undergraduate degree for 2 months, but in total less than two years. What is the chance of me getting accepted into the MBA program?
    Thank you,
    Jiaqi Feng

    • Hi Jiaqi – Thanks for this question. Admissions decisions are based on the overall competitiveness of your profile, so it is simply not possible to determine your admission probability based on one data point (work experience). You will want to apply when, from an experience perspective, you are confident that you have enough to contribute to the Program, and also have the requisite transferrable skills to be competitive recruiting into your post-MBA role of choice. Hope this feedback is helpful. Best of luck!

  15. Dear Officer,

    I am a Chinese Student who want to apply for the 2014Fall MBA Program, But I really did not understand how I can complete the Video Essay, I am confused about it, because in my online application from, there is a step that need to provide the Video Interview information including Video Interview URL, or I can not complete my online application form. So please guide me the step in details that to complete the Video. I do not know how to use this website to complete it, Waiting for your kindly reply!!

    Thank you very much!!

    • Hi Tang! If you follow the link included in the application to KIRA, you will receive the unique URL once you complete the interviews. Hope this helps and good luck!

  16. Hi Nikki,

    I’m experiencing some confusion in terms of the “Video Essay” and “Video Interview”. Could you kindly confirm whether they are interchangeable terms? (I.E the interview to be completed on the KIRA website)

    In regards to the actual video interview questions, are they given to us prior to the recording?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Hello Mandy,

      Apologies for the confusion! “Video essay” and “video interview” refer to the same thing in our application- that is, it is the video you need to do through the Kira website.

      The essay questions are given as soon as the recording begins. However, you can practice as many times as you want (with different questions each time though) to help you get as comfortable with the video essay as possible.

  17. Dear Niki,

    I am preparing to apply for 2015 fall FT MBA class. However, i have two pressing issues.
    1. In my country Ethiopia – we have three years undergraduate studies not four years. ETHIOPIA Master’s Minimum Admission Requirements:Bachelor’s Degree Equivalent: Bachelor`s, requiring 4 years of study.What does it mean for application? Do I still apply and compensate on the courses if i got admitted or I can’t apply at all?
    2. I am planning to come to Canada early October – is there any possibility of visiting Rotman?
    Your kind support on this is greatly appreciated!

    Best regards,

    • Hello Maeza,

      Answers to your questions:
      1. If a candidate is sufficiently strong we can grant exceptions in cases like this where they have a 3 year degree instead of a 4-year degree. So I would definitely still encourage you to apply. Just make sure the rest of your application is as strong as possible.
      2. We will actually be hosting our Open House in mid-October which would be a great opportunity to see the school and sit in on sample classes, meet current students, alumni, etc. Stay tuned to our admissions events calendar for full details:
      If you can’t make it for the Open House though, email us at and we can schedule a time to meet us!

  18. I am Venkatesh from India.
    I have attended the admission event conducted by your school in India.
    I am very much interested to do FULL TIME MBA, 2015 in your school.
    I finished my BE degree in 2012 with a CGPA of 7.76. I have 8 months work experience as a Software Engineer. I am running an E-commerce business in India for the past one and half year.
    I am planning to write GMAT in one month.
    Am I elegible to get into Rotman School of Management??????

  19. Dear Niki,

    Request your help on the video interview question – does the link on Rotman’s application form for the video essay allow me to practice to prepare for answering these questions. If yes, will i need to finish the practice sessions and the real test in one seating?

    Many thanks for your help in advance – and regards,
    Gopal Agarwal.

    • Hi Gopal – yes you need to finish in one setting. One practice question and two ‘real’ questions. Best advice is to record yourself first on your own webcam before going to the live site. Good luck!

  20. Dear,
    I already had a MBA degree in my home country, but plan to apply for MBA of Rotman, aim to learn with worldwide famous professors and understand more about the global business management. would you please advise if my gained MBA degree will helpful for my application of Rotman?
    Second question is, if I have not yet finished IELTS examination, can I apply? And if I cannot get 7.0, is there any langue course in U of T for international student?


    • You’ll need to think about how to position this as the Committee will want to understand the desire to pursue another MBA – ultimately the answer to this question will depend on your reasoning. We do require a language test to be completed, but more importantly our Program is an intensive experience so we encourage applicants to target Rotman if they are confident in their English fluency. The language requirement is simply a signal about the importance of communication skills to ensure that our students can actively contribute to the Rotman experience.

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