Over the past year, we worked with 4 mentees with very different profiles, all of whom received an admit to the HEC Paris MBA program (2025 graduating batch): one in the Sep ‘23 intake and three in the Jan ‘24 intake. 3 of them also received the HEC Excellence Scholarship, with one receiving the Forté Scholarship for Women as well.
Besides celebrating their success, which is well deserved, this post aims to answer 3 main questions:
- Is there a typical or “template” profile for the HEC Paris MBA?
- Does a low GMAT/ GRE score necessarily lead to a rejection?
- Does a reapplication within a year necessarily lead to a rejection again?
The short answer to all the three questions is “No”.
As you would learn from the following debriefs, there is no one template profile that HEC expects. While good academic grades, GMAT/ GRE, strong work-ex and balanced ExtraCurriculars strengthen your chances, each person is unique.
HEC’s 6 essays (including Optional Essay, excluding Scholarship Essays) provide you the opportunity to present a holistic version of your profile that is beyond your CV and scores.
Read on to learn more about the profiles of 4 candidates and how we helped them land their HEC Paris admits.
All insights (profile, context, takeaways) are provided by admitStreet, and quotes/ testimonials are from the candidate.
Pranjal: Marketing Maverick with a 650 GMAT score
Profile: A marketing professional with ~5 years of experience in organizations like Flipkart and Zydus in India, and a Master’s in Marketing and Business Management from SDA Bocconi (Mumbai Campus).
Context: With a GMAT score of 650, and applying towards the last rounds for the January intake, Pranjal approached me around a week prior to the deadline.
While we normally don’t work candidates on such short notice, we made an exception as we saw her genuine interest in HEC. She had researched about the program, spoken to alumni and AdCom, and was clear in her motivations towards how HEC is the right program to help achieve her career goals.
Package: Application (Essays) Package
How admitStreet helped: Despite our limited time, we followed a clear action plan with deadlines, covering brainstorming sessions and feedback on multiple essay iterations.
The goal was to bring out the strengths in Pranjal’s profile e.g. marketing know-how, experiences working with start-ups, international exposure through an exchange program and personal trips; while acknowledging the challenges e.g. lower than average GMAT score, second Masters, applying towards the later application stage.
Result: HEC Paris MBA Admit with HEC Excellence & Forté Scholarships
- Believe in your capabilities and achievements. We submitted Pranjal’s application in the last round for internationals. Contrary to the misconception that later rounds may not yield scholarships, Pranjal’s success shows that strategic planning and a compelling narrative can lead to success even in the later application rounds (though this is not advisable if you have the option to apply early, ofcourse).
- It’s important to present a holistic profile. Beyond academic and professional accomplishments, aim to delve into personal growth and community contributions.
- For the interviews, prepare well, showcase your genuine passion, and clearly articulate your unique value to the HEC MBA cohort
Pranjal: “Working with Arvind not only helped me understand the specific nuances of HEC and the application process, but also strategize on how best to position myself.
He helped me address instances where my answers didn’t align with the question, offering actionable feedback. Arvind’s insights, personalized guidance, and unwavering support, especially during the eleventh hour, played a crucial role in the success of my HEC Paris MBA application, despite a low GMAT score (650). I was elated when I also received the HEC Excellence and Forte Scholarships!”
Sujeet: Reapplicant with job switches and a big-4 consulting stint
Profile: With several years of experience across technology and tech consulting including in a big-4 firm, Sujeet had applied to the HEC program for the previous intake (working with another consultant) and was rejected without interviews.
Context: Sujeet’s profile presented some key strengths: the big-4 brand, his start-up experience (though it didn’t turn into a successful venture) and a good GRE score (330) were strengths. However, there were multiple job switches and his application was rejected during the previous intake.
Package: Application (Essays) & Mock Interview Package
How admitStreet helped: We worked on the re-application from scratch i.e. all essays including the Optional and Scholarship Essays, by identifying unique anecdotes and structuring them in the most impactful way. In the Re-applicant essay, we highlighted the key reasons justifying why Sujeet’s profile was worthy of a reapplication.
To address the challenge of multiple job switches, we framed a clear narrative highlighting the reason behind each switch, what the key learnings were and how it helped progress Sujeet’s career in terms of transferable skills to his post-MBA goals.
We also highlighted updates since the last application. Though Sujeet’s GRE score and work-experience (company) remain unchanged, he had taken the TOEFL and scored well. He had traveled to Germany on a work project for a few weeks. Highlighting these aspects, and his learning curve i.e. through the international exposure was important.
For the interviews, we guided Sujeet with the 10-minute Presentation (topic ideation, structuring slides, and providing feedback on PPT drafts) and conducted a 1:1 mock interview simulating the actual HEC Paris alum interviews. Post the mocks, we provided detailed feedback noting down the strengths and areas of improvement.
Result: HEC Paris MBA Admit with HEC Excellence Scholarship
- Reapplications can turn out successful, if you can showcase updates in your profile e.g. stronger application essays, higher GMAT/ GRE score, taking the IELTS/ TOEFL (if necessary), or upgrades in work-experience e.g. promotion, international exposure etc.
- The best way to handle job switches is by clearly articulating your motivation for switching, what you learned in each role, and how it contributed to your growth journey, also linking these to your post-MBA goals and how an MBA fits in.
- Working on a failed start-up venture can have a positive spin. It showcases your resilience and on-the-ground experience, two traits that B-schools value. Remember, no failure is a mistake if there’s a lesson learned.
Siddharth: Financial Regulatory Officer aiming to transition to FS Consulting
Profile: With 8+ years experience across Financial Regulatory and a law firm, Siddharth had worked as an internal legal advisor, and consulted to committees that formulate regulatory laws and circulars. Through the HEC Paris MBA, he aims to further his business skills and transition into Financial Services consulting at a consulting firm like the MBBs or big-4.
Context: Siddharth reached out to us after he received his interview invite, as he was particularly seeking help on the 10-minute presentation, and how to effectively convey his experiences, career goals and motivations for the HEC MBA program.
Package: Mock Interviews
How admitStreet helped: For the 10-minute presentation (PPT), we ideated and decided on a topic: “Evolution of Insider Trading Laws in India”. As Siddharth had a deep understanding of this topic through his experiences, we decided to simplify it (so anyone without prior knowledge can understand) while showcasing key business insights where applicable. For example, one key slide included the Franklin Templeton case, and how lessons from the regulatory response can be applied in the Indian context.
For the 1:1 interview, we shared some preparatory questions and guidelines prior to the mock. The 60-minute mock was done in a very similar format to the HEC interviews. A detailed verbal and written feedback was shared post interviews, containing actionable insights on Siddharth’s strengths and areas to improve.
Result: HEC Paris MBA Admit with HEC Excellence Scholarship
- For the Presentation, identify a list of topics (both personal and professional) that interest you. Pick the one that can talk about with passion and can take questions on.
- Even if the topic is technical, make it simple to understand e.g. Siddharth presented on “Evolution of Insider Trading Laws in India”, which is a nuanced topic. By using a mix of interesting incidents and simple takeaways, we made it both relatable and interesting
- Structure the slides well, and have a coherent story.
- Pay attention to detail e.g. avoid typos or inconsistent messaging. Alumni interviewers do spot these mistakes, and you don’t want to be embarrassed.
Siddharth: “Right after I received my HEC Paris interview invite, I reached out to Arvind for mocks. Arvind followed a structured approach.
He conducted the interview quite professionally and provided detailed feedback (both verbal and written) on my strengths and areas that I can improve on, including the Presentation. This particularly helped me to tackle the HEC alumni interviews quite well.
Thank you for everything, Arvind!”
Yash: Healthcare consultant aiming for Strategy/ Consulting role
Profile: 4+years experience in healthcare consulting and in-house operational strategy roles in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, across ZS and Eli Lilly (India).
Context: Once Yash received his interview invite, he was both excited and nervous. He didn’t want to leave things to chance, and reached out to us for mock interviews.
Package: Mock Interviews
How admitStreet helped: We started with discussing Yash’s profile in-depth, and understanding his motivations for an MBA. We then guided him through the 10-minute presentation, covering topic ideation, structuring of the PPT, and providing feedback on the PPT until it was strong and well-polished.
We shared some preparatory questions and guidelines pre-mock, and conducted a 60-minute mock interview very similar in format to the HEC interviews. Particularly, we focused on Yash’s career arc, motivations for MBA, and identifying the unique resources that HEC provides to enable his transition into strategy consulting. A detailed verbal and written feedback was then shared post interviews, containing actionable insights on strengths and areas to improve.
Given that HEC was his dream school, Yash was understandably nervous. Through the mocks, we made sure that he felt comfortable both with the format of the interview and in delivering answers with confidence.
Result: HEC Paris MBA Admit
- Your story is your anchor. Prepare anecdotes and be ready to talk about your journey, your career, and what led you to the decision to pursue an MBA, particularly at HEC.
- Expect questions that assess your skills, leadership, teamwork, and adaptability. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses. Provide specific examples from your experiences to illustrate your abilities.
- Prepare questions for the interviewer that go beyond basic information found on the school’s website.
- One of Yash’s interviews was tough, with the interviewer drilling down into specifics and shooting back-and-forth questions. When this happens, keep your calm, and handle it the best way you can. Remember, each interviewer has their style, and they are only trying to know you better.
Yash: “Arvind is an amazing mentor! His guidance throughout the interview process for HEC Paris MBA was pivotal behind me securing the admit. Being an alumni himself, Arvind exactly knows what the school looks for while evaluating candidates.
Arvind’s methodology is straightforward and apt. He assessed me through a mock interview, which was pretty much on the lines of what I experienced during my final interviews. Before the mock interview, he provided some tips regarding how to prepare/execute the 10-minute ppt, and what kind of basic questions I should expect. After the mock, he also provided detailed written notes and suggestions for improvement over email which helped me fine-tune my preparation.
Arvind was always available to talk regarding any kind of questions and challenges. He made me believe in myself and motivated me throughout the process. His personal attention and accurate preparation tips were the main reasons behind me successfully converting my dream school!”
We hope these tales helped answer the 3 questions we set out to answer and motivate you to think holistically about your application.
If you like to partner with us on your B-school application journey, write to us at consultingteam[at]admitstreet[dot]com or fill in the form here and we’ll get back.