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Article by Ben Feuer, Photo by Arvell Dorsey Jr.

For a few years now, the business school video essay has been on the rise.  Schools like Yale SOM, Northwestern's Kellogg School, Toronto's Rotman School and many others have incorporated some form of video into their applications.  
Here at Forster-Thomas, we've been ahead of this trend for years -- we work closely with every candidate to prep them for spontaneous and engaging interview and video skills, because we know how much the top schools believe in them. It's not hard to understand why.  Adcoms are human, and humans prefer to evaluate other humans face to face.  Plus, as the technology continues to improve, video essay providers are making big promises to schools about what their product can do.   

Kira Academic, the premier provider of video essay services, claims their product can accurately assess the communications and presentation skills of applicants, particularly international applicants, where interviews can be challenging.  Schools agree -- The dean of Rotman has praised Kira's 'three-dimensional' view of an applicant.

Schools also like these products is because they make applications quicker to review and harder to fabricate -- no one can buy essays from essay mills if they have to write them on the spot, after all!

It's now clear that only candidates with a deep and meaningful understanding of their own life stories are going to make it past the gatekeepers into an elite business school.  The game is changing -- making it up isn't going to work, nor will forcing someone else to 'figure it out' for you.  As the candidate, you are responsible for building a robust narrative from the inside out, and knowing it inside and out.  In other words, we were right all along -- as usual.

For all these reasons, we here at Forster-Thomas are convinced that video essays and video resumes are going to be major players going forward.

So how do you ace your b-school video essay?  There's no simple answer, and no simple checklist to help you get there.  Sorry!  That said, here are a few tips from our in-house video expert (and former MTV teen star) Tom Locke --

Your analytical mind is your enemy.  This is not a challenge you can 'prepare' for by memorizing a speech or revising a script -- you improve by practicing your presentation skills on your feet and honing your ability to be open and engaging.

Greet your anxiety.  Stanford (yes, GSB Stanford) also places a huge emphasis on the ability to extemporize well -- so much so that they created a mandatory seminar for all their incoming freshmen, then threw it on the web!  One of the best take-aways from this hour-long video is the idea of 'greeting' your anxiety.  Don't get anxious about the fact that you're anxious -- power through it and stay focused on the question the application is asking you.

Speak (and sit) naturally.  Do yourself a favor -- don't twist yourself in knots (literally) trying to answer these questions.  The mind and the body are one -- if you feel at ease, you will be at ease.

So you've reached the end of the article -- does that mean you're ready?  Sadly, no.  Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to presentation skills, and no one improves without feedback.  To nail this one, you're just going to have to pick up the phone (you remember how that works, right?) and give us a call!  We promise not to make fun of your speaking voice.