The questions might sometimes be phrased a bit differently, however, will always fall into the 3 dimensions. What I have found online on some websites that claim to have a list of all PEI questions is factually wrong and rather unsettles candidates. Focus on what is important. Below are the three dimensions plus some ideas on what to include:
1. The dimensions
a. Entrepreneurial Drive
- Set a goal for yourself and pursue it relentlessly against all odd
- The focus here should be on overcoming obstacles, showing ambition and dedication as well as ingenuity
b. Personal Impact
- Persuade a group or individual to adopt a certain idea or plan of yours
- The focus should really be on the influencing tactics you used to reach your desired outcome
c. Inclusive leadership
- Show that you can manage a diverse team, leading it to a successful outcome
- The focus here should be on all traits that make a great leader (e.g., inclusiveness, mentor, mediator, go-to person, people person,...)
2. Select the right stories with the right content
When it comes to the selection of your McKinsey PEI stories, you need to think about three dimensions in the following order:
a. Fit with the actual dimension that is asked. The stories need to fit the criteria set out by McKinsey to match with Entrepreneurial Drive, Leadership, and Personal Impact. For content ideas see above.
b. Diversity of experience. Your stories should be from different walks of life, e.g., jobs or careers, universities, extracurriculars, etc. Don’t take all stories from one experience.
c. Recency. In general, the more recent the better. Unless you interview for an experienced hire or more senior position, your stories should not date back more than 2-3 years.
Make sure that
- you draft two stories each to always have a backup story in case the interviewer rejects the first story
- you are aware that the interviewer might interrupt you a lot to ask detailed questions, which means your stories need to go very deep as you should be ready to answer very focused questions such as ''what did you say at that moment?'', ''How did he react'', etc.
- create catchy headlines for each story that already convey the main message
- you create content for each story to be able to talk freely for around 10 minutes
3. Learn how to communicate them most effectively
Communication is key in the interview. Speak like a consultant, follow a logical, top-down structure, and make sure to
- focus on yourself and your own role all the time
- keep the context brief and really focus on your own actions (context 2 minutes, your actions 8 minutes)
I have developed a framework specifically for the effective communication of McKinsey PEI, the SCORE framework. Reach out if you want to know more about it.
4. Shortcut get it right quickly: Book a session with a coach that knows these dimensions in and out to make sure that
- a. they contain the right content
- b. they are communicated in the most McKinsey-like way
- c. you can anticipate and prepare for the detailed drill-down questions the interviewers will ask
A practical example to get back to your question:
If you are unsure what dimension the interviewer is getting at, rephrase the question and play it back. For instance, if the interviewer asks you about a situation about a team conflict it could be a leadership or personal impact story.
So what you should do is ask: ''Am I correct in assuming that you are interested in a story of me leading a team through difficult times''? If the interviewer says yes, you know it will be an inclusive leadership story and can go ahead with your headline and summary, then go deeper into the story.
I have written a detailed insider perspective on the PEI that covers all aspects and will help you prepare strong stories here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/mckinsey-pei