The McKinsey interview consists of a case and the PEI. Let's look at both:
In the McKinsey case interview you will have to answer three different questions types - broadly speaking:
- Exhibit Interpretation
Now for Structure and Exhibit Interpretation, there is no right or wrong answer. Some answers are better than others because they are
- follow a strong communication (MECE, top-down, signposted)
That being said, there is no 100% that you can reach or the one-and-only solution/ answer. It is important that your answers display the characteristics specified above and supported well with arguments.
As for Math questions, usually, there are answers which are correct (not always 100% the same since some candidates simplify or round differently - which is ok), and others that are wrong, either due to the
- calculation approach
- calculation itself
How can you prepare for that:
1. Given your timeline, get a coach with McKinsey experience to
- objectively evaluate your readiness
- tailor a short-term prep plan based on elevating the strengths and getting the weaknesses to an acceptable level
- actually learn how a McKinsey case works
2. Practice with other candidates and perform structure, math, chart drills given to you as 'homework' from the coach
As for the PEI:
1. Learn about the PEI dimensions
Below are the three dimensions plus some ideas on what to include:
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
No story I worked on with my candidates has ever been rejected. Reach out if you need help!