Comprehensive prep guide for PEI (experience interview)

McKinsey PEI
New answer on May 04, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 01, 2018

Hi all,

Can you please advise what a comprehensive prep plan should be to tackle the PEI (experience/fit) portion of the interviews.

Thank you!

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Harri
Expert
updated an answer on Aug 01, 2018
UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

Hi,

As Robert mentioned there's no real shortcut for preparing for PEI. However, here are some tips that I found useful when preparing for my PEI:

1) First off, here are some key things to remember before you start your preparation:

  1. Typically, the PEI interview is 10-20 minutes long.

  2. The PEI interview will cover ONE topic for whole period focusing on a particular skill McKinsey wants to test. You might be asked to recall details down to the conversations you were having, how you felt and why you were feeling like that for any specific point in time during the story.

  3. Questions are often predictable as McKinsey tend to ask similar questions every year which makes it easier to prepare for

2) The skills McKinsey are looking for in the PEI (from their website):

  • Leadership

  • Personal Impact

  • Entrepreneurial drive

  • Problem-solving

Be sure to develop at least 1-2 stories for each of the skills listed above. Ideally, select stories which can be used to cover more than 1 skill. This reduces the amount of information you need to retain. When developing your stories it's important to consider the following points:

  • Timeline - Over what time period did the story unfold? Stories which unfold over a couple of days (or more) are often better than stories that happened over an hour. It allows the candidate to talk through how they reflected on the problem, formulated a plan, made a decision about the best way forward, etc
  • Decision making & planning - Stories which include decision making and planning are better as they show the application of skills that consultants use every day
  • Communication - Who did you communicate with? And how did you communicate with them? As stated above, it's possible that you will be asked to recall conversations during the interview so do think about what was said beforehand.

3) Create a list of typical PEI questions based on information available on Glassdoor

Think about how you would use the stories you've developed to answer the types of questions listed on Glassdoor. As stated, questions are predictable so practice is key.

4) Practice, practice, practice...

Finally, make sure to practice telling your stories. This will ensure that you are comfortable with all the details and can recall them without any 'waffle'. When giving your response, be sure to spend the majority of the time on the key details (e.g answering the question asked) rather than providing background information to set up the story.

If you have any further questions about PEI please feel free to get in contact.

Good luck with the preparation!

Harri

(edited)

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 01, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

1) Make sure that you've prepared everything: A story about yourself, motivational questions and the three main stories - one for each of the skills the company wants to test you on - Personal Impact, Leadership, Achievement. Also, don't forget about your questions to the interviewer - you'd rather have an interesting conversation and score some point instead of a simple Q&A session

More details here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/typical-mck-pei-question-for-each-dimension-1502#a3294

and here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/why-consulting-why-mckinseybcgbain-questions-770#a1762

2) Then go through each story and think of the additional questions the interviewer may ask. It’s important since additional questions will take up to 50% of the interview. Try to remember the main details and facts and make sure that you know how to explain the key concepts quickly. Test your stories with your friends, ideally consultants, and ask for their feedback. There can be multiple groups of additional questions:

  • The interviewer may be interested in details about the context
  • He may want to check whether this was your effort or more sort of a team effort.
  • “Have you faced any difficulties while implementing your solution?”- Typically an interviewer would like you to tell him how you’ve overcome those difficulties.
  • Your interviewer will check how real your story is. You should be ready to provide even more granular actions, key milestones and a breakdown of potential effects.

3) Now work on 3-6 backup stories. During your interviews, you can then use these stories or adapt these stories to the additional questions your interviewer asks you.

You may be interested, why you need to prepare several stories for each question? At the end of the day, it's not that easy to come up with all of these stories. I've answered here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/repating-fit-interview-stories-927#a1813

4) Next step is talking to consultants. I recommend doing a couple of mock interviews, both case+fit. You can connect with consultants via friends, company events or even LinkedIn. Consultants are entirely opened to share their experiences, but the biggest problem will be the lack of time. Sometimes you’ll need to send a kind reminder to your request, but it pays off.

Feel free to reach me - I have a separate session for working on PEI and crafting your stories with a lot of tips and consulting tools.

Best,

Vlad

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 01, 2018
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi!

Unfortunately there is no shortcut for preparing the McKinsey PEI - you can find a rough outline for the McKinsey PEI prep process here: https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-prepare-McKinsey-PEI-questions/answer/Robert-Steiner

Hope that helps!

Robert

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 04, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Indeed this is one of the risk of over-preparating, and it not only affects FIT but also the Business Case. People who over-prepare end up being rigid and not natural, and losing the "charm" and naturality that one should have in a conversation.

Think of the FIT part of the itnerview as if you were meeting your partner´s parents: you want to impress them, but also be nice, since you don´t want them to think of you as cocky or sharky. It´s the same thing!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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