How improve my PEI stories?

Fit Interview Stories I'm preparing to McK coming next week Interview interview story McKinsey McKinsey & Company PEI personal experience interview
New answer on Sep 30, 2023
21 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 02, 2021

Hello everyone,

Yesterday I had my first round interview with Mcksinsey, I prepared well and I felt well. However, when I asked him about his feedback he told me he had a hard time seeing the quality of leadership in the story and that for that reason he had to make a lot of more questions. He also told me I need to relax more. What do you guys think of this feedback? Is it positive or negative?

Regarding the PEI part I have prepared it very well, I have used the framework STARL and have though about stories related to Mckinsey qualities. I have my second interview on Monday and I would like to know how can I improve this part since I don't know what else can I do?

Thank you very much

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Agrim
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replied on Oct 04, 2021
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

The fact that you got feedback during an interview is itself unique and promising. Probably the interview saw potential in you - and felt that it was the story-telling that was undermining your profile.

I would suggest that you should work with a coach for improving your PEI based on the feedback.

Reflecting on some of his input - I would say that following:

  • Hard time seeing the quality of leadership: Perhaps you need to add more color & definition to the story instances that exhibit leadership qualities (such as steering, mentorship, empowerment, motivation etc.). Make the tiny details more pronounced.
  • Had to make a lot of more questions: It is a clear feedback that your stories were not nearly detailed enough. You need to add more vibrancy, more nuance, more color. Happy to take a look at your stories.
  • Relax more: Quite self explanatory. Try to chill-out in the interview. Think that it is not a test - it is just a conversation.

Happy to work with you to develop better PEI answers. Its one thing to use the STARL framework - but it is another to create stories that pop-out. Further, you must ‘tell’ the stories in the right ‘manner’ to highlight the nuances.

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Florian
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replied on Oct 04, 2021
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hey there,

For a clear explanation on how to prepare the stories and how to communicate them well, please check out this detailed article I wrote on the PEI:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/mckinsey-pei

If you have any questions, reach out! :-)

Cheers,

Florian

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Pedro
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replied on Oct 02, 2021
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing Expert | 30% discount in Feb & March

I think you know the answer… the feedback you received on that specific topic was negative. He is clearly saying you need to improve your poise and your stories.

I don't think anyone can help you through writing in here, as the answers are highly customized and there is a lot of non-verbal communication involved. 

So you can:

  • Go through the materials available at preplounge - there is extensive material available on the bootcamp, there are guides available, there is material on the Q&A.
  • You can re-check your answers and preparation with someone you know that has experience recruiting people (and knows what strategy consulting is)
  • You can book a session with a coach that has experience in guiding people on the FIT / PEI part of the case (I do, just like many other coaches on the platform).

Good luck for your 2nd interview!

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey PEI story

Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on May 04, 2022
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

Sounds like a great story! Let me take your questions one by one:

1) Conflict is not a must, especially for inclusive leadership, however, it does help. Any good story is basically the hero doing ok, then something bad happens, the hero is in trouble, then the hero does something and order is re-established. Not only is everything fine again, but the hero also changed and learned new things in the process. This is arc of pretty much any story (think of the last 10 movies you've seen). As a consequence, to make the story stick with the listener, it does help to emphasize the complexity of the situation, what made it difficult, why were the stakes high.  


2. Is this a leadership or a personal impact story?

For now I see it as a leadership story, but you could turn it into either. The whole art is about how you choose to adjust the angle of telling the story. If it's about leadership you focus on your interactions with and impact on the team. If it's personal impact it's more about you individually persuading others or managing conflicts. All of these can be part of the same story, but it's on you to let it surface while recalling the experience. 

Hope this makes sense!

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Udayan
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replied on Oct 03, 2021
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Hi,

It is great you got such detailed feedback and PEI becomes even more important in the second round. I specialize in helping people prepare for PEI interviews (you can check out the reviews on my page) and it is not easy. You will need to dedicate a lot of time to writing the stories AND they must be structured. Personally I do not like the STARL approach for McK PEI. 

 

Here are some tips to help you with your PEI stories

  • Have at least two stories prepared per question type, and look for example questions that highlight each. 
  • Make sure your stories answer the question at hand. Candidates make mistakes when trying to force-fit a story to a question. Don't make that mistake. 
  • Always use a framework when answering the question. I prefer the Situation Complication Resolution (SCR) framework because it most resembles a story with a beginning, middle, and end. There are other effective frameworks as well. Use the one that helps you to be clear in your communication. 
  • Time your answers. Aim for five to seven total minutes per answer. Often, candidates veer off track. Keeping time will help you avoid that mistake. 
  • Make your answer easy on the listener. Use ordinal numbers where you can (e.g., first, second, third). Take a pause to indicate a break and create a flow that your interviewer can follow. Remember, this exercise is about communicating your thoughts with concision. 
  • Be interested in your story! The more interested and engaged you are, the more interested and engaged your listener is. Having a passion for the work is stand-out. If you feel it, let it show. 
  • Get feedback from others. Reach out to your peers or find a good coach to work through your answers. Anybody with experience in the field can help you craft the most effective stories. 

Best,

Udayan

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Francesco
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replied on Oct 03, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

It is difficult to answer without more details on the story. 

The following are some common mistakes I commonly see candidates do in the PEI Leadership story with McKinsey, you can check if you are doing any of them:

  1. They don’t clarify that the team is a diverse team
  2. They don’t have a clear initial statement explaining what the story is about
  3. They don’t explain what are the consequence if they would have not taken action
  4. They don’t use actions related to leadership – that is, helping the team members to improve and empowering them to face a challenging situation
  5. They don't explain why they took those actions
  6. They don’t show they understood the team members needs and act accordingly
  7. They don’t present the actions in a structured way

If you have additional questions please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

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Sofia
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replied on Oct 03, 2021
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Definitely take the feedback to hand. While I have no doubt you put in a lot of prep time and gave a solid performance in your interview, it is always important to make sure you work on the feedback you get in interviews. Any particular areas of development in a given interview will be noted and passed on to your future interviewers, so in your next interview they likely will be paying particular attention to your “leadership” stories.

It's hard to say what exactly you need to do to improve without hearing your answers directly, but here are some suggestions of where to start:

Think about your framing. I am generally a proponent of the STAR framework, and I would recommend really fine-tuning your response to focus more on the A and the R. The S and T set the scene and give context, but the A and R are where your contributions really come through. Are you explaining your specific contributions and the importance of those contributions in sufficient detail?

Think about the stakes of your examples. Are your leadership examples of a sufficient scale (e.g. led a team to launch a new app could be interesting, while led my group of friends in planning a holiday is probably not - silly example, but you get the point)? Do they come from the past few years, as opposed to something in the more distant past? 

Go through your fit stories with someone experienced and ask them for detailed feedback. Ideally I would recommend working with a coach to fine-tune your stories, but you could also work together with a case partner or current consultant. 

Happy to answer any more questions you have about this, and best of luck!

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Alberto
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replied on Sep 30, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Based on what you share, it looks like you need to be more relax and natural while sharing your stories. After sharing the general context, let the interviewer lead the discussion with questions on the areas they are more interested.

For each dimension, prepare 2-3 good stories (ask for feedback on them to a coach or other consultant):

  • Entrepreneurship: focusing on how you delivered impact out of your comfort zone
  • Leadership: focusing on leading a team towards a challenging goal
  • Personal impact: focusing on persuading an individual or group with an opposing opinion
  • Courageous change: focusing on dealing with ambiguity

Best,

Alberto

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey PEI story

Frederic
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updated an answer on May 04, 2022
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey|Senior Interviewer|Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

Hi there,

thanks for sharing your experience with us. On a high level I think the situation may be a great fit for an inclusive leadership story. I have heard many such stories during my interviews. What is important how you shape the story.

1. There is no requirement for a conflict. What interviewers are looking for are that you overcame obstacles while working in a team. The lack of product quality, level of commitments etc. are a good depiction of that.

2. It will be critical for you to highlight why you did certain things to improve the team effectiveness and how you also reflected on your team mate's feelings/backgrounds. Be prepared to receive questions like “What did XYZ think in that moment”.

Happy to support you as sparring partner.

All the best

Freddy

(edited)

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Ken
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replied on Oct 03, 2021
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

The fact that your interviewer bothered to share such honest feedback is positive and encouraging. Usually interviewers will avoid being too critical to avoid confrontation. At the same time, it seems like your understanding of the PEI dimension is not correct and the delivery also requires work. The feedback is negative but true fact that you are now aware is positive. I would definitely work on the feedback you have been given. McKinsey has a strong feedback culture where if there is clear improvement, you could still have a chance with progressing.

Good luck!

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey PEI story

Clara
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Content Creator
replied on May 06, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hell yes! It sounds as a wonderful story. 

Great material to work with there: remember that is key to express the relevant nuances, critical data for decision making, impact, lessons learnt, results… If you want to deep dive on the topic, the "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

Furthermore, you can find 3 FREE Expert Articles on PreLounge, in a sreies dedicated to preparing for the different parts of FIT:

1. https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/cv-interview-questions

2. https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/motivational-fit-interview-questions

3. https://www.preplounge.com/en/behavioral-interview-questions

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes for the Integrated FIT Guide, since we still have some left from the launch

Hope it helps! 

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Ian
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replied on Oct 03, 2021
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

My strongest recommendation is to get a coach last minute if you can (I would offer, but I'm fully booked Monday). You need to get professional feedback/editing here.

Second, his feedback is actually promising - it's good that he gave you such honest/direct advice! Ultimately, you absolutely need to relax more.

I can't tell you how many of my candidates memorize stories and act like they're giving a valetictorian speech. They don't need you to be an orator…rather they need to be able to picture you in front of the client - be natural and personable! (while still staying structured)

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey PEI story

Charlotte
Expert
replied on May 04, 2022
Empathic coach, former McKinsey Engagement Manager |Secure offers from top consulting firms

Dear candidate, 

this is a great story and you can use it for both categories, it definetely works as a leadership story. If you have only limited examples then I would generally suggest, find the most difficult ones first, so entrepreneurship, then leadership then personal impact. Personal impact is so flexible you can use it for so much. But this is just a general suggestion. Of course if you are someone has a lot of entrepreneurship stories, then use a different order, but for most candidates the entrepreneurship stories are more “rare”.

 

Best regards

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Guennael
Expert
replied on Oct 16, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

In spite of the question setup, I think the answer wont be tied to PEI exclusively. The personal ones, typically not directly work related yet somehow relevant.

The absolutely best I heard was a STEM PhD student ending up counting toads in a pond as part of a side project to help a friend with statistical analysis. It was relevant, it was funny (this applicant was an amazing story teller), it was very unexpected, and definitely memorable. He ended up joining BCG btw :)

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Egor
Expert
replied on Oct 18, 2018
Collected McKinsey & BCG offers/ Ex-McKinsey consultant/Harvard/WBS/MSU

Hi Kay,

That's a great question. To be honest, we use PEI stories to break the ice with candidates and understand how he/she thinks, communicates and how interesting his personality is.

Answering your question, it was a girl, who went to Peru to fight poverty and educate people.

On the one hand, I met people, who have great experience, but have pure communication and presentation. Unfortunatley, they fail. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that everyone may have a story with little impact and make me feel interested.

It depends on the presentation: some people invent stories to show their best. And if they rehearsed enough, they could get it.

My suggestion to you is make your PEI stories such entertaining that people want more after you finish them.

All the best,
Egor

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Vlad
Expert
replied on Oct 16, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It was a PHD working on a cancer drug because he had a strong personal connection to that problem.

I would say that the most powerful stories are the stories that are important for you personally - the stroies tied to your personal values and goals.

Best

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Antonello
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Content Creator
replied on Oct 06, 2021
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi!

How did it go? Let me know if you still need help with your PEI preparation.

Best,

Anto

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Agrim gave the best answer

Agrim

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