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How long should the initial McKinsey PEI response be? Is there a recommended time length we should maintain?

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Vlad replied on 01/07/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / More than 300 real MBB cases / Collected all Big 3 offers / Harvard Business School

The length is related to your story and additional questions your interviewer may ask.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

It is important that the Interviewers will drill down into your story to understand the dynamics, your reactions and decisions and most of all the rationale behind them. They will follow up with other questions as you tell your story to make sure they understand it in enough detail. I recommend to prepare for these additional questions in advance.

Best,

Vlad

Robert replied on 01/08/2018
Having secured McKinsey offers even without final-round interviews due to my High-Impact Interview Coaching

In total you can expect the PEI to be 12-15 minutes in length - rarely less, but some of my coaching candidates also had more extensive PEIs up to 20 minutes.

Usually I recommend using the PARADE framework to structure your PEI. According to the PARADE frarmework, the following time schedule is a good rule of thumb:

  • Headline (~15-30 seconds)
  • Bucket 1 (~1-2 minutes): Problem, anticipated consequence, role
  • Intermediate structure (~30 seconds)
  • Bucket 2 (~8-10 minutes): Action, decision-making rationale
  • Closing (~30 seconds): End-result

As you can see by the time allocated to the single areas of the PARADE framework, the focus is clearly on your actions and decision-making rationale, where the interviewer will go deep and might ask lots of probing questions.

When you start preparing your PEI examples, 10-12 minutes for talking about some experiences within one situation might seem rather long, and maybe you are even wondering how it will be possible to talk about a situation for so long time during your interviews. However, as you will see going more into the details of the PARADE framework, this 10-12 minutes will be passing very quickly, especially when you are running through your interviewer step-by-step and explaining your decision-making rationale for all those actions.

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