How to answer PEI questions for McKinsey interview?

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New answer on May 18, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on May 17, 2020

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Sidi
Expert
updated an answer on May 18, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

There are two cucial aspects you need to get right:

1. Really understanding, what each dimension means and why McKinsey scrutinizes it

2. Properly structuring the story to ensure that you address what McKinsey is really testing for

On point number 1, you need a former McKinsey interviewer to explain this to you. Not a consultant! An actual interviewer! Unfortunately the dimensions are almost impossible to properly explain if you have not been trained by the firm on what you need to test for. They are not self-explanatory (for example, "Leadership" has nothing to do with formally telling other people what to do or not to do; Personal Impact" has nothing to do with impact, and "Entrepreneurial Drive" has nothing to do with founding a company/organization).

On point number 2, the STAR framework is oftentimes mentioned. But I would definitely NOT recommend it, because it leaves out the most important aspect that McKinsey is looking for: the analysis and identification of the root causes of the existing problem. The STAR framework directly jumps from "Task" to "Action", wich is extremely problematioc. You need to explain the problem/challenge, why it was relevant, how you found out the root causes of the issue/challenge, and how you then addressed these root causes. A very natural part of this is also to describe such things like early failures in addressing the issue, which then helped you to understand the REAL reasons for the existing issue. It is very important that you concretely explain how you reached your understanding of these reasons and how you then consciously adapted your approach.

Cheers, Sidi

(edited)

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Anonymous updated the answer on May 17, 2020

Hi,

I would suggest a STAR approach:

S - Situation - a project/event/any situation that you faced

T - Target - responsibilities and assignments for this situation/what target you were working towards

A - Action - describe actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail

R - Result - tell about the outcome of your actions. try to focus on positive results and key learning

You should take into account that the interviewer will most likely challenge your actions rather then outcome so be prepared to provide details.

Also note that McK will test your PEI across 3 topics:

Entrepreneurial Drive:

  • How did you demonstrate a can do attitude?
  • How did you take calculated decisions?
  • How would your colleagues and clients measured results of your actions?

Leadership Example:

  • How did you create an inspiring vision?
  • How did you motivate and inspire people to engage
  • with the vision?
  • How did you manage to delivery the vision?
  • How did you coach and build the team?

Personal Impact:

  • What was the purpose of persuasion in this situation?
  • What was your experience of using multi-stage approach to persuasion?
  • How did you handle objections?

Hope this helps!

Anton

(edited)

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello there!

Which part of the PEI are you referring to?

There are different type of questions that can be asked in a Mck PEI interview, and each of them as a way to go.

overview type of fit questions

I leave you here one of the slides of the FIT Guide I´ve written for PrepLounge that summarizes it. For each of the type, tue guide precisely gives guidance of how to tackle them and prep.

Full guide can be found here > https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34

PM me if you are interested in disccount codes for it!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 17, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

for the PEI part specifically, I would recommend the following:

  1. Understand the difference between, leadership, impact and drive areas. You can find a link with their differences here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/mckinsey-pei-difference-drive-and-personal-impact-918#a1780
  2. Identify good stories for each area. Ideally you want to have at least two stories for each area.
  3. Use a structure for your story. I would suggest to use the STARR model (Situation, Task, Action, Rational for Action, Results)
  4. Identify for each story one sentence clarifying what the story is about and start with it. Think of it as the title of a journal article.
  5. Practice live, collect feedback from people listening to you, reiterate until when you get fluent and persuasive

Besides that, you should also prepare for the traditional other fit questions, such as the following:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why consulting
  • Why McKinsey
  • Why should we hire you

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 17, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

You want to make sure to have prepared a number of stories that can be brought up flexibly depending on the question asked. Furthermore, you need to make sure you're comfortable talking about them in great detail (practice this with a friend or coach!)

When crafting your story, you want to make sure that it:

  • Results in significant consequence - What would have happened if you didn't overcome this challenge?
  • Clearly demonstrates traits interviewer wants to see - Did you show strong leadership? Problem solving and insight? Adaptability? Persistance? Or, better, all the above?
  • Has a clear problem identification and resolution

When I was asked in interview about overcoming a difficult challenge, I used this story: I joined a project on which we were the prime. The project was on fire, failing fast, and about to be cancelled. I was tasked with leading the development team which was of incredibly low quality and moral. First, I fixed the dev team through x,y,z actions. Second, I went above my paygrade and fixed project management through x,y,z actions. This resulted in me saving the project worth x million $ and everybody happy.

______________________________________________________________________

There are also some great Q&A answers here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/upcoming-mckinsey-interview-how-to-come-up-with-pei-stories-4239

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Anonymous replied on May 18, 2020

Dear A,


This is very broad question, but anyway for every story, I would recommend you to use a specific structure, which consists of 5 components:

1. Situation (background)

2. Problem (Complication)

3. Your approach (how did you manage this problem)

4. Results (Outcomes of your approach)

5. Your learnings (what you take from this situation)

If you can apply this framework to every of your PEI stories and communicate in a top-down way, you would definitely leave great impression. For more details, feel free to approach me.


Good luck,

André

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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