I have written a very detailed article on the McKinsey behavioral interview (the PEI).
McKinsey interviews are highly standardized across the globe to ensure objectivity and reduce bias. That is why they consist of the same two main components in each office, the problem-solving interview, and the personal experience interview.
At its core, the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview is a behavioral interview, yet it comes with a twist. Instead of asking many rapid-fire questions like in a typical personal fit interview (e.g., what are your strengths, weaknesses, why consulting, why McKinsey, etc.) it revolves around three specific character traits that will be discussed in great detail.
Each Personal Experience Interview focuses on one specific trait at a time and can last up to 20 minutes. In the whole process, you will have to talk about three different traits, more specifically
- Entrepreneurial drive OR Courageous Change
- Inclusive leadership
- Personal impact
The interviewer will ask you about a situation where you led a team through a challenging time to achieve a certain goal. For this dimension, you need to show that you ...
- ... can handle a diverse group that accepts you as their leader, with diversity being the result of different backgrounds, cultures, hierarchy levels, etc.
- ... tailor your leadership style to different groups and group members
- ... demonstrate your ability to make the team succeed by helping to structure, divide, and delegate tasks and providing them with work plans, deadlines, and effective communication
- ... motivate your team, improve the team spirit and the working environment for all involved
- ... are interested in the well-being of the team and their own individual development along the way
- ... deal with conflicts between teammates and goals effectively
Overall, showcase that your presence as a team leader had a positive impact on the team and lead to a strong outcome for a particular project or task.
For this dimension, the interviewer will ask you about a situation where you set a goal for yourself and achieved it against all odds. You need to demonstrate
- ambition and dedication by pursuing several goals at the same time
- an intrinsic desire and motivation to achieve this goal
- how you overcame obstacles or faced headwinds along the way by coming up with creative and new ideas or approaches
- how you follow the goals with energy and passion until you reached the desired outcome
For this dimension, you will be asked to tell a story in which you influenced or persuaded an individual or a group of people. This can either be about them adopting a certain idea or plan of yours, helping you with achieving your own goals and driving something together, etc. Focus on stories that showcase how you
- worked with challenging individuals or groups, ideally more senior than your own role
- needed to understand their concerns and reservations first
- were able to convince them by using a mix of the right set of arguments and effective communication
- created a sustainable way of working together or even a solution to a difficult problem
McKinsey has started to replace the Entrepreneurial Drive dimension with a new dimension called Courageous Change in a couple of countries. What they want you to talk about is a situation where you faced and maneuvered a significant change or an ambiguous situation, adapting to new circumstances. You need to demonstrate that you
- are able to quickly adjust to new situations and change your course of action if needed
- have the resilience to deal with setbacks and stressful environments
- use challenging situations as a learning and step-up opportunity
- can act based on limited or ambiguous information that is available to you
- overcome obstacles or face headwinds along the way by coming up with creative and new ideas or approaches
- remain positive throughout the whole experience
The new dimension is very similar to Entrepreneurial Drive and most of your content elements overlap.
For more on how to structure and tell your stories, see here: https://www.preplounge.com/mckinsey-pei