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McKinsey PEI answers : how long should I speak ?

Anonymous A

Hey there,

I was wondering how long I should spend speaking on my answers for the Personnal Experience Interview questions at McKinsey ?


I heard I should expect very specific questions based on one of their three core values, but I am wondering if I should briefly use the PARADE structure of Victor Cheng to explain what I did briefly and then let the interviewer dive into specific parts, or instead if I should try to speak longer and be very exhaustive in my answer.
Many thanks for your help,

(edited)

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Vlad replied on 10/26/2017
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

(edited)

Nuttachai replied on 10/26/2017

You should talk for about 5-10 minutes, depends on years of experience. Then allow the interviewer to ask some follow up questions. Also it should be done in very structual way.

Good luck!

Francesco replied on 10/31/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Vlad; in general 1.5-2.5 minutes per answer should be ok (with the longer extreme related to several points required per answer, such as “Which are your three top weaknesses”); normally this should be a sufficient time per question for a good application of the STAR method.

If you feel you could add value with additional details, I would recommend offering the interviewer the opportunity to dig deeper, rather than continue with a longer monologue (eg. “I would also be happy to detail how I applied this skill in my next project if interesting for you”).

Best,

Francesco

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