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McKinsey PEI: Duration of how long I speak

Actively preparing for interviews with McKinsey
New answer on Mar 31, 2024
8 Answers
1.7 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 08, 2020

For McKinsey PEI, I know the total duration is 12-15 minutes, but I wanted to understand how long I should speak after the initial question is posed? I prepare using the STAR approach and usually, my monologue answers are 5-6 minutes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I go pretty deep into all aspects of the STAR approach.

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 31, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

The actual story should be 5-8 minutes. 

The whole segment with the back and forth takes 20-25 minutes. 

It all depends on the interviewer, your story, your ability to pull in the interviewer and so on, but these are good targets to have in mind.

For anyone else who is preparing for the PEI component, I've created a video course with my 6-step storytelling framework that has helped my candidates get distinctive feedback on the McKinsey PEI. You can find out more about it here:

Best,
Cristian

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Ken
Expert
replied on Sep 08, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

It really depends on the interviewer but if you are well-prepared and structured with your answer, then a 5-6 min monologue is absolutely fine. If the interviewer is frequently having to jump in at the beginning, its quite likely that they are struggling to understand the context of your story. On the other hand, it's very natural for them to ask lot's of clarifying questions as you go deeper into the 'challenges' you faced and the 'actions' you took to get a better read of what they are looking for.

In addition to structure and preparation, my suggestion would be to make sure your story is interesting (also an opportunity to differentiate yourself) and you are able to tell it in an engaging way (especially during the monologue). You will be surprised how often candidates share very similar stories (e.g., leadership role in a student club, school project, etc.). By no means am I suggesting they are inappropriate but it's worth thinking about what is interesting and unique about your story that makes your interview memorable for the interviewer.

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Anonymous A on Sep 08, 2020

Hello Mr Ken, thank you for clarifying on the monologue part. I try to have a STAR layout so it has some structured flow to it. Regarding the uniqueness of stories, let's say they ask you about a time I overcome a challenge - can I use a story on how I started skydiving to address my fear of heights? It's not work-related but it's interesting.

(edited)

Ken on Sep 09, 2020

In response to structuring (e.g., STAR) I wouldn’t use it religiously to my point around telling your story in an engaging way. It’s a great framework to prepare your stories so that it is framed around a ‘problem’ but it’s important to be able to navigate your story freely based on how your interviewer engages. I have had candidates who are overly focused on “presenting” their template answer then engaging in a conversation.

Ken on Sep 09, 2020

For your specific question on selecting an interesting story, the relevance is important too. At McKinsey, the question is often phrased more specifically - e.g., overcame a challenge working in a team, etc. which is a question that helps the interviewer get a read on how you would deal with a similar situation during a consulting project. The story definitely doesn’t need to be work related but I would avoid personal hardships that are more emotionally centred (e.g., overcoming death of family member). General rule of thumb for McKinsey is they are looking for stories around “problem solving with impact”. If your sky diving is example fits that then it could be a relevant story.

Anonymous A on Sep 09, 2020

Thank you so much, Ken. Your answers are definitely very helpful and I'm glad you mentioned that I should be able to navigate the story as the interviewer requests rather than sticking to my template - I could have potentially made this mistake. One final question - when you say problem solving with impact, what does impact refer to? Is it impact for others or can it be a personal achievement? for example, in my skydiving case - it allows me to get over my fear of heights.

Ken on Sep 09, 2020

It's a great question - impact is often loosely defined and subject to personal interpretation. I personally think about it both directly in terms of the end outcome as well as the indirect actions/process to get there. Helping a friend/team member overcome a fear/challenge would be more appropriate than your own self development/learning. Not explicit but I do feel there is a bias towards impact being something beyond yourself.

(edited)

Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

This is precisely adressed in the "Integrated FIT guide for MBB", that has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

There are pages in charter 2 precisely proposing different times for questions and sub-questions.

Furthermore, the 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 2 free cases in the PrepL case regarding FIT preparation:

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

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Vlad
Expert
replied on Sep 08, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

The full fit part can take 20-30 minutes, which includes:

  • Tell me about yourself question
  • Story (Leadership, personal impact, etc)
  • Additional questions to the story
  • Any other additional questions interviewer can randomly ask (e.g. your strengths and weaknesses)
  • Your questions to the interviewer (at the end of the interview)

The story itself should be up to 5 min. However, the interviewer will constantly interrupt you asking a lot of additional questions, so it will end up as 10-15. He can also say something like "This story does not answer the question, do you have another one?" And you'll have to start over again. STAR framework works

Best

Best

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, I can confirm the total duration is up to 25 minutes, while I usually recommend not answering in more than 3/5 minutes without the intervention of the interviewer. I have specific sessions to prepare impactful stories about your background and to structure strong answers for the 3 most common questions (why you? why consulting? why McK?). Feel free to text me if curious to know how I usually work with candidates.

Best,
Antonello

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

It should be ok if you deliver it correctly. You are on the long side if it is 5-6 min, but if you are engaging and covering the right areas that should be fine. Usually 3 to 5 min for just your part is enough.

It is unlikely you are going to have a monologue of 6 minutes in any case – the interviewer will very likely interrupt you and ask clarification on some parts of the story.

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 08, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Fundamentally, read the room. If the interviewer is looking fidgety, speed it up (i.e. cut), or leave room for them to interject.

that being said, 5 minutes is about right for PEI. Again, have sections where the interviewer can easily interupt and probe into more detail.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 08, 2020

Dear A,

Your monologur for your story can take up to 5 min. But remember that it should very well structured (STAR or PARADE)

Best,
André

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Cristian

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