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McKinsey PEI: Not work-related story and background explanation?

Olegs asked on May 25, 2019
Background in consulting boutique. Searching for strong partners to prepare for a McKinsey round.

Hi everyone!

I'm a student in penultimate year of studies that has McKinsey first round soon. I have 2 questions about McKinsey PEI, maybe someone can give me a hint on what is the right way to approach these issues:

1) The stories that I'm expected to tell, should they be all career/study/extracurricular related? E.g. if I have a story (that I'm actually quite proud of) how I over 2 weeks was persuading one of my friends to seek medical attention for issue he was neglecting, and actually it turned to be quite life-changing for him - would such story make a good "Personal impact - tell us about some instance when you changed a person's mind", or I should prepare solely career-related stories?

2) I come from somewhat non-trivial background (went to business after media), and expect it to be confusing for the interviewer just from the resume. I'm expecting a "tell us about yourself" question where I'd briefly guide the interviewers through my career path and reasons behind it. However, can this part be similar for all of the 3 interviews in first round? I know that leadership/impact/etc. stories should be different, but what about this background-explaining story?

Thank you!

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replied on May 26, 2019
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Hi Olegs,

1) If you have an option, work story is more relatable than non-work story, and is a safer route. But if you really have a great non-work story, go for it. 2 things about the PEIs - a) It's always about the delivery. You should be top-down so the interviewer can let you know early on if they want to change the story and b) It's not about the 'what', but the 'why'. You need to spend time explaining why this was a great leadership/personal impact story for you. For instance, someone saving $10K for their company can have a much better answer than someone who saved $5M

2) This should be the same. Having a structured and genuine 'Walk me through your resume' is important and having multiple versions just makes it more confusing.

Hope this helps!


replied on May 25, 2019
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Hi Olegs,

Generally speaking, work-related stories are easier to translate into the consulting world than non-work related stories. All other factors being equal I recommend going for the work-related story. In your situation however, assuming that this one non work-related story is much stronger than all other stories, I don't see an issue at all in using this private context.

That being said, you need to make sure that there is a strong underlying conflicting interest in the beginning and how to communicate this clearly to the interviewer. Without conflicting interest, there is no point in demonstrating how to convince somebody, since the other person doesn't have a contradictory opinion which makes him hard to convince (and your interviewer won't be interested in a situation in which it was easy to convince somebody).

Concerning your 2nd question: Yes, apart from the PEI, McKinsey interviewers typically want to understand much more about the candidate including his background. Here it's important to highlight how all your steps in your CV are connected to each other strategically, pointing into the direction of consulting.

Hope that helps as a first step! Occassionally I also have some slots for coaching sessions - ofc we can discuss your situation and how to the best structure and communicate your PEI stories in much more detail; just send me a message if required.


Vlad replied on May 26, 2019
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1) Better to have both career and non-career related. The more experience you have the more they expect if to be career related. They can also say "This story does not fit. Do you have another one?"So better mitigate the risks

2) The story about yourself can be the same. Actually, if both interviewers ask you about leadership - you can tell both the same story. No issue here


Serhat replied on May 31, 2019
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Hi Oleg,

1- You can have both types of stories. Quality of the story is also an important factor. I would recommend to choose mostly work related ones.

2- You do not need to change this part.


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