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McKinsey PEI - Personal Impact

Anonymous A asked on May 16, 2017 - 9 answers

Hi there,

in 3 weeks I have a McKinsey interview for an internship during my masters degree in Germany. I have already a lot of experience with cases, but fell unsure about the Personal Experience part.

I think my stories for Drive and Leadership are good, but I have problems with the "Personal Impact" part. For example I am part of a student initiative and at the start of the year I convinced a lot of people to join, although the initiative is still new and has not a lot of members yet. Would this be fitting or is it more about convincing a single person to change their behaviour or how can I understand what is really wanted. Personal Impact can mean so many different things in my opinion.

Maybe someone has an example for me or some advice.

Thanks a lot.


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replied on May 17, 2018
Former McKinsey Director (Senior Partner), hundreds of recruiting interviews worldwide - 5 years of industry experience
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The golden rule when you talk about yourself is to be sincere and follow your gut. You would not be at that stage if you were not a smart person with the right CV, so don’t be afraid to pick “the wrong” story. There is not “right” or “wrong”. Talk about something that made you feel proud because you really think you changed the course of the events that mattered to YOU at that point in time, Nobody will ask you why you did not change the course of human history... When I asked these types of questions during recruiting what I wanted to understand was the real character, the intensity of the feelings, the passion, regardless of how truly impactful the story was.

I hope it helps...

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replied on Jan 28, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

I will quote below a previous post I wrote on PEI at McKinsey:

Personal Impact is mainly based on persuading someone about doing/not doing something. Questions include:

  1. Tell me about a time when you persuaded your boss to go along with an idea you had.
  2. Tell me about a difficult situation where you had to rely on your communication skills. 

Here you want to emphasize your influence on someone else, usually in disagreement with you.

To compare with the other usual topics in McKinsey interviews:

Entrepreneurial Drive is about implementing something overcoming major difficulties. Examples include:

  1. What was a situation where you set a major goal and been able to achieve it?
  2. What has been your major accomplishment so far?

Here you want to emphasize the achievement you reached and the process that led you there.

Leadership is about leading a whole team in challenging situation and team management skills. Questions include:

  1. Give me three examples of a time that you lead a group. 

  2. What are some key lessons you have learned about motivating people? 

Here you want to emphasize how you overcome a difficult situation leading a team (not necessarily as the official leader).

Hope this helps,


replied on Nov 20, 2017
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Concerning your question what "Personal Impact" is all about: in short, it's mainly about convincing another person about something.

The most basic ingredient for a strong "Personal Impact" example is a strong underlying conflicting interest between you and the other person. Both parties need to have a strong interest in the outcome of the situation – without this, it will never become a strong Personal Impact example, since if there is nothing at stake, it's not difficult to convince someone.

Furthermore, it's good if your Personal Impact example is going on at least over several days, even better for weeks, since your interviewer is interested in understanding your approach to convince someone from a more strategic, and not only operational/tactical perspective, having candidates clearly laying out a strategic masterplan on how the other person could be convinced. And that's something which usually doesn't happen in one meeting or over night, but requires time to "design" and execute this process of convincing someone.

Concerning your question if your "Personal Impact" example should be focused on 1 person: yes, for sure. And here is why.

As soon as a third party gets involved, it’s immediately immensely more difficult to communicate your example in a structured and clear way in the very limited amount of time within the PEI.

As long as only two persons are involved, it’s easy to follow the situation and know who is you and who is the other person you are trying to convince, and it’s also quite easy to follow what are your interests as opposed to the other person’s interests and concerns. As soon as a third person gets involved, it’s already a triangular relationship and it’s much more difficult to follow the situation since now the interviewer needs to clearly understand what are your interests as opposed to the interests of other person A and other person B, how your interests are conflicting with those of other person A, how your interests are conflicting with other person B, how interests of other person A and other person B are going along with each other or how they are conflicting. Very very difficult to communicate such a situation in a structured way in a short period of time.

replied on May 23, 2017
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I will tell you a little trick here, structure is important in any personal stories but also remember that we are human and recruiters listen to the same structure and more or less same answers every day.

My tip is to turn your question on its head - are the 3 reasons part of a story, that can get an emotional response? I strcture the answers around a story. I will give you my example to help you understand - I talk about my relentless need to be challenged that goes way back to living in Ukraine and starting a business selling pens and Britney Spears stickers.

The more 'colourful' and personal - the more the story is memorable. I don't know what your 3 reasons are, I have not heard the answer, but I always have this filter when I approach interviews:

  1. What is the main point I am trying to make (in my case, that as an industry - strategy is well suited for my personality)
  2. Is the story interesting / engaging / can get emotional response (I bet you still remember mine)

Hope this helps and good luck!

replied on Jan 07, 2018
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When the interviewers ask you to provide an example of resolving a team- or personal conflict, Changing someone's mind, Developing and implementing a solution or overcoming difficulties - it means they want to hear a personal impact story.

Personal impact is a story of influencing people and persuading them to follow your solution. Think of the consultants - in a similar way they have to present their solutions to the client and unite the stakeholders with various opinions.

How should you approach the personal impact story?

  1. Start with a project / job description and mention the conflict
  2. Then provide the particular details of the conflict: Who was involved and what was exactly the problem
  3. Continue with a list of actions you took - Details on how you developed the solution, arguments you used to change the minds of people and people you attracted to support you
  4. Finish with a measurable impact from your actions


Tomi replied on Jan 05, 2018

Read this somewhere helped in my fit prep questions...

Here are the main five themes for PEI:

1. Leading others (22%)
Tell me about a time you led a team through a difficult challenge

2. Managing a team conflict (22%)
Tell me about a time you worked in a team and had to manage a conflict

3. Managing a personal conflict (21%)
Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a colleague / your boss

4. Influencing others (17%)
Tell me about a time you changed the mind of a group of people / an individual

5. Overcoming challenges (11%)
Tell me about a challenge you had to push yourself hard to overcome

Anonymous replied on Feb 23, 2018

Hey anonymous,

As other have referred, Personal Impact is mostly about influencing or motivating others, but you can also try to follow the wider definition offered by McKinsey itself: example where you have demonstrated impact while working with a wide range of individuals in difficult settings.

Btw, be careful not confusing/mixing Personal Impact and Leadership examples, as that's one of the most common mistake in the PEI stories - swapping examples which almost kills your chances.



replied on May 23, 2017
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Hi there,

Your stories should be dynamic and interesting. Make sure it's not boring, like "nobody wanted to join, but I convinced them and everything was fine". Introduce some drama, and showcase how YOUR actions led to a positive result.

Just as a reminder of the PARADE method:

P roblem
A nticipated Consequence
R ole
A ction
D ecision-Making Rationale
E nd-Result
(source -

I usually tend to advise candidates of the more straightforward STAR method:

S ituation

T ask
A ction
R esult

Remeber that Action should be about 60-70% of your answer.

Good luck!

Yusha replied on May 16, 2017
Actively preparing for the final round with McKinsey

I strongly recommend you to read the PARADE method for PEI. You will be able to easily structure your stories and add more layers while you are sharing your uniqueness.

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