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McKinsey PEI Team conflics

Anonymous A asked on Sep 30, 2019 - 4 answers


I have an upcoming interview with McKinsey and one of the PEI questions that often come up is about managing a team conflict. I want to use the story of how I turned a senior project stakeholder who was initially dismissive of me into a strong advocate. However, I feel my story is not really answering the question as it is more a personal conflict than a team conflict. What do you guys think and what could be examples of team conflicts?

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replied on Sep 30, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

There is no need to restrict yourself to "team conflicts" for insightful leadership situations, it's much more about interpersonally challenging situations. Team-wide aspects for leadership examples include

  • How to initially form a team (especially if the team is working on a pro-bono basis without additional financial benefits)
  • How to align the team and make everyone feel comfortable with the "big picture/vision/mission" of the venture, so that everyone can see himself part of it
  • How to motivate the team after a severe setback (e.g. project funding was unexpectedly cut because of economic downturn, change of management etc.)
  • How you coach/mentor the team to make the whole team successful
  • ...

Hope that helps as some inspiration! Since it's a common question, I also included those details also in the Ultimate McKinsey PEI Prep ebook, in case you need more guidance on the McKinsey PEI.


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replied on Nov 07, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

I would indeed consider another example for this particular question given the question explicitly mentions a team. You could use examples of part of the team arguing with another part due to:

  • Different vision
  • Bad behavior
  • Mistakes of team members

The structure for a conflict question in a team is exactly the same as for the one with a specific person:

  • Describe the situation the problem is related to
  • Present the negative consequence if you would have failed
  • Show your task and action taken. Don’t show you convinced immediately the team members, but rather show push back
  • Show the rationale for your actions
  • Present the results

Hope this helps,

replied on Sep 30, 2019
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I would look at this broader:

  • A conflict = someone disagreed with you and you had to persuade him
  • Team = in order to persuade someone with a high position in the company you need to persuade his team first. And then they will be your advocates to persuade this person. Or even better when they take the ownership and present your ideas themselves


replied on Sep 30, 2019
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I would agree with your assessment. A team conflict is typically related to conflicts within a team environment. Examples could include disagreements on approach/solution, people not pulling their weight or general discord within a team. One way to use this story would be to look at if this issue in particular caused any team related conflicts and build it out with that focus


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