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McKinsey PEI - Team Conflict

McKinsey PEI
New answer on Mar 31, 2024
11 Answers
4.6 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jun 18, 2020

Hi all,

One of the most frequently asked McKinsey PEI question is 'Tell me about a time you manage a conflict within a team'. I am planning to use the story when I was a leader of a team and there's a team member not delivery his tasks at the promised deadline. Is this considered managing a team conflict? If yes, do you have any suggestions on how to further improve my answer? If no, could you please give me some examples please?

Thanks!

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Julie
Expert
replied on Jun 18, 2020
McK interviewer, Ph.D (advanced degree) | Experienced coach (150+) | Practical tips, confidence-based approach

Yes that can work! Two pieces of advice:

1. Be crystal clear on why there was conflict (what was the conflict about) so that the interviewer does not categorize your story as a different dimention (e.g., challenge). Emphasize the actual reasons you and your colleague did not agree. Build up the excitment for the interviewer to make him/her feel like indeed, there was actual conflict with two different opinions.
For instance, you can say "After the first time he missed the deadline, I decided to send him reminders a week before the deadline, every time. He consistently ignored my reminders. I also tried to clarify what his tasks were, but he told me he was well aware of them. At this point, there was a clear conflict between us: I had made it clear it was important to meet the deadlines, but he kept missing them, and moreover, refused to acknowledge and discuss the situation"

2. Since you are interviewing with McKinsey, it is critical to show that you were able to demonstrate empathy - i.e. put yourself in your colleague's shoes. Go deep beneath the surface to understand why he was not meeting the deadlines. The "5 Why's" is a great way to get to the actual root causes of people's behaviors. You do NOT want to say "oh he was just sloppy", but "he felt pressured to deliver on another project, and had personal issues going on at home.". The interviewer will ask you questions like "why do you think he was missing the deadlines?" so be ready to show empathy! Here is more on the 5 Why's: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm

Let me know if that was helpful or if you have more questions!

Julie

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Anonymous replied on Jun 18, 2020

Hi,

First of all, I suggest that you should you use STAR approach for tackling this question.

So, let’s break down that framework. STAR is an acronym that stands for:

Situation: Set the situation and give the necessary details
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved

By using these four components to shape your PEI, it’s much easier to share a focused answer.

Be aware that the most challenged letter is A - action. In order to impress the interviewer you would have to demonstrate a mix of conflict resolution and persuasion techniques:

  1. Conflict resolution: Show a willingness to compromise or collaborate, prioritize resolving the conflict over being right, active listening. Manage expectations and, if needed, set limits, explain, don’t blame, detach and stay calm in conflict, find common ground.
  2. Persuasion: build rapport, use multi stage persuasion strategy, etc

Hope it helps!

Anton

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Yes, indeed, and this fits perfectly into the definition of "Personal Impact": Personal impact stories relate to stakeholder management, usually by handling disagreement or conflict situations

Some other example of questions can be:

  • Describe a time when you had to persuade an uncooperative stakeholder
  • How would you deal with an uncooperative client in order to get the data you need?
  • What is your way of dealing with conflict? Illustrate it with an example
  • Describe a recent crisis you handled
  • Describe a situation when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize tasks
  • Describe a situation in which you influenced or persuaded a key stakeholder or group

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

It 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.

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Best,

Clara

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 18, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

In general it sounds like good a good example!

Few points to mention:

  • It's not necessary to be an official leader of the team - sometimes it's an even stronger example if you first need to be accepted as the informal leader withouth hierarchical power
  • Usually I recommend having at least 3 key leadership challenges included in the example
  • The specific challenge you mentioned is a good one, but it's 'only' a bilateral conflict. I'd strongly recommend to also include team-wide challenges in addition

So the context of your example is definitely a good one - but what really matters are the details how you resolved the situation, so make sure you be very specific and also include your decision-making rationale in a structured way.

I also wrote a whole ebook dedicated to the McKinsey PEI, since basically all candidates underestimate the complexity and also time need for preparation in order to get it really well (both in terms of content, but also how you deliver your story). You can find the ebook at https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com. For in-depth PEI prep, feel also free to contact me for having a session together!

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Anonymous replied on Jun 18, 2020

Hi there.

I think your example could be interesting if you detail what happen exactly in terms of (i) how this person was acting and why would you consider it a conflict (ii) how you tried to be empathic with him/her, understanding potential hidden personal problems, and how you set a conversation to discuss about it - i.e., in front of a coffe to make him/her more relaxed or at the office (iii) how, in the meantime, you were able to manage the client expectation on the task delivery.

Additional examples may be situations in which you had a different point of view compared to someone else in your team (either at work or at uni) and a conflict came and how you then resolve it.

Hope it helps! :)

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

Yes, but you need to emphasize HOW the conflict was materialising. Pick specific examples that SHOW this and then explain the IMPACT they had on the team and the output they were creating.

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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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 19, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

It depends on how the story ends :)

Did the team member continue to not deliver his tasks? Did you fire the team member? Did you make the team member cry?

You have to show that you did something to change the situation in and effective, efficient, and reasonable manner, ultimately ending with you saving the day

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Gaurav
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 29, 2020
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

Hello,

As a coach, I would recommend you to remember stories in your working experience of:

  • Interdependence/Task-Based Conflicts.
  • Leadership Conflicts.
  • Work Style Conflicts.
  • Personality-Based Conflicts.
  • Discrimination.
  • Creative Idea Conflict.

And think about your personal story using STAR+L structure (Situation, Task, Approach, Result and your Learnings)

Was it helpful to you?

GB

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Anonymous replied on Sep 18, 2020

Dear A!

For your story I would recommend you to use a specific structure, which consists of 5 components:

1. Situation (background)

2. Problem (Complication)

3. Your approach (how did you manage this problem)

4. Results (Outcomes of your approach)

5. Your learnings (what you take from this situation)

If you’re telling a story about how you managed conflict on a team you worked on in the past, you’ll need to mention what the team was tasked to do and what the nature of the conflict was so that the interviewer understands the problem you solved. Introduce the challenge quickly and focus on the action you took and the results for the team and yourself.

Hope it helps!

Best,

André

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 20, 2020
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

Hi,

Yes the premise of the story appears to answer the question. However without actually hearing it in detail it is hard to say if it works or not. Some pointers to keep in mind

1. Have a clear framework - I prefer the situation complication resolution framework because it allows for storytelling, however any good framework will do

2. Be very clear in your communication - use numbers, bullet point style communication and engaging body language (e.g., being genuinely interested in telling your story) to draw the interviewer in

3. Have a clear begining, middle and end

4. Do not go off-tangent and at the same time do not leave out important information

5. Be prepared for any follow-on questions

Best,

Udayan

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Anonymous replied on Jun 19, 2020

Hi,

I confirm that your answer works because we are trying here to see the leadership and not the conflict itself

Best

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Julie gave the best answer

Julie

McK interviewer, Ph.D (advanced degree) | Experienced coach (150+) | Practical tips, confidence-based approach
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