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PEI Format and Length

Shuhao asked on Sep 13, 2018 - 2 answers
Preparing for MBB interviews; experience in pwc

Hi there,

As I am actively preparing for my McKinsey 1st round interview, I am quite curious in terms of the format of PEI.

Some have told me that I should give a one sentence briefing on the story and then dive in with full details. Others have told me to compress the story down to around 3-5 minutes so that the interviewer can ask questions later. I am wondering which method would be more suitable for answering such a question.

Thank you so much.


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replied on Sep 13, 2018
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Don't think about the time, since the interviewer will be interrupting you with the additional question. I recommend the following approach:

  1. One sentence summary to give the interviewer the idea of what the story is about. Thus if it's not the right right story - he will tell you up front instead of interrupting in the middle.
  2. In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  3. The problem usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  4. Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you at any minute and ask for more details.
  5. The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

It is important that the Interviewers will drill down into your story to understand the dynamics, your reactions and decisions and most of all the rationale behind them. They will follow up with other questions as you tell your story to make sure they understand it in enough detail. I recommend preparing for these additional questions in advance.



replied on Sep 13, 2018
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Hi Shuhao,

I wrote a blog post on this topic a while ago. Using the PARADE framework as a basic structure, please find below a typical sequence including timing. It's definitely a good idea to provide an overview of your challenges to the interviewer ("Intermediate structure") before diving deep.

  • Headline (~15-30 seconds)
  • Bucket 1 (~1-2 minutes):
    • “Problem”
    • “Anticipated consequence”
    • “Role”
  • Intermediate structure (~30 seconds)
  • Bucket 2 (~8-10 minutes)
    • “Action”
    • “Decision-making rationale”
  • Closing (~30 seconds): “End-result”

You can read the full original blog post here:

Hope that helps!


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