PEI - how much to include when telling your story upfront?

McKinsey PEI PEI
New answer on Jan 12, 2021
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 10, 2021

Hello, should you include all the setbacks you faced in your story and how you dealt with them when you tell it for the first time, or should you wait for it to be asked as a follow-up question? Thanks

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Ian
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

"All the setbacks" is something I'd be wary of saying yes to. You need a major setback or 2 summarized, but no, this should not be the Odessy!

In general, I advize the following:

Step 1 - Categorize the main stories

There are 5-10 "themes" you need to prepare for. i.e. Leadership, teamwork, challenge, etc. (by the way, these all fit under the McKinsey 3). Figure out this list and make sure your stories cover this range (PM me and I can provide you with a template for this list)

Step 2 - Create FLEXIBLE stories that cover a range of categories

You need to create 4-6 stories that each cover a range of topics. They need to be powerful stories that can be adjusted and adapted based on the question asked.

One of my "core" or "killer" stories was usable for Initiative, Achievement, Leadership, Challenge, Change of direction, AND Persuasion.

Write down these stories along STAR or similar format...use bullet points

Interview questions notes

Step 3 - Organize these stories so you know which ones can be used for what and PRACTICE

Make sure you cover the whole gambit. Then, practice getting asked a question and thinking of which stories apply. I can assure you, no-one is coming up with full stories in a few seconds. Rather, they have practiced how to adapt an existing story to the question asked.

Interview stories notes

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Florian
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

In the McK PEI, you should definitely highlight all important aspects of the story by yourself. As a rule of thumb, the interviewer will only ask questions when something is unclear or you did not hit the relevant talking points that McKinsey wants to hear for a specific dimension.

The more details you leave out, the more drilling questions you will receive.

Regarding your statement 'all the setbacks'. Try to focus the story around 1-2 specific pivotal moments that were crucial to reach a conclusion. The PEI is all about depth of a story, and not about being broad.

This is also why you should prepare specific stories for each dimension (entrepreneurial drive, personal impact, leadership) and not prepare general stories that you can use for all dimensions, advice I have been reading here repeatedly and is misleading.

For these pivotal moments, go very deep, remember the interactions, the discussions, the thinking, etc. This will make a much stronger impact than listing a variety of different talking points, only scratching the surface.

Cheers,

Florian

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
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Hi there,

I always suggest to have an internal challenge when you present the actions you took. If you show you did something and have been successful at the first attempt without any challenge, it won’t seem real.

In terms of including all the challenges, it really depends how long your story would go on. If your story becomes a 15 min monologue it won’t be good. In general, presenting one major internal challenge/pushback in your initial story is good enough.

Best,
Francesco

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Vlad
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replied on Jan 10, 2021
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Please find the structure below. Just follow it and include as much as you can in this limit. The interviewer will ask for more details if needed:

  • Summary of what the story is about - 1 sentence
  • Context - 2 sentenses
  • Actions - 4-6 sentenses
  • Impact - 1 sentense

Best

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Antonello
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

I usually recommend to prepare 2 versions of your personal story: one with only the "skeleton" (around 1min30sec) and another with more context and the reasons-why (around 3min).

This allows you to be more flexible and to adapt if you're interrupted, if there's good feeling with the interviewer, you receive followup questions.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Antonello

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Clara
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replied on Jan 12, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

On top of the insights already shared in the post, 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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Feel free to PM me for disccount codes for the Integrated FIT Guide, since we still have some left from the launch!

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Gaurav
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there!

I suggest you not to include all as the story could take too much time. Try to stick to the main ones, but be very clear so that it would be understandable.

My advice is to create your story using
STAR+L approach (Situation, Task, Approach, Result, Learnings)

And of course, always be ready for follow-up questions.

Cheers,
GB

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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