Persuasion / Convincing Methods

Fit Interview Stories McKinsey PEI
New answer on Oct 31, 2021
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 15, 2021

While answering the PEI question about how you convinced/persuaded someone despite resistance / opposition / no direct control over them: 

(1) What are good influencing / convincing methods one can refer to while presenting such a story? For example, showing data, building trust etc. 

(2) Content wise, what are some of the ways a candidate can set themselves apart from the competition when answering a PEI question? 

(4) How long should an ideal story be (1, 2, 3  or 5 min.) while answering a PEI question during a McKinsey interview?

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Cristian
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Oct 16, 2021
McKinsey / Oxford grad / ex Firm mock interviewer & internal training faculty / top 25% best consultants in the Firm

This is a great question. I'll take them one by one. 

(1) All the ones that you mentioned are good. To my mind, the top three are 

  1. Building trust. Building a relationship with the client so you can discuss issues openly and they are willing to be open and listen to you even when you're holding the opposite view.
  2. Forging alignment on the assumptions. Presenting and agreeing with the client on the core assumptions for that particular situation and then showing them how those assumptions then lead to the answer you have (thus convincing them)
  3. Convincing others around them. Business is many times a social game. If a client sees others around them changing their minds they are also more likely to reconsider. So if you're faced with a particularly challenging client, start with the less challenging ones around him/her. 

(2) You can set yourself apart through:

  1. A genuine story
  2. Presented in a structured way
  3. Highlighting your individual contribution
  4. In a very complex situation
  5. Where you delivered at your best
  6. And which focuses on the individual set of skills that you have and others might not (try to think what you've done in your background which others might have not, e.g., I'm coaching now a candidate who was the captain of his country's national basketball team - there's lots of leadership stories you can draw from there)

(3) There's no set time. Try to think of it in layers, like an onion. Give the interviewer a brief overview in two sentences so they accept your story. Then go into a bit more detail. Then go into further details, focusing on context, complication, expected result (these 3 parts should take about 20% of the time), then your individual contribution and final outcomes (which should take 80% of the time).

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 16, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 8Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

(1) What are good influencing / convincing methods one can refer to while presenting such a story? For example, showing data, building trust etc. 

From your question I think you may be missing one element in the flow of the story, which is the most critical.

The personal impact story needs to have a part where you show you had an “aha moment”, where you understood the real reason why the person was not agreeing with you. This is critical and without that, the story will be weak. The way you reach the “aha moment” depends on the story. 

Once explained that you got to that point, the method you use to convince the person given the new knowledge may vary. The critical part is that you show you are aligning with the needs that you discovered. It could be showing data, having a new conversation with the person or any other way where you show you used the new knowledge to align with the real needs of the person. Whatever action you use, it should be specific and described in detail.

I developed a specific structure to be sure you deliver the stories in the best possible way (and no, is not STAR, PARADE or any other you may find around ;)), please feel free to PM me if you need help with that.

(2) Content wise, what are some of the ways a candidate can set themselves apart from the competition when answering a PEI question? 

Most candidates use an incomplete structure that misses some critical elements. Both STAR and PARADE are not ideal (PARADE is not bad, but still not great). If you need help with that please feel free to PM me.

(3) How long should an ideal story be (1, 2, 3  or 5 min.) while answering a PEI question during a McKinsey interview?

It depends on how fast you speak, but around 5 min (for your part) is a good benchmark. The interviewer will usually ask questions on parts of the story, so the overall story will last 10-12 min. 

Of course, just the fact you spend 5 min doesn’t guarantee the story is going to be good or well delivered.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Hagen
Expert
replied on Oct 16, 2021
Bain & Company Project Leader | 200+ interviews conducted | 5+ years of coaching and mentoring

Hi there,

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for quite a lot of users, so I am happy to provide my perspective on it:

  • Generally speaking, there is no “one size fits all” type of answer to your questions regarding the McKinsey PEI as interviews tend to have a lot of variance.
  • In order to convince someone from your perspective, I would advise you to first truly understand your dialogue partner's position on the topic and the root cause for this. Only then you would be able to start having a meaningful conversation with him/ her. Depending on the type of person, I would advise you to tailor your approach in an either more rational or emotional way – but in best case, you cater to both the rational and the emotional side in your dialogue partner.
  • To set yourself apart from other candidates when it comes to the Personal Impact dimension of McKinsey (and similar questions with other consulting companies), I would advise you to first truly gather an understanding of what the interviewer wants to hear and answer according to this. Often times, candidates tend to very simply just answer the question instead of thinking through what this really is about. Please feel free to contact me directly for a detailed discussion on this.
  • Contradictory to what other coaches said, I would advise you to aim for at least 5-7 minutes initial presentation of your PEI situation for the simple reason that the whole PEI part of an interview will last around 20 minutes in total.

In case you want a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare your McKinsey interviews (both the PEI and the case study part), please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps,

Hagen

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Moritz
Expert
replied on Oct 17, 2021
ex-McKinsey Experienced Hire | official McKinsey Interview Coach & Interviewer | ESADE MBA | Master of story telling

Some good answers already here so let me complement regarding (1) and (2) in reverse order:

(2) Pick an exciting story - simple as that! You will want your story to have the potential to have the interviewer on the edge of their seat as they’re listening. In my personal experience as interviewer/interviewee, I found that drama cannot be absent from your story if you want to stand out.

(1) Structure is great but do not just rehearse along the lines of STAR or SCORE. Consider also the excitement/drama curve; how it builds up and how you stepped in to save the day.

If you deliver an exciting story with confidence and throw in some dramatic elements, nothing can stop you!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 17, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Great questions here!

(1) What are good influencing / convincing methods one can refer to while presenting such a story? For example, showing data, building trust etc. 

In your story you need to identify why the individual was resistance/obstinate. Flag what they needed, how they work as a person, and what you did to break down these barriers.

Some of these things are communicating/updating frequently, being pro-active, letting them speak first and voice their concerns, showing them data/facts, giving them time/space, etc.

(2) Content wise, what are some of the ways a candidate can set themselves apart from the competition when answering a PEI question? 

Hard to explain this one as it depends on your specific story, but, in general, you want to be clear and articulate and structured in your communication. Make sure to highlight key ways in which you added value and demonstrate good consultant skills!

(2) How long should an ideal story be (1, 2, 3  or 5 min.) while answering a PEI question during a McKinsey interview?

Generally 5+ min is the rule for PEI

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Pedro
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Oct 31, 2021
# 1 Rated Bain Coach | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Former Head Recruiter | Principal

Remember the ethos-pathos-logos of the wise greek rethoric masters. 

In general, to convince someone, it is not sufficient to have the facts or logic right. 

You first need to build rapport - you need to (really) listen and show you understand and care about the other person's concerns (ethos).

You may also need to appeal to a person's values or to a vision of common good in order to align them on the same objective. (pathos).
 

Only afterwards that you can use reason / facts / logic to convince someone (logos).

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Anonymous A on Nov 24, 2021

Pedro - thanks! I used the Ethos-Pathos-Logos framework in PEI portion of the interview with a partner. It was very effective and I got the offer.

Pedro on Nov 25, 2021

Great comment! Awesome, very happy for you. Looks like I am helping people get offers from my advice even outside coaching sessions! :) Really appreciate you letting me know!

Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 18, 2021
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

Hi,

 

For questions related to personal impact, be sure to not just focus on analytical aspects but also on the emotional aspects. We may think we are rational but almost all our decisions are emotions driven.

  1. Showing data is good, also look at getting a trusted source to confirm the analysis for example or providing scenarios where similar work has been successful
  2. The following will set you apart
    1. Be structured in your delivery - I like the Situation, Complication, Resolution framework best
    2. Be detailed - a good PEI answer is 5-8 mins long
    3. Answer the question - pick a story that actually answers the question asked and do not force fit an example 
    4. Be clear by practicing with others and incorporating relevant feedback
  3. 5mins plus is what I coach people to do as you need to be very detailed in a McK PEI question

Best,

Udayan

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Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

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McKinsey / Oxford grad / ex Firm mock interviewer & internal training faculty / top 25% best consultants in the Firm
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