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Re-reposition stories or have new sories

Anonymous A asked on Apr 28, 2018

Hi,

There is a recommendation to have 3 stories for each McKinsey core question. Should one have non-overlapping stories or can same stories be used/repositioned to focus, for example, from managing the team on leadership question to driving a change on enterpreneurial drive question?

FYI, I'm taking about 1st round interview, so there would be only 1 question from one manager, and another question from the 2nd manager (in contracts to R2 where you have 3 interviews and might need to have more stories. )

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Vlad replied on Apr 28, 2018
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Hi!

I would recommend to have 2 stories per question that are rather different for the following reasons:

  1. "This story does not fit. Do you have another story?" - an interviewer can easily say something like this if he is not convinced that your story is good enough or the story does not fit his criteria for some reason.
  2. It is essential for you to prepare at least three stories for each area so that in case you get the same question by a couple of interviewers you are not telling the same story. I personally had 3 interviewers asking me exactly the same story. Originally the three of your interviewers are supposed to ask the different questions. In reality, interviewers don't often have a chance to meet before the interview, and sometimes they are urgently replaced by the colleagues. Of course, you can use the same story, but it is much better to demonstrate a diverse experience.
  3. Finally, the interviewer may ask you the questions you didn't even expect. It's always good to have some backup stories and adapt them to answer those unexpected questions.

Good luck!

Robert
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replied on Apr 28, 2018
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Hi there!

In principle - i.e. if you have the opportunity to do so - it's definitely better to use different, non-overlapping examples. By using different examples you also implicitly communicate to the interviewers that you have a range of experience under you belt from which you can choose from, instead of needing to stick to 1 single underlying situation.

That being said - quality always comes first. If you feel that this one underlying situation makes a clearly superior example compared to all other options you have for a certain PEI dimension, than I would still recommend using the same underlying situation with a different focus for the respective PEI dimension.

In respect to "re-using" examples across different interview rounds, you can find a detailed blog post on my McKinsey PEI Blog (http://mckinsey-pei-blog.consulting-case-interviews.com/can-i-use-the-same-pei-example-in-different-interviews/)

Hope that helps!

Francesco replied on Apr 28, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

non-overlapping stories usually work better. The reason is that:

  • using the same story twice although from a different angle could lead you to “force” a story not perfectly fitting the request
  • interviewers will align after the interview, thus using the same story could bring the perception of not enough experience/coverage of relevant fit areas

If you really have to reuse the same story, it should then have to appear as coming from a completely different angle.

Hope this helps,
Francesco