great question as in finals people are generally able to solve cases and the difference between an offer and a rejection is on details. The answer is really case-by-case, but some typical elements include:
- Lack of structure for unusual questions. Partners sometimes like to brainstorm with candidates on their last project or an idea they had. If you are prepared on standard questions but are unable to answer something like “How would you solve the unemployment problem in Europe” you may be in trouble.
- Lack of connection between the different parts of the case and the “big picture” objective. Some candidates perfectly solve the different parts of the case, but miss the connection with the final goal of the client. For example, they may do the right calculation or derive the correct graph insight, but they don’t connect that number or inside with the client’s goal without the help of the interviewer.
- Lack of connection with the interviewer. If you don’t connect well with the partner or he/she doesn’t feel you are client-ready, you won’t get an offer, no matter how outstanding your case skills are. There are specific communication tips you can follow to be sure you are able to engage and show you would well represent the firm in front of the client. Your questions at the end are also an important element to make a good connection.
In terms of the PEI, if you prepared well your stories before (good structure, backup stories, clear understanding of what each dimension implies, etc) there should not be issues as the key dimensions are always the same. You should still review your answers as they are still a critical part of the interview and partners may like to dig deeper. You should also be ready for stress interviews, which are more likely in the final than in the first round.
For any questions on the previous points please feel free to PM me.
Hope this helps,