Upcoming McKinsey interview + how to come up with PEI stories

Anonymous A asked on Jun 14, 2019 - 4 answers


There's 2 parts to my question today

The first one: I just got an email from HR regarding final round interview. There is no further information given so I wasn't sure what to expect. She said it'll be 30 minutes so I think it can't be both case and behavioral. My thought that it'll be behavioral + market sizing or just case interview. And I think it is potentially an interview with the partner? Does anybody know what could potentiall be the interview format (don't think I should ask this to the HR). In addition, if it is a partner interview, any tips?

Second question: I want to prep for PEI, but finding a hard time coming up with impactful stories. Any tips in how to come up with these stories?

Thank you!!

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Anonymous replied on Jun 14, 2019


This may be a "cheap" answer but just be prepared for anything! It could be a "quick" case that doesn't have a ton inside it. It could be a couple "framing" questions. It could also, as you mentioned, be a market sizing.

Just be prepared to go with the flow! If they seem to want to skim through the beginning of the case, or they don't care about thorough math, take their direction! As always, expect to 1) Be able to say why consulting/McKinsey and 2) Be tested on your ability to think logically, frame+present thoughts clearly, etc.)

In regards to the PEI...are there any major moments in your life? Did you ever work on a very hard project with many phases?

replied on Jun 14, 2019
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Hi there,

I'll address only the second part of your quesiton - for the first part there would be too much pure speculation involved from my side.

When it comes to the PEI, firstly you need a clear understanding of the 3 dimensions and the respective scoring criteria of McKinsey (so what the interviewers are looking for in your PEI examples). Based on this information you need to go back to your CV (assuming that you put everything relevant into your CV) and go through each section to see where you demonstrated abiliities relevant for the PEI. Generally speaking, your PEI examples can come from professional experience, internsips, extra-curricular activities, university settings or potentially also from private areas.

However, the specific context/example from which you take your PEI example is much less of a concern and hardly influences your PEI evaluation. It’s much, much more about your personal contribution to that specific situation (bonus: does that ring a bell with the “Anticipated consequence” of the PARADE framework?). So how did you (positively) influence this situation? What was your real-life value in that situation? Needless to say, all other factors being equal, I would also take the more impressive context/example, but that's not at the core of the evaluation!

You can find the full original blog post (and many others related to the PEI) here: https://pei.consulting-case-interviews.com/blog/right-mckinsey-pei-examples/

Hope that helps!


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replied on Jun 15, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

30 minutes is indeed unusual for a final round at McKinsey. As mentioned by Ian, I would prepare on all the areas; it could also be that the case timeline will be longer and you will go for the traditional 45 min with fit and case (I know cases where HR said the interview had no case – and the candidate got a case in it! Partners, in particular, don’t have major obligations to follow defined rules).

The structure of the final round is the same as the first one (fit + case+ your questions); however, there is far more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main difference you will find in a final round with partners is that at that stage they:

  1. spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company
  2. check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions)
  3. may not have a “proper” structured case to present – during my final at BCG I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because at the final they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company

So in order to prepare I would concentrate on:

  • Review in details your fit stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioral questions
  • Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how to gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, etc). This is something you can test almost exclusively in p2p mocks with peers/experts.
  • Prepare on cases as you did for the first round. More market sizing practice could be useful to think out of the box if you get unusual questions.

In terms of the PEI would be great if you could indicate the specific questions you find challenging to answer and your hypotheses on the possible stories, this will help to provide some tips in a more structured way.



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It will be similar to the first round

In the final round, I would expect a bit more structured and demanding approach to the fit part. The partners in the last round are more experienced and they will challenge every single detail of your story. So make sure that you have a couple of backup stories. Thus:

1) Make sure that you've prepared everything: A story about yourself, motivational questions and the main FIT stories. Also, don't forget about your questions to the interviewer - you'd rather have an interesting conversation and score some point instead of a simple Q&A session

2) Then go through each story and think of the additional questions the interviewer may ask. It’s important since additional questions will take up to 50% of the interview. Try to remember the main details and facts and make sure that you know how to explain the key concepts quickly. Test your stories with your friends, ideally consultants, and ask for their feedback. There can be multiple groups of additional questions:

  • The interviewer may be interested in details about the context
  • He may want to check whether this was your effort or more sort of a team effort.
  • “Have you faced any difficulties while implementing your solution?”- Typically an interviewer would like you to tell him how you’ve overcome those difficulties.
  • Your interviewer will check how real your story is. You should be ready to provide even more granular actions, key milestones and a breakdown of potential effects.

3) Now work on 3-6 backup stories. During your interviews, you can then use these stories or adapt these stories to the additional questions your interviewer asks you.

You may be interested, why you need to prepare several stories for each question? At the end of the day, it's not that easy to come up with all of these stories. I've answered here: Repeating Fit Interview Stories

As for the cases - Partners and Directors have their own favorite cases and may even want you to lead the case. The key difference:

  1. You ask clarifying questions in the beginning and make a structure
  2. You lead the case through the structure you've prepared a) asking questions and trying to identify the root-cause of the problem in the branch of your structure b) making a transition to the next branch c) proactively calculating the data and making data-driven conclusion from the data they give you d) Making a conclusion when they ask you to finish a case

It may seem to you that these 2 types of cases are different, however, the interviewer-led type is just a simplified version of the interviewee-led case. My advice is to always prepare in the interviewee-led format so that you could solve both easily.