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What is the difference in these two fit questions?

Actively preparing for interviews with McKinsey
New answer on Jul 28, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 27, 2020

1) Tell me about a time you led a team through a tough challenge?

2) Tell me about a time when you worked in a team and had to manage a conflict?

Isn't the conflict part (#2) a subset of the challenge part (#1)? OR is #1 more focused on how you helped them understand what needs to be done or guided them through it to solve the issue - but there probably was no conflict anywhere (which seems unlikely)

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replied on Jul 27, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers


If we are talking about the McKinsey PEI:

YES! Managing a conflict within a team is a more specific instance of leading a team through a tough challenge. So the first question is broader and gives you more options in terms of situations to choose from (so the challenge could come from all sorts of sources, including internal conflict). The second question narrows down the source of the chellenge to internal conflict only.

Cheers, Sidi

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Anonymous on Jul 27, 2020

Q1) Wondering when you talk about the challenge you talk about multiple challenges in a PEI story. One instance can have different kinds of challenges - do you talk about more than one?


Anonymous on Jul 27, 2020

Q2) When you have nuances in a story - say when you are asked 1) when you led a team through a challenging time vs 2) when you led a team, how you worked with them and what were the team dynamics. How do you adapt and answer?


Sidi on Jul 27, 2020

Q1) Would recommend to keep focus - one challenge with a rich set of aspects is usually the best strategy.

Sidi on Jul 27, 2020

Q2) Every answer to Q2 would also work for Q1, but not vice versa (since Q2 is a subset of Q1)

Anonymous on Jul 27, 2020

Hello Mr. Sidi, thank you very much. For Q1) I think I'm mixing the words instance, challenge and aspects. So one challenge with rich aspects. I had to organize and move a physical event to virtual platform which is the challenge. I cover two aspects then - 1) how I worked with my team to identify what aspects were key to reproduce and 2) after #1 when we were planning, there was a team conflict. Would these be two aspects or two challenges? They are good alone too but I thought in PEI you'd probably discuss both given its 15 mins - it will add richness perhaps?


Content Creator
replied on Jul 28, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


I see them honestly very different.

The 2nd one is clearly a PERSONAL IMPACT question, while the first one can be either PERSONAL IMPACT or LEADERSHIP, since it gives a much wider range of stories to pick from.

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 27, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Good question!

So #1 is (as Sidi stated) a much broader question. You get to decide what experience you want to draw on, and you can be more flexible in your interpretation.

For #1 this could be a team you led through collaboration, through stakeholder management (conflict), through effective communication, through resolving a team dispute (conflict) etc. There are many possible answers here!

For #2, while narrower, it still does have multiple options. It could be internal or external conflict. And, you could have led them through communication, logistical changes, etc. etc.

If you want to add your proposed answers we can provide feedback as well.

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Anonymous on Jul 27, 2020

Hello Mr. Ian, thank you very much. Let me see if I can post it here - it's very long probably so I'll have to cut. Can it be shared privately? A follow-up: when you convince or influence someone (no conflict as such but you have to change their minds) - 1) is that also a challenge? 2) are all conflicts a subset of influencing instances?


Anonymous replied on Jul 28, 2020

Dear A,

In my eyes there two completely different questions, because the Q1 is about the challenge - it shouldn't be nessessarily related to the team, it could be leadership experience, where yu show that in from of the client youhave understood the challenge and cracked it as the whole team, while showing your leadership skills.

On the other hand, conflict management is more interpersonal one and for here you may apply the Harvard concept of negotiation, mitigation and solving the conflicts.

Hope it helps you,

Wish you best of luck,

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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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