Can I use the same PEI example in different McKinsey Personal Experience Interviews?

Or can  use them at least in different interview rounds? Or can  use them at least in different interview rounds?

In total there are only 3 different Personal Experience Interview dimensions (Leadership, Personal Impact, Entrepreneurial Drive), but more than 3 interviews to reach your desired McKinsey offer. In addition, preparing your PEI examples in a way that they live up to the high performance standards of McKinsey is hard work and takes a significant amount of time.

For this reason, the question naturally arises during McKinsey interview preparation, if one and the same PEI examples can be re-used in another interview session. Be it in the same interview round, or in dfferent interview rounds (first or second, or any more interview rounds you might have due to your particular situation).

The answer is simply “No”. It just does not make sense.

But wait a moment – McKinsey never said explicitly that PEI examples should not be used twice!

Well – indeed there is no 100% clear official statement of McKinsey if candidates can use the same PEI example in different interviews. But there is a huge difference between explicitly telling it and if it’s a good idea to do so. +

And in a moment you will understand exactly why.

But let’s firstly look what McKinsey is saying in respect to sharing the same experience across multiple interviews:

Before the redesign of their website, McKinsey has published the following paragraph at http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/faqs/experienced_professionals concerning this topic:

McKinsey website screenshot

The paragraph above is left over to some interpretation. While McKinsey does not explicitly say to not repeat the same experience across multiple interviews, McKinsey clearly wants to get a good sense of you, your unique style and your skills. And, as mentioned explicitly, the more examples you provide, the better. 

For this reason it seems rather clear that it’s advisable to prepare and share multiple examples across interviews, and not the same one. Just in case that you really, really, really cannot find a second strong example for a particular PEI dimension, re-use the same example – but the additional insight and thus value of this PEI will be close to zero for McKinsey, at the same time clearly showing your lack of experience in a certain area.

Now, after having looked at what McKinsey is saying, let’s think on our own why it does not make sense to re-use the same PEI examples across different McKinsey interviews or interview rounds:

  • It does not add any value to your profile at McKinsey – repeating the same information to different interviewers is a waste of precious face-time to convince McKinsey about your skills and experience.
  • You communicate implicitly that you don’t have a lot of experience in those areas, if there is just one single situation you can talk about in one or more of your interviews.
  • Repeating the same example from your 1st interview round in your 2nd round of McKinsey interviews is an equally bad idea. What typically happens in the second round of the interviews is that they will try to better understand those aspects where you could not fully convince the interviewers in the first round. So the interviewers in the second round will bring up this aspect again – and in case that this was a specific PEI dimension, it is not very clever to tell the same example a second time if it was not convincing in the first place.

If I should not use the same McKinsey PEI examples at all – can I use the same situation for different PEI examples at least?

Generally speaking, it’s possible and in any case much better than using the same PEI example in different interviews. However, if you do have the choice, it is better to use different situations also for the different dimensions.

The interviewers will sit down together after the first round and discuss their impressions from each candidate. In case there is any slightest doubt whether or not he should be passed on to the second round, they will also discuss some more detailed aspects about which they are not 100% sure. In case this happens to be the PEI, each interviewer will probably briefly summarize your PEI and give his personal impression.

If now everyone of those 3 interviewers come up with the same or very similar example from you, it just sounds odd and will trigger additional doubts if this is the right candidate, if there was just one single basic situation which was used for all dimensions (questioning whether this candidate has the required experience McKinsey would like to see if there was obviously just one single situation that the candidate could talk about).

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