Fatal mistake #2 – The 3 most common fatal mistakes at the McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview) nearly every candidate makes

Fatal mistake #2: Not being specific enough and talking in far too general terms about your actions and decision-making rationale in your McKinsey PEI

As opposed to other, more general interview formats of other consulting companies or any other industry, the McKinsey PEI is focused on very specific situations. Following the PARADE framework mentioned earlier, it is perfectly ok to start with an overview about the problem, anticipated consequence and your role, but from then on your example needs to become very focused and detailed.

On a general, overview level it is hardly possible for the interviewer to understand your concrete action and decision-making rationale, and thus the very specific contribution you personally made. Only when going into the details of your action it is possible for the interviewer to understand your rationale and make a judgment whether or not your thought process and action is valid and transferable to other situations, which is of vital importance obviously.

After giving your interviewer the general context of your Personal Experience Interview example, it’s definitely time to dive deep. This is also reflected in the time for the general context vs. your actions and decision-making rationale. While the first is usually only 1-2 minutes, the latter is easily 10-12 minutes of PEI interview time!

Just to give you an idea on how specific the PEI can get, the interviewer might even ask something like „what exactly did you want to say in this situation, and which concrete words did you use?“. Especially when talking about the leadership and personal impact dimension, every single word and how you said it can matter and make a big difference in a difficult situation.

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