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

Having too little structure in how exactly you made your decisions and showing a lack of self-reflection in your McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview)

The key issue for the interviewer is to understand whether your success in one situation can be repeated in another situation. Therefore it is critical for the interviewer to understand the concrete thought process (a.k.a. „decision-making rationale“ in the PARADE framework).

You need to show a deep self-reflection for each step you took. You need to be able to explain every single decision in the whole thought-process – which options you had, which you chose and why you acted this way as opposed to another way.

To put it in a slightly exaggerated way: No action without decision-making rationale in your Personal Experience Interview, when you talk the interviewer step-by-step through your example.

Referring to the PARADE framework, the “Action” and “Decision-making rationale” will therefore be an iterative sequence in an A-D-A-D-A-D-A-D … format. So when you walk your McKinsey interviewer through your PEI example, you will always explain each action step and the according rationale.

Reversing “Action” and “Decision-making rationale” in your PEI example

In some cases you might even want to reverse this sequence and start firstly with your decision-making rationale. You can do so easily by firstly laying out all the options (like in a pyramid or issue tree structure) which you had in a given situation, then explaining the pros and cons of each of those options, and finally deciding for one of those options and only then come to the “Action” part (i.e. which of those options you really chose and took action upon).

However, this reversed approach (firstly “Decision-making rationale”, followed by your “Action”) should not be used too oftenly, because it can look a little bit too engineered and constructed, and not really authentic. So use this reversed approach of “Decision-making rationale” and “Action” only in those situations within your PEI example when it’s really a fundamental and critical decision which you need to make – and thus justifies a highly structured and clear approach of coming to this decision.

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