Hardly any questions asked during my McKinsey PEI – was it a bad example?

Short answer first: Probably that was not a bad sign – most likely even it was a good sign that your interviewer did not ask many questions during your McKinsey PEI.

More detailed answer

During your Personal Experience Interview, there are two major scenarios which can occur:

  1. Your interviewer is asking many questions along the way
  2. Your interviewer is asking hardly any questions

Let’s look into those two major scenarios in a bit more detail, to better understand what’s going on in your interviewer’s mind during the PEI.

Your interviewer is asking many questions along the way during your McKinsey PEI

Also if your interviewer is asking many question, that’s not necessarily a bad sign. Maybe it’s less of a good sign compared to the second major scenario, in which your interviewer is not asking many questions.

Typically, three different types of questions occur from the interviewer’s perspective during your McKinsey PEI:

General questions for better understanding

Since only you have really been in the respective situation of your PEI example, interviewers might have some general questions about the “Problem”, “Anticipated consequence” and “Role” (referring to the PARADE framework) for a better understanding of the context. This is necessary to immerse himself into the situation, for a more appropriate evaluation of your “Action” and “Decision-making rationale” later on in your example.

Needless to say, the better you frame the situation proactively from your side already, the less questions the interviewer will have to understand the context of your PEI example. The basic rule for preparing the appropriate amount of context information for your interviewer is as little context information as possible, as much as required.

As a rule of thumb, the context information is roughly 1-2 minutes of your total PEI time. Therefore, the focus is clearly on your actions and decision-making rationale, on which your interviewer will evaluate your PEI performance mainly.

Deep-dive questions

Deep-dive questions are occuring during the action and decision-making rationale part of your Personal Experience Interview. With those, your interviewer wants to clearly understand your detailed actions steps, and even more importantly your decision-making rationale.

In this part of your PEI, several follow-up questions are to be expected, like for example:

  • “How did you prepare for this situation?”
  • “What were your expectations beforehand?”
  • “What were you afraid of?”
  • “What did you think was the worst thing that could happen?”
  • “What exactly did you think at this point in time?”

Guiding questions

Finally, guiding questions are asked by your interviewer to redirect your PEI example to those areas for which he thinks that you can best show your skills and abilities he is looking for. Whereas during the case interview your interviewer’s role is also to act as a counterpart challenging your approach and ideas, during the PEI your interviewer’s role is much more to help you by guiding the conversation to those areas relevant for the PEI and your evaluation. For this reason, you should definitely follow this guidance and answer your interviewer’s questions in those areas, even though you might not have them prepared very well upfront. Just don’t make the mistake of trying to surpass your interviewer’s guiding question, just to continue with your example as you have prepared it upfront – it might not be exactly what the interviewer is interested in.


Questions for a) and b) are even expected to a certain degree, and for sure not a big deal and nothing to worry about. However, questions for c) are occurring in the case when your McKinsey PEI example does not progress as expected by the interviewer, and not showing your abilities for Leadership, Personal Impact or Entrepreneurial Drive.

In the latter case, your interviewer’s questions are not really a good sign. Basically, it means that whatever you prepared for your PEI and whatever you are telling, it’s just not exactly what the interviewer is interested in to evaluate your PEI. Up to this point, it’s still not a big issue and for sure nothing like a red flag for your interviewers. But it’s absolutely mission-critical to change pace and follow your interviewer’s guiding questions to discuss those areas in detail to which he is leading you!

Now that we understand the different types of questions your McKinsey interviewer might be asking during your Personal Experience Interview, we are finally ready to better understand what it means if your interviewer is asking hardly any questions.

Your interviewer is asking hardly any questions

To keep it short and simple: If your interviewer is asking hardly any questions, it usually means that your PEI was perfectly prepared and your interviewer could just let you talk without really interrupting you too much, since you are touching exactly on those topics he is interested to discuss with you anyway.

For this reason, it’s a good sign if your interviewer is asking hardly any questions during your PEI. What I can see as a clear pattern from my coaching candidates is that the better they have your PEI examples prepared, the less questions the interviewer is asking during the PEI. Obviously, the less questions he is asking, the more you can tell from your well-prepared and well-structured PEI example, which – of course – is much easier than coming up with strong and structured answers on the fly.

When looking even at my best performing coaching candidates, they all reported that during their PEI the interviewers just had a couple of general questions for their understanding and a couple of deep-dive questions. Mainly, they could simply walk through their examples together with the interviewer. And these candidates where exactly those who received their McKinsey offers directly after their first 3 interviews, without really having to go through the second round interviews. Instead, they just discussed the details of their McKinsey offer with a firm’s partner instead of doing more case interviews or PEIs!


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