How to prepare for the new McKinsey PEI prompts “Embracing Change” or “Courageous Change” and “Values and Purpose”?

Currently McKinsey is testing 2 specific new Personal Experience Interview dimensions, which are

  • Embracing Change or Courageous Change, and
  • Values & Purpose.

Those 2 PEI dimensions are for the moment only tested in North American offices, although not consistently across all offices and not across all candidates. And since those are 2 brand new PEI dimensions, many candidates ask me in my 1:1 coaching sessions how to approach them, and we typically work through the exact McKinsey requirements and expectations for those 2 dimensions, as well as drafting the storyline for indiviual PEI stories to ensure that they resonate well with the interviewer.

However many candidates are not sure in the first place whether or not those 2 new PEI dimensions will be part of their recruiting process or not. Whenever in doubt, the best solution is reaching out to your McKinsey recruiting contact and politely ask whether those 2 dimensions will be part of your McKinsey PEI. Preferably reach out via phone and not via email – it’s always better to be in direct contact and having a chance to listen between the lines. And don’t by shy to contact them – firstly, it’s one of their key tasks to support candidates along their recruiting process in the best possible way, and secondly it has no impact at all on your evaluation as the administrative aspect is completely separated from the evaluation. So you only have an upside, and no downside – at least it’s worth a try.

In case you are not absolutely certain, the obvious thing to do is preparing for those 2 new dimensions. So let’s look into those 2 dimensions in a bit more detail.

McKinsey PEI Embracing Change prompt

CEOs across the globe pay a heck lot of money to bring in McKinsey and running a project with them. And it’s quite unlikely that they spend that much money, and at the end leave everything the same as it was before – not gonna happen (and think how to justify the huge paychecks if there is not actionable change upon that). In short: not that surprising, McKinsey typically brings quite some change to client organizations.

Even though you as a McKinsey consultant are (of course) not directly affected by the change in the client organization, managing change and dealing with its consequences is a crucial part in projects. In order to better understand what the client staff goes through on a factual and emotional level in such a phase, it’s fair to say that having had such an experience yourself helps a lot … especially when McKinsey’s purpose is stated as “To help create positive, enduring change in the world” on their website.

That’s why McKinsey decided to bring in a new Personal Experience Interview dimension to test candidates on their skills of dealing with change. Also in the light of undergoing massive change on an ever increasing pace (think covid pandemic, shift to remote work and social isolation, war in Europe, … you name it), dealing with change becomes an increasingly important skill to successfully survive and thrive in those turbulent times.

This new dimension is supposed to replace the classical  Entrepreneurial Drive dimension in the middle to long term, for now being used in parallel – and indeed some similarities exist between those 2 dimensions, mainly on how to correctly frame and introduce your story to the interviewer, while the details for deep-dive are of course highly specific to the Embracing Change topic.

The main topics to be discussed in this new PEI dimension are how you successfully navigated your situation of change, and why it was a challenging time for you. A strong focus will be especially on the social, interpersonal skill side in how you dealt with change and how you supported others in doing so, as opposed to sticking with the good old way. Obviously those are just broad pointers of what McKinsey is looking for – in my coaching sessions we will cover those aspects in much more detail and develop a strong storyline for your personal change experience together.

McKinsey PEI Values and Purpose prompt

Although it’s more speculation and we will never find out in detail, it seems to be that under the light of regular scandals around the McKinsey brand, McKinsey proactively wants to make the topic of values & purpose part of the recruiting process. In the worst case we can look at this as a politically motivated move to publicly demonstrate a strong focus on that topic; in the best case it will attract less candidates prone to being part of scandals.

While the “Embracing Change” dimension is supposed to replace “Entrepreneurial Drive”, the “Values and Purpose” dimension will come as an additional new dimension on top the other ones.

The main topics to be discussed in this new section is your personal experience with values and purpose, and how that is aligned with what McKinsey is looking for. Practically speaking, the values and purpose (and mission) on the official McKinsey website are an excellent starting point for finding appropriate aspects for your own McKinsey PEI story:

  • “Improve our clients’ performance significantly”
  • “Adhere to the highest professional standards”
  • “Create an unrivaled environment for exceptional people”

Obviously we will work through of what McKinsey is looking for really and how to set up a strong story for this dimension in much more detail during my coaching sessions, but for now this general advice should lead you into the right direction as a starter.

Looking for some 1:1 McKinsey PEI Coaching? Click here!