Why do so many candidates fail in the McKinsey PEI?

The answer to this question boils down to 2 aspects:

  1. McKinsey does not release a lot of information concerning the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview (PEI).
  2. Virtually all candidates underestimate this part of their McKinsey interviews.


At least you have the opportunity to influence one of those two aspects – which is obviously the second one. So let’s better understand the underlying reasons in more detail why virtually all candidates underestimate the PEI in their McKinsey interview prep:

  1. McKinsey does not officially release any specific (evaluation) criteria concerning the PEI – thus candidates don’t even know exactly which examples they should you for which PEI dimension, let alone where to put the focus on within those examples. Consequently, their examples are way off from what McKinsey interviewers expect and want to hear from you. Make sure you have accurate and detailed information at hand to correctly choose your PEI examples in the first place, and to focus on the correct aspects for each dimension.
  2. The bar is high to getting one of the rare McKinsey offers generally, and for successfully passing the PEI specifically. Despite McKinsey releases hardly any information, you are nevertheless expected to deliver an outstanding performance. Make sure you are going the extra mile also for your PEI prep (and not only for your case interview prep).
  3. Candidates might at least understand McKinsey’s general underlying idea of the PEI. However, virtually all candidates underestimate how detailed and specific the PEI will be in the “Actions” and “Decision-making rationale” part, get caught by surprise once they are sitting in their real interviews – and needless to say – have big troubles coming up with structured actions and decision-making rationale on the fly. Make sure you are running through a realistic, challenging mock interview upfront with someone who is an experienced interviewer and understands what the PEI is all about.
  4. Many candidates just don’t understand the underlying concept of the PEI, and that it has nothing in common with some of the much more general CV-related discussions you might have during interviews with other consulting firms. Make sure you really understand the underlying idea and concept of the PEI, to set up your whole prep process accordingly.


You can find much more information about how to perfectly prepare your McKinsey PEI in The Ultimate McKinsey PEI Prep eBook!

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