Even though McKinsey interviewers can ask about the three dimensions in countless ways, in around 80% of interviews the Personal Experience Interview questions are rather basic and straight-forward. However, sometimes the interviewer will make the one or the other twist to make it a bit more difficult for you to answer.
How many McKinsey PEI questions will I get?
A fair assumption for you to make is that each interviewer will ask for a different dimension in each of your interview slots.
Depending on the specific McKinsey office, you will sometimes even get your exact schedule and sequence of PEI dimensions in your information package from McKinsey well before your interview day. Sometimes you won’t get any information about the sequence of your PEI dimensions at all before your interviews. But no need to worry nevertheless – with a few insider tricks which I teach my coaching candidates it’s indeed very simple to understand the exact PEI dimension your interviewer is looking for, and we also cover many more sample questions as also available in The Ultimate McKinsey PEI Prep eBook.
Is it the same for experienced hires?
In short: The more experienced you have, the more specific PEI questions become.
If you already have quite some experience under your belt, chances are that a few bullet points from your CV will catch your interviewer’s eye, assuming that there might have been an interesting situation fitting to a particular PEI dimension.
Just in case that the interviewer’s assumption was completely wrong and some information of your CV might look like an interesting PEI example but in reality was not, of course feel free to let the interviewer know about it, instead of force-fitting a situation into a particular PEI dimension.
Ideally, at the same time you can already suggest a similar PEI example to your interviewer to make it easier for him to accept an alternative to his original request (and ideally it’s an example you already prepared in advance).
What are the most typical McKinsey PEI questions?
Obviously this depends on the specific PEI dimension. So let’s look at that question for each dimension separately.
- „Can you think of a situation where you led a team through a difficult situation / conflict / crisis when you still needed to achieve an important goal together?“
- „Please tell me about a situation in which you needed to influence several team members in a difficult situation.“
- „Was there any situation in which you had to lead and navigate a team through a difficult situation?“
- „Please tell me about a situation when you needed to change someone’s mind.”
- „Can you remember a specific situation when you managed upwards?” (Please note the subtle difference here – influencing people higher in the hierarchy than yourself needs even more sophistication how to actually do this)
- „Tell me about a time you had to make a recommendation without having all the facts.”
- „Please tell me about a time when you achieved a difficult goal.”
- „Can you remember a time when you (nearly) failed at accomplishing a task.”
- „Can you think of a situation with a significant personal achievement?”
So far a few sample questions to give you a good idea in which direction the questions will be heading.
In the next emails we will cover a couple of frequently asked questions from my personal coaching sessions. Since they come up again and again, I thought it’s also a good idea to cover them here!