McKinsey PEI questions?

df86's picture
Rank: Chimp | 11


I had first rounds at McKinsey last week. Made it through but I think my PEI answers were the weak point. Although I knew that would go in depth I wasn't really prepared for how much and I had to spend way too much time thinking and trying to recall details.

I'd like to make a list of standard PEI type questions that I should work on strong answers for. So far I can think of:

-Tell me about a time you lead a team (through a conflict/to achieve and difficult goal/through a crisis)
-Tell me about a time you dealt with a conflict/crisis/difficult member/whatever on a team (difference between the first one being that here you don't necessarily have to be in a real leadership position, at least thatw as my interpretation)
-Tell me about a time when you failed at something
-Tell me about a time when you achieved a difficult goal (I take this one to be individual whereas the top one is team)
-Tell me about a time that you changed someone's mind
-Tell me about a time that you managed upwards
-Tell me about a time that you did something innovative

I get the feeling that McKinsey doesn't really go with things like 'what are your strengths/weaknesses?'. Their questions all seem to ask to discuss a specific scenario.

Anyone got any to add?


Comments (22)

Jan 28, 2012

Tell me about a time you taught someone a new technology to accomplish a task.

Tell me about a time you had to make a reccomendation without having all the facts.

Best Response
Jan 28, 2012

All of those questions are good to think about, but McKinsey only has three basic PEI questions:

1.) Tell me about a significant personal achievement

2.) Tell me about a time you changed someone's mind

3.) Tell me about a time you led others

The phrasing may be different but those are basically the three that you'll see.

The questions are meant to be broad, so you can choose what part of your past experiences you want to highlight. However, be warned that the answers are not expected to be "I succeeded because of A, B, and C - next question". You should have a fully developed narrative around each time of question, because your interviewer will pressure test your answers with additional questions along the lines of "what you were thinking at that point", "would you have chosen to do something with Individual X differently", "what were your next steps", etc.

    • 4
Jan 31, 2012

Is it bad to give the same example in two different interviews? Better to give the same strong example twice or a strong example and a slightly weaker example?

I assume that first vs second round it doesn't matter as the first round people probably don't participate in the second round decisions, but what about in the same round?

Feb 21, 2012

I just had my McKinsey final round and got an internship offer; I'd agree with Dimension's rundown of the questions. In terms of whether it is bad to give the same example in different interviews, I would say it isn't ideal but you can probably get away with it if they are extremely strong stories and you are overall quite good. I had three interviews in final round and in the third one, the interviewer actually said when giving me the PEI question something to the effect of "I know you may have used up your stories already so if need be it's okay for you to repeat one you used in a prior interview". I still ended up using a different story. I would say to prepare at least 3 stories in depth for final round. I used two of the same stories for first round and final round.

Feb 21, 2012

The approach I've recommended is, rather than coming up with answers to specific questions, identify the 3-5 experiences that you want to highlight in your interviews - and then master them. Interviewers will ask you very detailed / specific questions (e.g., "What did you say to help them understand?"), so you need to be prepared with the facts.

Most of your stories should work for 2, if not 3, of the questions listed above (e.g., significant accomplishments often involve leading others) - and if you can't spin it, you're probably in the wrong place anyways :)

Feb 22, 2012

I would like to refine Dominions answer, and distill his questions into what the interviewer wants to hear. McK is looking for two things:

  1. Personal Impact
  2. Leadership

All PEI questions revolve around these two dimensions (or a combination of both). Personal Impact is about changing people's minds, influencing group idea's, think 'political'. Leadership is about setting a direction and resolving conflict encountered when doing so (internal and external). The best way to convey your skills are indeed through narratives, in which you focus on your role (never say 'we did'/'we achieved'/etc). Use the STAR-method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Look it up.

Prepare several stories on the questions you identified yourself and 'bend' any PEI question towards one of these stories. For example: "Tell me about a time that you changed someone's mind" can be answered with any 'Personal Impact' story you prepared.

Actually, Dimension nailed it - the three things they're looking for are impact, influencing, and leadership. Influencing isn't a subset of impact. Remember, at McKinsey, important things always come in threes :)

    • 1
Jul 19, 2015

They do recruit at schools for the BA position, but only at a very select number of schools (much smaller than IB recruiting), even more selective for their internship.

Actually, from what I've heard their online app produces more interviews than IB's online apps. Still, chances are exponentially smaller than being at a target school and applying through OCR (ditto for Bain/BCG).

I interviewed with them, the process was pretty intense. You really need to rock the case, I felt that they put a greater emphasis on the case interview than the "fit" part than the other two. Their case was also more quantitative and required a good amount of mental math, so if you're good with numbers, you have an advantage. Also, they seemed to put more "pressure" on you during the interview, which I thought was somewhat off-putting. For example, in case interviews you're supposed to ask questions about the case in order to gather relevant information. The McKinsey interviewers were either tight-lipped or provided information only when you asked the exact question. Bain/BCG were more forgiving in that regard.

Still, the process wasn't markedly different than Bain/BCG. They gave out fewer offers, but I think it's because they're pre-MBA program is also smaller (as percent of total workers) and more spread out geographically.

Jul 19, 2015

I know there are 2 interviews : experience (fit), and case

are they held on the same day ?

and do they always ask about BUSINESS cases ? what if you are a Math or History major ?

Jul 19, 2015

I had 2 rounds. You have to pass the first round to get invited to the second one. Both involved fit and case. Small fit part, majority was case.

Yes, always business cases.

Jul 19, 2015

consultant 16180,

do you mind sharing your cases ?

Jul 19, 2015

at my school (this was for an internship), there was an exam followed by a group case session. and then if you stood out in those, you got invited to one on one interview which consisted of a case study.

Jul 19, 2015

are you at a target or non-target school? are you applying for an office where you have connection or where McKinsey recruits from at your school? what's your SAT or ACT or GMAT?

Just make sure your resume is perfect, talk with some people that make decisions or have input, and get to know a lot more about consulting and McKinsey as you network

Jul 19, 2015

As for prepping for the interviews, start with this thread:
Happy to help with interview prep.

I do not know how best to go about ensuring you get a 1st round analyst interview... maybe someone else can comment.

Jul 19, 2015


Target school where McKinsey recruits, GMAT in upper 600's.


Also thanks for the link vyger76 that looks helpful.

Colin Casey

Jul 19, 2015
Young Money:


...GMAT in upper 600's.

I would advise you not to list it on your resume.

In theory there's no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is

Jul 19, 2015

I have a dilemna. The interviews are about 8 weeks away so I feel as though I need to start preparing for the case studies soon, but if my GMAT is not good enough I won't even get an interview. My GMAT puts me in a better light than the SAT does, so is it time sensitive that I retake the GMAT within the next 2-3 weeks to get a higher score, just for the sake of getting an interview?


Colin Casey

Jul 19, 2015

don't list your GMAT

your 3.93 GPA would work

Jul 19, 2015