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Every interview at McKinsey will start off with questions relating to your personal experience. This is referred to as PEI (Personal Experience Interview). Your personal impact skills are what enable you to promote your vision and persuade a client to organize and operate their business in a certain way. The PEI questions represent an opportunity for you to present your key performance skills and showcase your own personal accomplishments and achievements. This document aims to support you in preparing your story and making a convincing impression.

The Purpose of the Personal Experience Interview

The purpose of the PEI is to assess a number of fundamental traits and measure the candidate’s personal abilities. Your personal abilities are not adequately represented on your CV, and the PEI represents an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your personal skills and traits.

What Traits Are Being Assessed?

A list of the core traits the interviewer will be looking for and assessing are available on the McKinsey Career Page and include:

  • Entrepreneurial drive
  • Leadership
  • Personal Impact
  • Problem Solving
  • Informed Assessments

How Is The PEI Administered?

The McKinsey strategy to measure and assess personal experience has been designed to be measured over a number of interviews by different individuals, rather than measure all the traits in one particular sitting. This means that every interview will include a 10-minute slot in which certain aspects of your CV will be discussed. This means that you will be assessed by different recruiters and the assessment of each trait is approached independently.

Each interview will focus on only assessing one trait and the interviewer's questions will be directed to that specific trait. You will be asked a question which you will answer with reference to personal experience. You will not be expected to fill the time slot only presenting your personal experience. In this time, the interviewer will follow up with other questions to better understand and assess the story and experience you are sharing.

The interview questions will always be different

The assessment is done across a number of interviews and by different recruiters, therefore it is guaranteed that you will not be asked the same questions. The questions you will be asked will focus on a single and specific trait.

Example Questions:

  • Tell me about the most significant accomplishment of your career.
  • Tell me about a time you convinced a colleague to consider and agree to an alternative approach.

Preparing Your Answers

The easiest way for you to present your answer is to narrate the interviewer a story. The story must be structured and prepared in a way that presents your abilities. Another key factor is that your story needs to stand out. Interviewers are seeing a number of consultants and the uniqueness you bring to the interview just as important as the trait being assessed. As there are 5 different traits which are being assessed through PEI, you will need to prepare 5 different stories, each focusing on a particular trait.

Your story must be structured and remember to keep the story simple. Implementing a structure to prepare your answer also makes it easier for you to remember your answers. A structure should include:

  • The context of the situation
  • The problem you were facing
  • What was the solution you came up with
  • The impact your solution had on the problem
  • What did you learn from the situation?

There are a number of suggested structures you can use when preparing your answer. Take time to consider the structures and find the one that you are most comfortable with. An example of another structure you can use is the PARADE method (Source:

  • P roblem
  • A nticipated Consequence
  • R ole A ction
  • D ecision-Making Rationale
  • E nd-Result

Things To Remember 

  • Pace yourself, do not rush but do not waste time dwelling on point of your structure • Your answers must be logical and precise
  • Do not waste time on unnecessary information
  • Your answer must always address how you approached the problem, how you found a solution and what you took from the scenario.
  • Keep the recruiter interested and engaged in your answer. This represents an essential way to stand out.
  • The personal impact should consistently describe the approach and technique you used to convince the other person and tell your story from both a strategic and operational perspective. The success of your answer is not about only the end result, but rather steps take to achieve that result.
  • Be honest. If it took you a week to convince the other person, then add the timeline to your story. This is not about how quickly you did it but rather the approach and planning that went into it.
  • Keep your personal impact story focused on an individual. When you start describing a third party or group, it gets more difficult to be detailed and explain strategy and specific planning.
  • Be thorough and specific but focus on the core parts of the strategy, planning, and solution.
  • Less is more so choose the content of your story carefully.

Preparation is key

This is not about not only about sharing your success story but rather about sharing your journey. Your story should help the other person understand your vision, the challenges, the outcome and most importantly, how you included the experiences into your personal success toolkit. Take the time to understand, plan, practice and take informed steps into your career in consulting.

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