If you’ve been asked to go through the TEI interview, or Technical Experience Interview, at McKinsey, you’ve got some work to do! The TEI is intended to measure your mix of technical and storytelling skills in the context of projects you’ve completed or experiences you’ve had. The goal is to give the firm a sense for the applicability of your skillset to the types of work required in technical roles at McKinsey. Read on for a deep dive into the TEI interview, including how it differs from a case interview and specific TEI interview questions you need to prepare for.
What is the TEI Interview?
The TEI interview is like the McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview), except it’s a deep dive into one specific technical experience from your resume. Similar to the PEI, the interview is based off legal interrogation methods – one initial question followed up 15-20 follow-up questions. This style of questioning will catch you off guard if you’re not prepared for it – it means that you have to be prepared to tell 15-20 stories about one experience.
From McKinsey’s perspective, the point of the TEI interview is not so much to ensure you understand specific techniques/tools, but to ensure you are a good fit for the position by gaining an understanding of your perspective of the technical problems you’ve worked on in the past.
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How is TEI Different Than a Case Interview?
To land a job at a management or strategy consulting firm in a traditional role, a lot of emphasis is placed on the case interview. Depending on the role, you may or not have to navigate the case interview.
Regardless, the TEI interview is different from a case interview in that it doesn’t test your problem-solving, logical, or communication skills in a simulated setting. Instead of asking you to solve an ambiguous problem you won’t be familiar with, the TEI will require you to communicate how you’ve solved a real-world ambiguous problem in the past.
Keep in mind that TEI interviews take place in the context of interviewing for a technical role at McKinsey. Not everyone will face one. However, the one critical difference between the two interviews actually works to your advantage. In a case interview, you have no idea what the case will be about until you are in the interview. But in a TEI interview, you will be asked about actual experiences and projects you have been on, what you did, and the results you achieved.
As such, prepare stories on a range of specific situations in advance and be ready to use them. If you need help developing and delivering your stories, work with one of our ex-McKinsey coaches.
TEI Interview Questions
TEI interview questions start high-level – you can expect an opening prompt like, “Describe a technical project that you worked on in your last position.” Then, expect specific follow-ups about particular analytical tools or approaches you used. Here are examples of some common TEI interview questions:
- Describe a situation where you had an opinion about how to approach a technical problem, and no one seemed to agree with you. What did you do?
- Can you tell me about your experience managing SQL requests?
- Tell me about how you’ve used skills in Python programming and data architecture to solve a business problem?
- What are the types of industries in which you’ve applied data science approaches? Where did they work most effectively?
Regardless of the project you choose to let the interviewer probe into, be sure to drive every answer you gave towards the business impact you drove.
What Does TEI Interview Prep Look Like?
TEI interview prep can best be described as a mix of technical and behavioral interview prep. Here’s where you should begin your TEI interview prep.
First, brush up on the ins and outs of the technical requirements for the job you’re applying for. Ensure you can comfortably discuss any tool or technique referenced on your resume or in the job description.
Second, think about how you would prepare for a typical behavioral interview, which is all about using stories from past experiences to demonstrate why you are a great fit for the role. That’s really what is going on in a TEI interview, just through a technical lens.
Prepare at least 15 stories from across your experience that you’ll use to address questions in various areas. Receive a question about Python programming or SQL requests? You could answer with a story about a time you worked with X company on X project and achieved X impact/results. When possible, use numbers to convey the specific impact you achieved.
When preparing stories, keep the STAR method in mind. It’s an acronym that reminds you to start by explaining the Situation, then discussing the Task you were responsible for, then explaining how you took Action, and finally, what the Results were of the actions you took.
The TEI interview is a unique blend of technical and behavioral interviews that you’ll have to navigate in order to land a technical role at McKinsey. To succeed, prepare stories that relate to specific technical experiences (ex: writing code) and broader questions (ex: “describe a technical problem you recently solved”). Your goal is to be crystal clear about the situation and the value you added. For help preparing for the McKinsey TEI, work with an ex-McKinsey coach on interview prep today!
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