The McKinsey TEI (Technical Expertise Interview): how to prepare and ace it

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The McKinsey Technical Expertise Interview, in short TEI, is an interview format used for recruiting technical experts It focuses on specific areas of technical or domain expertise and evaluates a candidate’s expertise in a given field. It is used in the recruiting of analytics staff, designers, product engineers, agile coaches, programmers, etc.

Since McKinsey has significantly increased the variety and diversity of roles over the last couple of years, the TEI can be very different for different roles. It spans a wide range of potential evaluations such as coding tests and project discussions with product engineers, portfolio reviews with other designers, or discussions about coaching and agile methodologies with agile coaches.

In this article, I want to briefly highlight

  • What to expect for the McKinsey Technical Expertise Interview
  • How to prepare for the McKinsey TEI

The questions of McKinsey technical interview

Similar to the McKinsey PEI, the technical interview gauges a candidate’s abilities in a certain field and the interviewers will discuss specific situations in great detail.

For instance, you will be asked about a specific problem that you solved. Your interviewer wants to understand

  • the nature of the problem
  • how you approached it
  • what tools you used to solve it (e.g. Python, R, etc. for analytical roles, graphic design programs for graphic designers)

Again similar to the PEI, the focus is on you overcoming challenges to reach a certain outcome. To really understand the situation, your interviewers will go very deep by asking probing questions such as

  • What did you think in that situation?
  • What did you do next? Why?
  • Why did you chose X over Y?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What did you learn?

In this interview, you are not expected to be 100% familiar or proficient with all tools that are available for the job but rather demonstrate a deep understanding of the area, essential concepts, potential approaches, and solution spaces.

Similar to the McKinsey case interview, interviewers want to see how you think and approach problems and projects. It is not so much about the 100% correct solution but the capability to discuss and evaluate different ideas and options.

For different questions for different roles, check out the video that McKinsey provided.

How to prepare for the McKinsey TEI

Preparing for the TEI is similar to preparing for the PEI.

Pick two projects in the relevant domain from your resume that you can talk about in great detail. Make sure that at least one of the stories is from a business background

For each story, think about

  • the context and problem statement, highlighting that it was an important problem for you to solve
  • the challenges you faced, making you step out of your comfort zone
  • the innovative process, approach, and tools you chose and potentially changed along the way (be ready to defend your choices)
  • the successful outcome
  • the key learnings you generated and how those influenced future projects

Be prepared to go deeper into each of those buckets when prompted and expect a lot of ‘why’ questions. Talk about projects, which generated some impact or business value and could potentially be linked to dimensions of the PEI, such as leadership, personal impact, and entrepreneurial drive.

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