Many people only train on cases and neglect the personal experience part of the interview. Big mistake. It is as important as the case and will help the consultant determine a decisive question about your fit: ‘would I want to have this person on my team?’. The good news is that this part of the interview is more predictable than the case and thorough preparation will help you a great deal.
Contrary to common belief, the personal experience part of the interview is not a long monologue where you brag about your merits. This is not a bedtime story. What will happen is that you will be asked to give a very brief summary of the situation, after which a dialogue with the consultant will ensue. This dialogue will sometimes go into very small details such as what you did and how you felt at a certain points in time, what a certain person said to you, what their body language was like etc.
The part you can prepare is 2-fold:
The 1-2mn summary. Don’t reinvent the wheel and follow the STAR framework (Situation – Task – Action – Result). The situation, or context, should only be 3-4 sentences long, the result, only 1-2 sentences long. The bulk of the time shoud be spent on the tasks (a.k.a. challenges) and actions. Don’t forget to focus on your actions. Here is an example:
S: “During my senior year at university, I was elected captain of the rowing team”
T: “At the beginning of the year, as we started training, I observed 2 challenges: 1) some people were not following the training schedule and started to lag behind in terms of fitness level, and 2) we were facing a cash problem as the school had reduced our funding due to budget cuts”
A: “To solve the first challenge, I did 2 things: 1) I paired everybody up, mixing those who were consistently training and those who were not so as to motivate the latter to follow the schedule; 2) I built a tracker of all training performances such as rowing machine power output, max weights, max reps and updated each rower with their month-to-month progression. For the second challenge of cash shortage, I created a calendar featuring artistic pictures of the athletes and sold it in our school by visiting dorms door-to-door”
R: “With these initiatives, we soon reached an attendance level of over 95% to training sessions, saw record fitness progress for many of the athletes and raised over $10K for the club via the calendars”
The nitty-gritty details. For each challenge and actions, try to remember details such as names, conversations, reactions. They will be useful when the consultant will probe your story
What to know more! The ZeroToMBB book is now available and explains in great detail how to prepare for the experience interview, but also case interview, how to apply, build your resume, cover letter, and has a ton of examples and practice cases!