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Bring notes to an interview?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 12, 2018 - 6 answers

One of my classmates said, "It would look professional in any other interview setting to have notes prepared...on the prospective company"; perhaps questions you would like to ask or reminders of things to mention in the interview.

Can you bring any notes into a case interview? Would it be so bad to have an interviewer ask you to put them away?

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replied on Sep 12, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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The simple answer is no.

updated his answer on Sep 13, 2018
Experienced strategy consultant, now running own consulting business
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OK, this may be a German thing. But I totally disagree with the other experts.

For any important meeting, you would prepare, take some notes, and take them with you, just in case you want to look something up, confirm something, or just get momentarily stuck. Why not an interview?

I can't see anything wrong and certainly wouldn't hold it against a candidate if they brought a page with some questions they want to ask, maybe some key facts about the firm. Some firms share names of the interviewers before the interview, maybe look them up on LinkedIn. Don't create stalker-style profiles, but some key facts like Alma Mater, interesting previous jobs, tenure with the company...

To the contrary, I would view it as a plus if an interviewer is well prepared (if he or she is not too anal about it) - because that is what I would expect a consultant on my team to do!

It would probably be a bit much to bring case specific things, like a framework cheat sheet, or some figures that seem important.

But other than that, where's the problem?

But again, this may be a German thing. We also have a saying "Wer schreibt, der bleibt." You can look that up ;-)


Anonymous B replied on Oct 26, 2019

A bit late to answer, but I'd like to mention a certain situation where I brought notes to the first round interviews at BCG and did not feel that it made a negative impression at all (well, I got rejected, but they did not mention anything about it at the feedback and even encouraged me to reapply after 1 year). Also, please note that I'm German, so - as Elias said - please take this with a grain of salt ;)

Before the interview day, HR sent every applicant some facts about the interviewers who would be with us that day. The introduction sheets contained some data about their CVs, their position, how long they have been there, what they like at BCG as well as a quote.

To be honest, it was hard to remember all facts of everybody's introduction sheets, given that there were 8-10 interviewers and I would have 2 in the first round. Therefore, I noted the most interesting point on each interviewer's sheet and wrote a personal question next to it (for example: "Hey, that's a very interesting quote you have written here, could you tell me if this applies in your everyday life at BCG as well?" or "Oh, you've also been in the US during your studies, like me. I've noticed some major differences between the educational system in the US and in Germany, so I'd really like your opinion on which system is the best and which has helped you more towards your career at BCG..."). I took the sheets with me and during the last 5 minutes in the Q&A, I read the question from the interviewer's introduction sheet.

Generally, I don't think it's bad to write down questions you would like to ask after the case during the last 5 minutes. To me it does not appear unprofessional at all, it could definitely be the case that there is an aspect you would like to know more about and you're afraid that you could forget to ask at the end.

However (although it might be obvious), I would NOT recommend to take notes with you with answers to potential fit questions or, even worse, with case structures!!! Not only would it appear unprofessional, but it would count as cheating as well.

Benjamin replied on Sep 13, 2018
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as ATK I would say no as well :)

replied on Sep 13, 2018
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McK (Vlad) said No, Bain (Alessandro) said No... let me confirm for BCG... no as well :)

replied on Sep 13, 2018
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It looks completely unprofessional if you can't remember the key things about your dream job.


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