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How to be better at notetaking?

Anonymous A

Hi, all. At the initially stage when the interviewer state the problem statement, I try to jot down everything. However, most of the time I could not follow the interviewer and missed some information. I assumed that it is also not possible to just tell the interviewer to slow down. Anyone have a good suggestion?


Francesco replied on 11/07/2017
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1500+) | Ex BCG | 650+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

in order to better take notes initially, this is what I would recommend:

  1. Use abbreviations.Eg, for revenues use R, for costs use C, for increase use an arrow directed up, etc.
  2. Write down essential information only. You do not have time to write everything, thus you should exercise in writing down only the necessary information. If you have a client which produces steel which has four plants, with a revenue problem, your notes could be something as Steel producer, R (arrow down), 4 plants
  3. Keep different section in the paper for different pieces of information. My recommendation would be to divide the paper in 4 areas as reported below; when talking notes, you can then put the information in the appropriate box. Sometimes you would have to do back and forth, as you may get information, objective 1, additional information, objective 2, etc.
  • top-left: who is the client
  • bottom left: initial information
  • top right: objectives
  • bottom right: structure

It’s not ideal to ask the interviewer to slow down, although that’s better than missing key information; something you can definitely do is instead clarify the areas you feel you have not heard correctly when you repeat the initial information provided.

Hope this helps,


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