How to deal with case prompt ?

Case Interview
New answer on May 10, 2021
3 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 07, 2021

Hello, I am struggling with long prompts during interviews.

I. is it ok to ask the interviewer to repeat the prompt if we missed several information while taking notes ?

II. Should we summarize the prompt after the interviewer gives it (only main ideas) or repeat the prompt as it is with our words (this way we make sure that we didn’t miss something) ?

III. Do you have ideas how to take notes of the prompt please ?

Many thanks.

(edited)

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Ian
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updated an answer on May 07, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I. is it ok to ask the interviewer to repeat the prompt if we missed several information while taking notes ?

Yes but no. It's not good if you're consistently having to do this. This not ok as general occurance/habit. It means you're not taking effective notes.

That said, if, on ocassion, you miss one piece of information, you can ask to clarify. It is not good to have missed multiple pieces of information.

When you do ask, make sure you're being "smooth" with your questioning. Re-articulate the prompt, and insert your questions within. E.g. "Ok, so our client is x is and they need help with y. They currently have, sorry, how much Revenue was it? Thanks. So they have x revenue and y costs and they also need us to consider z"

II. Should we summarize the prompt after the interviewer gives it (only main ideas) or repeat the prompt as it is with our words (this way we make sure that we didn’t miss something) ?

Please synthesize the prompt in your own words, flagging only the key information that matters.

III. Do you have ideas how to take notes of the prompt please ?

1) Write in shorthand!

I.e. If I say "Your client is Bills Bottles. They earn $800M in profits each year by manufacturing bottles to soda companies in the US and Europe. Over the past two years they've seen profits falling and have brought you in to investigate"

You should write:

  • Bills Bottles
  • Manufacture
  • Client = soda comp
  • 800M P
  • P [down arrow] 2 yrs
  • US + Europe
  • Obj: Fix P

2) Have a place for things

Especially now that we are in a virtual world, you can prepare your sheet of paper beforehand. Write down the following as labels:

  • Client:
  • Product:
  • Revenues:
  • Profits:
  • Costs:
  • Objective: (Top of sheet)
  • Etc.

You can find some additional helpful Q&As here

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-on-capturing-key-points-of-a-case-prompt-during-a-case-interview-7033

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-take-good-notes-during-a-case-interview-7034

(edited)

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Allen
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replied on May 07, 2021
Ex-McK Experienced Hire and EM - I show you how to perform at your best

Yes, they are not testing your ability to hear everything, so definitely ask if you missed information, especially if it's a virtual interview. 100% you should be sure to do that.

However, it's likely that most of the notes you are taking are not important, if it's causing you to miss information. I find that candidates (students, especially, since they're used to memorizing details at school) try to record everything and 95% of the time, never look back at that information.

Hope that helps,

Allen

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Florian
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replied on May 10, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

1. Definitely. This is an important habit throughout the case.

  • Always ask if you did not understand something acoustically
  • Always clarify if something is unclear

2. Summarize the key bits of information and play it back in your own words. Pay special attention to the question, which sometimes might include 2 conflicting goals (specifically for McKinsey)

3. Sure!

  • Use bullet points
  • Use single words and symbols to write down key messages (e.g., ''the amount of aircraft sold has reduced in 2019'' --> 2019 aircraft ↓
  • Circle the key bits of information and the case question

Cheers,

Florian

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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