Journaling while preparing

Actively preparing for interviews at McKinsey and BCG
New answer on Jul 06, 2020
6 Answers
asked on Jul 03, 2020

Hi there,

I have seen many people recommending having a journal while preparing cases and to write down the things that you didnt do well. Can someone give me a recommendation on what to write in that journal ? what level of details ? I find myself writing specific case detials while i beleive the objective is to be more generic. When i'm too generic, what I write seems basic (be more creative, think about the economy and not only the company, etc)


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Content Creator
replied on Jul 03, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Rafic,

It is indeed a good idea to write down the main mistakes you make in a document.

You should keep details of all the areas you could improve. Some examples include:

  • Initial structure
  • Graph interpretation
  • Math structure
  • Math mistakes
  • Conclusion
  • Communication

For each area, you may recognize your own mistakes or receive feedback by peers pointing out what you could improve. Ideally you want to find peers able to provide detailed and relevant feedback – the more detailed the better.

Hope this helps,

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raf on Jul 03, 2020

Thanks Francesco. I am doing a case about netflix closing DVD by mail service, and I focused on the customers but forgot about the warehouses, equipments, staff, the DVD's, etc. Where would this mistake fall under and what's the best takeaway here without falling into the trap of trying to memorise the answer

Francesco on Jul 03, 2020

Hi Rafic, the issue you had in that case was related to the structure. You should work on creating a better structure with first and second level able to be able to brainstorm the points you mentioned. Please PM me if you have more questions. Best

replied on Jul 03, 2020
FREE 1st session in November | From Lawyer to MBB | Top in FIT | 10x your structuring skills | Message to get Free Prep Checklist


I suggest that you should start using mind mapping tools (like Xmind) for structuring feedback from cases, different structures that you want to keep in mind as well as Fit questions/ answers.

This is how it works. XMind has five topic types:

Central Topic: Every map just has one central topic, which is built automatically with the map. You can call it’s “consulting prep”.

Main Topic: Main Topics are the first level around the Central Topic. You can note the direct ideas here. In your case you can call them Cases, Fit, other

Subtopic: Subtopics are added to main topics and main floating topics. You can record the details about ideas as this. So for cases you can have the following subtopics: structures, analytics/ maths, recommendations. And then you can map all other ideas and feedback against each of your subtopics.



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jul 03, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Rafic,

Absolutely agree - the specifics of a case documented might help you to remember the circumstances/scenario in which an issue occured. But you need to derive the root cause of that and have a clear picture of those to tackle!

Good basic framework I oftenly use for my candidates - just to cover the basics, even though my feedback in coachings goes far beyond that and takes usually way longer than the case itself:

  1. Planning and Logic
    1. Candidate had a plan to tackle the case
    2. The plan was MECE
    3. Trusted the plan and referred to it regularly
  2. Communication and Composure
    1. Candidate was calm and collected
    2. Good discussion on topics
    3. Candidate was driving the case
  3. Analytics
    1. Good data analysis piece-by-piece
    2. Good integration of data into overall picture and derived good insights
  4. Recommendation
    1. Final recommendiation to the point, top-down, data-driven and specific
    2. Persuasive wrap-up communications, trusting own analysis

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!



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Content Creator
replied on Jul 06, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


I would not try to leverage a recipie here, but better think of what would be the best tool for you to keep track of your key learnings.

For me, for example, would be an Excel with different tabs and a summary, but this is very personal!

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Jul 06, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep


So, the first thing is: It's very very hard to evaluate yourself.

Ideally when you case with other preploungers or a coach, they are the ones providing this feedback. Then, you make sure to save it and/or reformat it to review later.

Personally, when reviewing canditates, I lay out my feedback like in the image below, specifically. I include a final "Summary" page of all pros/cons, which is the general feedback to which you're referring.

Of course, I do this across the key criteria of:

  • Structure
  • Judgement/Insights
  • Creativity
  • Math/Quantitative
  • Case leadership (hypothesis-driven)
  • Synthesis
  • Presence
  • Communication
  • etc.

Form example, there could be 3 instances where math was a problem. I would write down all 3 instances according to where they occured in the case...this would be specific. In my summary page, I would write down, in general, what was wrong with the math (i.e. forgot numbers, didn't do math properly, need to understand context of numbers, ask to round, etc.)

Pros Cons List Case Interview

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Anonymous replied on Jul 03, 2020

Dear Rafic,

Actually ou can put there as a bullet points anything that you think valuable and help you better reflect on your preparation:

- your reflections

- ideas

-feedback from your partner or coach

Hope, it helps,


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Francesco gave the best answer


Content Creator
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