Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
expert
Expert with best answer

Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

392 Meetings

8,095 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

5

Links to be best notetaking resources?

My notetaking is poor. I often get lost in my numbers and have trouble getting all the pieces of information in the initial section. What are the best notetaking guides that you have seen?

My notetaking is poor. I often get lost in my numbers and have trouble getting all the pieces of information in the initial section. What are the best notetaking guides that you have seen?

5 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

392 Meetings

8,095 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

Hi,

Several things here:

  1. If you don't have enough time, it is always fine to ask the interviewer in a polite manner to repeat what he just said. Basically, you have no choice.
  2. Another way is to increase the speed of taking the notes. Use acronyms, and practice to write short descriptions.
  3. Make a recap - usually, I recommend making a recap after asking clarifying questions, but in your case, it may be beneficial to make a recap right in the beginning. "Do I Understand correctly that..."

There are some questions that you should always try to ask in addition to what he told you:

1) You can also ask the interviewer to tell you more about the business model and how the company generates money. Even if you think you understand it, try to repeat it to make sure that you understand it correctly. e.g. if the case is about oil&gas company which revenues are declining, ask if it is Up / mid / down-stream problem. In this case, defining a revenue stream is critical to setting up the right structure.

2) Clarify the objective. Here make sure that your goal is:

  • Measurable
  • Has a time-framed
  • Has / has no limitations

e.g. Should I invest 100k in this business for 1 year if I want to get 15% return?

Note-taking tips:

Split the main sheet into 2 parts and then the left part into 2 quadrants:

  • Upper left - initial information given at the beginning of the interview and while asking clarifying questions
  • Lower left - Your objective. The objective should be measurable and should have a timeline
  • Right part - Your structure and the whole case flow

Also, a good practice is to put the key numbers near the corresponding buckets.

! Have a separate sheet for math calculations !

Best!

Hi,

Several things here:

  1. If you don't have enough time, it is always fine to ask the interviewer in a polite manner to repeat what he just said. Basically, you have no choice.
  2. Another way is to increase the speed of taking the notes. Use acronyms, and practice to write short descriptions.
  3. Make a recap - usually, I recommend making a recap after asking clarifying questions, but in your case, it may be beneficial to make a recap right in the beginning. "Do I Understand correctly that..."

There are some questions that you should always try to ask in addition to what he told you:

1) You can also ask the interviewer to tell you more about the business model and how the company generates money. Even if you think you understand it, try to repeat it to make sure that you understand it correctly. e.g. if the case is about oil&gas company which revenues are declining, ask if it is Up / mid / down-stream problem. In this case, defining a revenue stream is critical to setting up the right structure.

2) Clarify the objective. Here make sure that your goal is:

  • Measurable
  • Has a time-framed
  • Has / has no limitations

e.g. Should I invest 100k in this business for 1 year if I want to get 15% return?

Note-taking tips:

Split the main sheet into 2 parts and then the left part into 2 quadrants:

  • Upper left - initial information given at the beginning of the interview and while asking clarifying questions
  • Lower left - Your objective. The objective should be measurable and should have a timeline
  • Right part - Your structure and the whole case flow

Also, a good practice is to put the key numbers near the corresponding buckets.

! Have a separate sheet for math calculations !

Best!

Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

3,052 Meetings

7,786 Q&A Upvotes

USD 429 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

in order to write better notes, my recommendation is to divide the paper into 4 areas as reported below for the first page; when taking notes, you can then put the information in the appropriate box. Sometimes you would have to go 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

The vertical line should be closer to the left border and the horizontal line should be closer to the top border, so that there is more space for the structure.

After the first page, you can still divide the page into four parts. Left and right could now be at the same distance.

  • top-left: name of the first area analysed
  • bottom left: structure for the first area
  • top right: name of the second area analysed
  • bottom right: structure for the second area

Besides that, you can also improve your notes with the following:

  • Ask the interviewer to repeat in case you missed information. It is better to ask for missing information upfront rather than later
  • Do a recap after the prompt. This ensures you took notes correctly since the interviewer will correct you otherwise
  • Use abbreviations. Eg, for revenues use R, for costs use C, for increase use an arrow directed up, etc.
  • 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 that produces steel which has four plants, with a revenue problem, your notes could be something as Steel producer, R (arrow down), 4 plants

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

in order to write better notes, my recommendation is to divide the paper into 4 areas as reported below for the first page; when taking notes, you can then put the information in the appropriate box. Sometimes you would have to go 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

The vertical line should be closer to the left border and the horizontal line should be closer to the top border, so that there is more space for the structure.

After the first page, you can still divide the page into four parts. Left and right could now be at the same distance.

  • top-left: name of the first area analysed
  • bottom left: structure for the first area
  • top right: name of the second area analysed
  • bottom right: structure for the second area

Besides that, you can also improve your notes with the following:

  • Ask the interviewer to repeat in case you missed information. It is better to ask for missing information upfront rather than later
  • Do a recap after the prompt. This ensures you took notes correctly since the interviewer will correct you otherwise
  • Use abbreviations. Eg, for revenues use R, for costs use C, for increase use an arrow directed up, etc.
  • 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 that produces steel which has four plants, with a revenue problem, your notes could be something as Steel producer, R (arrow down), 4 plants

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

283 Meetings

1,374 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

Keep it simple:

- First, I suggest breaking down the page into pre-defined sections so you know what is where

- Personally, I like to have a thin band on the right where I save the recommendations (on the top) and parking lot suggestions (on the bottom - I'll use this at the end for next steps); in the rest of the page, I write the problem statement at the top, my structure just below, and any note / calculation in the rest of the page; I'll also put any significant findings in a box so my eyes are drawn to it during my conclusion if needed

- Ultimately, which method you use doesn't matter as long as it works for you + use it the same way every time

- In terms of pure note taking, there's no trick. Remember to jot down the main numbers / trends / objectives, but otherwise it is mostly a matter of practicing taking these notes quickly while the interviewer is talking

- If you feel like you may have missed something, make sure to ask. The best way to fail a case is to address the wrong problem

Keep it simple:

- First, I suggest breaking down the page into pre-defined sections so you know what is where

- Personally, I like to have a thin band on the right where I save the recommendations (on the top) and parking lot suggestions (on the bottom - I'll use this at the end for next steps); in the rest of the page, I write the problem statement at the top, my structure just below, and any note / calculation in the rest of the page; I'll also put any significant findings in a box so my eyes are drawn to it during my conclusion if needed

- Ultimately, which method you use doesn't matter as long as it works for you + use it the same way every time

- In terms of pure note taking, there's no trick. Remember to jot down the main numbers / trends / objectives, but otherwise it is mostly a matter of practicing taking these notes quickly while the interviewer is talking

- If you feel like you may have missed something, make sure to ask. The best way to fail a case is to address the wrong problem

Book a coaching with Henning

100% Recommendation Rate

34 Meetings

1,488 Q&A Upvotes

USD 149 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous!

The system that has worked well for me is this:

  • Take a sheet of paper in landscape and use the leftmost 8-10cm column for the initial notes. Only not down the absolute key facts and practice to leave out the clutter.
  • Then use the top row of the righ part of the page to write the actual question of the case. Note that this is not necessarily what the interviewer has said verbatim. You'll need to ask some clarifiying questions to get to the key question.
  • Underneath the question, you have room for your framework. Use a large font size to write down the key blocks. Leave the page empty after that.
  • Once you have fully exhausted any branch of your framework, note down the key insight under the respective part of the framework.
  • Keep this sheet as your master record of your progress through the case and have separate sheets for other scrubbeling, math notes, etc.
  • Note taking during case interview

Hi Anonymous!

The system that has worked well for me is this:

  • Take a sheet of paper in landscape and use the leftmost 8-10cm column for the initial notes. Only not down the absolute key facts and practice to leave out the clutter.
  • Then use the top row of the righ part of the page to write the actual question of the case. Note that this is not necessarily what the interviewer has said verbatim. You'll need to ask some clarifiying questions to get to the key question.
  • Underneath the question, you have room for your framework. Use a large font size to write down the key blocks. Leave the page empty after that.
  • Once you have fully exhausted any branch of your framework, note down the key insight under the respective part of the framework.
  • Keep this sheet as your master record of your progress through the case and have separate sheets for other scrubbeling, math notes, etc.
  • Note taking during case interview

(edited)

Dear A,

Below some general rules on how you can take notes:

  • The datasheet is where you note down neatly and ideally, in a table format all information, data, provided by the interviewer throughout the case. If you have additional data as the result of analyses or calculations performed, put them into the datasheet too.

  • The presentation sheet is literally what you use when speaking to interviewers. For example, if you say: “… problem A can be broken down into B and C”, literally draw those on this sheet and point to each one as you speak.

  • Lastly, the scratch paper is there for anything else you need to write out in interviews’ brainstorm ideas, calculations, etc. The purpose of this sheet is to make the other two clear and neat. So you don’t have to worry too much about what you write here on this scratch paper.

Write down all the important information. You can use abbreviations.

  • Client name

  • Industry

  • Geography

  • Current situation

  • Goal/objective:

And for your analysis put the name of the area you supposed to analyzed and it structure

  • Name of the first area analyzed

  • Structure for the first area

  • Name of the second area analyzed

  • Structure for the second area

Hope it helps,

Best,

André

Dear A,

Below some general rules on how you can take notes:

  • The datasheet is where you note down neatly and ideally, in a table format all information, data, provided by the interviewer throughout the case. If you have additional data as the result of analyses or calculations performed, put them into the datasheet too.

  • The presentation sheet is literally what you use when speaking to interviewers. For example, if you say: “… problem A can be broken down into B and C”, literally draw those on this sheet and point to each one as you speak.

  • Lastly, the scratch paper is there for anything else you need to write out in interviews’ brainstorm ideas, calculations, etc. The purpose of this sheet is to make the other two clear and neat. So you don’t have to worry too much about what you write here on this scratch paper.

Write down all the important information. You can use abbreviations.

  • Client name

  • Industry

  • Geography

  • Current situation

  • Goal/objective:

And for your analysis put the name of the area you supposed to analyzed and it structure

  • Name of the first area analyzed

  • Structure for the first area

  • Name of the second area analyzed

  • Structure for the second area

Hope it helps,

Best,

André

Related BootCamp article(s)

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

1 Q&A

Related case(s)

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 9.5k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 383
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 6.7k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 342
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 1.6k times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.6 5 85
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case

McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology

Solved 1.6k times
McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology [PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstream, and downstream divisions, they have recently been experiencing competitivity issues in the upstream gas division, which brings in $1B in profits annually. Our client’s upstream division has offices in Australia and Indonesia. Their work is highly dependent on their IT systems, as they have to constantly monitor wells and pipes (pressure, hydrocarbon count, fluid makeup, etc.) The upstream division has two large legacy IT systems that are primarily used for downstream operations but have been modified for upstream purposes. These systems are managed by a central team in the US which is responsible for all IT issues across the business. They triage issues/enhancements and then manage development teams in India and Finland who complete the work.
4.6 5 37
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

[PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstr ... Open whole case