Note taking

notetaking
New answer on May 15, 2022
3 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 13, 2022

What is the best note taking technique during a case interview (how to organize my papers?)

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.900+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

I would recommend the following.

FIRST PAGE

I would suggest to divide the first page into 4 parts as below:

  • Top-left: client name/type
  • Bottom left: initial information
  • Top right: objectives
  • Bottom right: structure

Landscape format in general works better. Sometimes you will have to go back and forth, as you may get information, objective 1, additional information, objective 2, etc.

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.

FOLLOWING PAGES

After the first page, you can structure it as reported below:

  • Top-left: question asked
  • Bottom left: structure to answer
  • Top right: question asked
  • Bottom right: structure to answer

The vertical line can now be in the middle so that the left and right parts have the same distance.

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

  • Ask the interviewer to repeat in case you missed information. If this impacts significantly your understanding, as mentioned you need to interrupt the interviewer. If possible try to avoid to do so several times
  • Do a recap after the prompt. This ensures you took notes correctly, the interviewer will correct you if you repeat something wrong
  • Use abbreviations. Eg, for revenues use R, for costs use C, for increase use ⬆, etc.
  • Write down essential information only. You won’t have time to write down everything, therefore you should focus on key info only. If you have a client that produces steel with four plants with a revenue problem, your notes could be something as Steel producer, R ⬇, 4 plants
  • Keep a separate sheet for math if you tend to be disorganized when you perform calculations

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2022
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

1) Decide physical vs virtual - are you a faster typer or writer?

2) If virtual, pick the best tool - try outlook draft emails (so you can store/organize with your email), try notepad, try a tablet so you can write on it, etc....find the one that works for you

3) Only write down what is important - you should know this! You don't need to capture everything. Just like in a case, figuring out what information is not needed is just as valuable as figuring out what information is needed.

4) And then, what you do write down, write it 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

Casing Sheets of Paper - Organization

Feel free to message me - I have a casing template that helps you nail interviews.

I can't reveal everything, but some teasers are:

1) A seperate sheet for each "portion" of the case...with clear locations + methods for title/subject, notes, calculations, takeaways, etc.

2) Figuring out a location for everything and where each information type should go

3) Seperate sheet for math calculations

There's much much more, but you get the gist!

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 15, 2022
McKinsey & Oxford / 100% success rate beyond 4 sessions / top 25% best consultants in the Firm

Hi there, 

In short:

  • Use a different sheet for every question, as well as a different sheet for the prompt
  • Number the sheets at the bottom
  • Circle and underline every question
  • Keep a separate sheet for ‘messy' / random calculations
  • Make sure you write down the unit of measurement for numbers (L / km / $ / …?)

This should be enough. Don't develop too many rules otherwise you're going to be thinking about them instead of the problem. The whole point of having a good note taking mechanism is to avoid it getting in your way. 

Best,

Cristian

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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