Notes During Cases

case interview note taking organizingnotes Taking Notes
New answer on Dec 30, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 09, 2020

Hello, I'm having some troubles taking notes during a case, I can follow up easily with the interviewer, but my notes are sometimes messy, and if I have multiple calculations, and need to revisit some of them later during the case, I kind of struggle because everything is mixed up together! do you have any specific methods you use to take notes? do you divide the paper into sections?

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Ian
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replied on Dec 09, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

In regards to your casing template

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

In regards to quickly taking notes in general

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
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Henning
Expert
replied on Dec 09, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

This is how I take notes on my main page (see picture). Key is to use the main page only for your initial framework and the most critical insights. That way you can easily replay the final recommendation including the 2-3 key facts to support your recommendation at the end of the case.

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Vlad
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replied on Dec 09, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

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 (e.g. market size next to the corresponding bullet)

! Have a separate sheet for math calculations!

Best!

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Clara
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replied on Dec 10, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I honestly don´t agree with having templates for note making.

Even less in consulting interviews, when topics are very very wide and plenty of chances, hence, it´s almost impossible to have a pre-populated template that will adapt correly.

Cheers,

Clara

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Antonello
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replied on Dec 30, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, in addition to the good inputs of my colleagues I strongly suggest using a separate sheet for calculations and highlighting the most important numbers or evidences to quicker structure recommendations

Best,
Antonello

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Anonymous replied on Dec 16, 2020

Hi, I would suggest to have 3 separate sheets:

  1. First sheet is where you note the case context & question, write your structure and jot down key conclusions from your analysis
  2. Second sheet is where you do your math formula, sub-framework (if any) and analysis
  3. Third sheet and more as needed is your scratch paper
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Gaurav
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updated an answer on Dec 10, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies
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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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