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Francesco

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7

On note taking during case interview

Can I take notes with both black color pen and red color pen? I want to use red pen to highlight some of the important things. But I am not sure the interviewer will be happy with it (especially during virtual interview)

Can I take notes with both black color pen and red color pen? I want to use red pen to highlight some of the important things. But I am not sure the interviewer will be happy with it (especially during virtual interview)

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Hi there,

I can't see any problem in a virtual interview (the interviewer won't probably even notice).

In a real one, it could look a bit strange to the interviewer but if it is useful for you I don't think there could be issues.

In terms of how to take notes, I would suggest to divide the first page into 4 parts as below:

  • top-left: who is the client
  • 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.

After the first page, you can structure as below:

  • 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

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. 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
  • Keep a separate sheet for math if you tend to be disorganized in that part

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi there,

I can't see any problem in a virtual interview (the interviewer won't probably even notice).

In a real one, it could look a bit strange to the interviewer but if it is useful for you I don't think there could be issues.

In terms of how to take notes, I would suggest to divide the first page into 4 parts as below:

  • top-left: who is the client
  • 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.

After the first page, you can structure as below:

  • 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

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. 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
  • Keep a separate sheet for math if you tend to be disorganized in that part

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

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Hi!

No problem with using another color. But don't overdo it - if you start juggling around with several pens it just becomes incredibly messy! What is much more powerful is to learn how to organize your notes "physically" within/across pages.

Cheers, Sidi

Hi!

No problem with using another color. But don't overdo it - if you start juggling around with several pens it just becomes incredibly messy! What is much more powerful is to learn how to organize your notes "physically" within/across pages.

Cheers, Sidi

what does "organize the notes 'physically' within/across pages? — Anonymous A on Jul 28, 2020

Separate your structure (the roadmap of the case) from the essential information and calculatoin results and from your actual calculations/analyses. What usually works well is one page with the general logic/structure, and one page split between key information and analyses. — Sidi on Jul 29, 2020

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Hi,

During a virtual interview, the interviewer is not going to notice the color of the pen you are using unless you are planning to show your notes. However, I think to jump between pens could potentially be a bit distracting. One option could be to use one of those multi-color ink pens where you can change the color at the flick of a button!

As Sidi says, just having a good structure on your notes is going to be more important.

-A

Hi,

During a virtual interview, the interviewer is not going to notice the color of the pen you are using unless you are planning to show your notes. However, I think to jump between pens could potentially be a bit distracting. One option could be to use one of those multi-color ink pens where you can change the color at the flick of a button!

As Sidi says, just having a good structure on your notes is going to be more important.

-A

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I would be happy if someone took great notes!

As Sid mentioned, the key to good note taking isn't color it is how you structure your page for note taking, Specifically how key numbers are written, whether you highlight answers, where you do workings vs where you carry over information etc.

I would be happy if someone took great notes!

As Sid mentioned, the key to good note taking isn't color it is how you structure your page for note taking, Specifically how key numbers are written, whether you highlight answers, where you do workings vs where you carry over information etc.

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In this case, you do you! Do whatever will help you organize your thoughts.

In an in-person interview the interviewer wouldn't care (as long as it's not distracting), and in a virtual one they most definitely will not care.

One consideration: Make sure this actually makes you perform better (i.e. does not slow you down, helps you keep track of your thoughts, etc.).

In this case, you do you! Do whatever will help you organize your thoughts.

In an in-person interview the interviewer wouldn't care (as long as it's not distracting), and in a virtual one they most definitely will not care.

One consideration: Make sure this actually makes you perform better (i.e. does not slow you down, helps you keep track of your thoughts, etc.).

(edited)

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Dear A,

Using different pens is ok. The most important is to have clear note so that you can communicate them.

By the way, I don't think that it will be visible and pay attention on what pens you are using.

Best,
André

Dear A,

Using different pens is ok. The most important is to have clear note so that you can communicate them.

By the way, I don't think that it will be visible and pay attention on what pens you are using.

Best,
André

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Hi, it is fine to highlight important numbers or conclusions with another color

Best

ANtonello

Hi, it is fine to highlight important numbers or conclusions with another color

Best

ANtonello

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