Organizing notes in Mckinsey

McKinsey Notes organizingnotes
New answer on Jan 21, 2021
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 08, 2019

Hi everyone,

how do you suggest to organize the notes in a case interview? It is wrong to write each question on a different sheet in a McKinsey case?

Thanks !

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Vlad
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replied on Jul 08, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I recommend the following approach- 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 caseflow

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

! Have a separate sheet for math calculations!

It's also important:

  1. A good habit is to guide the interviewer through your structure by showing the structure on paper. So at least the structure should look clean and clear for the interviewer. Literally, move your pen to the different elements of your structure while presenting. And very often you need to do more than one structure while solving the case.
  2. You need to have clarity with numbersto be successful at calculations.
  3. While providing the final recommendation you need to find all the key numbers quickly, in order to use them in the arguments. Thus you need clarity

All in all - having clear and organized notes have many pros while unclear notes can easily lead to failure.

Best!

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Deniz
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replied on Jul 08, 2019
BCG | A.T. Kearney | University of Cambridge | 350+ coachees | 5+ years of consulting experience in London, Dubai and Istanbul

Hi,

You can keep the paper horizontally and keep the data points on the top right of the page (in a box). There are typically 4 5 main questions in a mck case. If you find it easier, you can dedicate each page for one question.

Best,

Deniz

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Henning
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replied on Jan 21, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Note taking is of course a critical piece of a strong case delivery, so it will pay off to practice this early on in your preparation.

Whatever system you chose (and practice), it needs to fulfill 3 main purposes:

  • Allow you to note down the critical data and information you hear during the case prompt and have the readily available whenever you need them
  • It needs to enable you to note down an initial framework and track the execution against it
  • It should provide room to store your key insights (1-2 numbers or 1 short bullet point per branch of your framework)

There are certainly many different styles of note taking that provide these three functions, so you should find our which one works for you and enables you to focus on the case execution, rather than the note taking. Keep in mind that you should practice this system early on in your journey, so you are comfortable with this method when you go into the interviews.

Find below a screenshot of the notetaking system that works for me personally. In this system, I first draw one vertical and one horizontal line. Then I use the column on the left side to take the initial notes during the case prompt and clarifying questions. Then I write down the key question of the case in the top row and develop the framework in the main area on the page.

During the case, I scribble less important stuff on separate pages (e.g. notes during the quant part). However, I will write down the key insights of each branch of the framework at the bottom of my main page. That way, when I get to the recommendation, I can simply read the notes from left to right to have the supporting arguments for the case recommendation.

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Anonymous replied on Aug 15, 2020

Dear A,

During the case interview, you will be given a sheet for taking notes. Designate each sheet for each specialized task.

  • 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.

Hope this helps and speak soon,

André

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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