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Note paper - Is it okay to prepare before the interview?

Someone asked on Jan 08, 2019 - 3 answers

Hi there - I've got a basic question on the use of note paper for an in-person interview.

In order to write better notes, I've been advised to divide my note paper into quadrants and put headings at the top of each quadrant (basic headings like 'client', 'objective' and 'background' that I use to organise my notes on the problem statement). My question: is it okay to take 'pre-prepared' paper into the interview?

By this I mean, is it okay for me to draw up my note paper with quadrants + headings before the interview, and then take this 'pre-prepared' paper in with me?

I've got my first consulting interview next week and I'm not sure if bringing my own note paper is the norm (or if firms prefer candidates to write on paper they provide).

I'd feel more comfortable having my note paper prepared beforehand, rather than having to draw out quadrants/headings infront of my interview. But thought I'd ask the question to check with you guys.



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Sidi replied on Jan 08, 2019
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 60+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

I would clearly advise against this! It will come across overly robotic and generic! A case interview should first and foremost be a DISCUSSION (albeit a very structured and analytical one). As an interviewer I want to see how you THINK about the SPECIFIC QUESTION that I have asked you. It will be very irritating to see you pull out a pre-conceived and pre-structured sheet of paper - no matter what it actually contains. Just as any client would be irritated if you come up with an obvious "cookie cutter approach" to their specific problem.

All the best! Sidi

Guennael replied on Jan 08, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Short answer: No!

Long answer: Absolutely not!

Truthfully, you may not even be able to use your own paper - and even if you are, interviewer would rightfully think you are "cheating". Look, if you need something that basic to do well in the case, I think you aren't near ready and better practice a lot more before your interviews.

Vlad replied on Jan 09, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School


It doesn't really matter. I had the note papers for each of my interviews with all the three companies and got the offers.


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