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Taking notes in case interview

Marcel asked on Oct 08, 2018 - 3 answers


although this might be not the first time somebody asking this:

Do you have any tips writing down notes during case interviews?

During my prep cases, my notes look like a mess - I have a hard time organizing a nice and neat paper (which the interviewer sees of course in a real interview).

Is it allowed to prepare a clean sheet for insights as well as a scrap page for taking notes, doing some calcs etc.?

Happy to hear your thoughts on this

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replied on Oct 08, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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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.

! Have a separate sheet for math calculations !


Benjamin replied on Oct 09, 2018
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I recommand the following :

- Works on single sheets : it's easier to navigate throught your notes without turning upside down all the papers

- Use two different type of sheets : A clean sheet with notes ,structure, and results. A working sheet with your calculation and other potential messy writings.

- When progressing in the case, refer to your clean sheet : this will both help you an dyou rinterviewer follow the flow of the reasoning.

Hope this helps


replied on Oct 09, 2018
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Here's a slightly different format:

Draw a line the length of the page, about 2 cm / 1 inch from the edge, and an horizontal one across the middle of that thin band.

In the large area (80% of the page basically), I write the question at the top, my framework just below, and any calculations lower still. I put important numbers in a box for use later.

In the thin band, I use the top rectangle to write a couple of words for each of my recommendations. This becomes handy when you are asked to give a conclusion without the benefit of 30 seconds of reflection - which is what BCG will do; in the lower recaltanle, I will write ideas I have through the case but that are not relevant at that exact moment. I'll use that to not forget anything - and if I dont get a chance to get back to these points before the case ends, they become my natural next steps at the end of the conclusion.

Note: I write small and little, so a page is more than enough for me. If you write big / a lot, feel free to use more than one sheet - but please remember what is where!

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