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Writing stuff down during a case

#1 Writing stuff down during a case
14/02/2010 14:56


Question for anyone who has been on the 'giving' side of case interviews (or anyone who thinks they can speak authoritatively about said subject):

Would you view it negatively if a candidate used a piece of paper to write down key points, to scribble our a framework, or to work out calculations during the case? Or positively? Or wouldn't make any difference?

I ask as I'm preparing for an interview with a tier-2 strat house and not sure about the etiquette.

Tony - appreciate you plugging your seminars on this topic, but unfortunately won't be able to make the next one before the interview. Love the site though.

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#2 RE: Writing stuff down during a case
14/02/2010 15:51

Oat to Bob (#1)

It wouldn't make any difference either way as long as:

- it doesn't impair your discussion of the case with the interviewer (i.e. don't stare at the piece of paper the whole time)

- you are able to articulate your thinking (i.e. have sufficient structure and illustrations to make your proposals clear)

As you can see, the first point can be used to argue against taking notes, the second point can be used to argue in favour of taking notes.

There may be aspects to the case on the day which point you towards one approach. For example, in some cases you are given a written copy of all the information anyway. In other cases, you will only be given information verbally and unless you write it down it will look like you aren't paying attention.

Similarly, in numerically-heavy cases which ask for extensive calculation, or those where you are asked to make a stand-up presentation of your findings, it would be sensible to build your written evidence as you go along.

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#3 RE: Writing stuff down during a case
15/02/2010 01:15

Anon to Bob (#1)

Maybe it's different place-to-place, but for MBA recruiting at US schools you are absolutely expected to write during a case.

Frameworks, calculations, etc. are all put to paper in a "presentation" sort of way (within the limitations of on-the-spot cases).

In my experience, you would have no chance of excelling in a case if you didn't write stuff down. It's not unusually to use 2-3 pages.

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#4 RE: Writing stuff down during a case
15/02/2010 18:49

Anon to Bob (#1)

You are expected to write things down in order to do the case well. At the start of the case the interviewer will spend a while outlining the basics of the case, jot down the key points. Then when you come up with your structure - write it down. As you go through the case, keep jotting down key points etc. It shows your are structured if you can refer back to your plan and show what step you are at and what comes next. Also, its very useful to have the key stats written down when it comes to summing up. You'll be nervous and its very easy to forget numbers etc. after a few minutes.

Calculations you can definitely do on paper (unless they're trivial, like 10% of 200 or something) and it won't look at all bad. Again, its expected.

I would say though that it's not really like the US method the guy abovve talks about in that your notes are only for your benefit, not a presentation.

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#5 RE: Writing stuff down during a case
16/02/2010 15:25

B-Case Buster! to Bob (#1)

Feel free to write stuff down and also feel free to make use of any of the white boards in the room to draw up diagrams to support your arguement.

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#6 RE: Writing stuff down during a case
16/02/2010 16:45

Jim to B-Case Buster! (#5)

Never write anything down – that way you can impress the interviewer with your abilities of recall… and there is no evidence of anything that was discussed, so you can argue the point with them later down the pub

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