Take Notes During An Interview - Here's Why

Taking notes during an interview can be a powerful signal that you are very serious about this opportunity. In general, note taking is considered to be one of the most powerful forms of letting another person know, in the business atmosphere, that what they’re saying is important to you. Taking down notes means you are listening to the other party. Contrary to what you might think, where you aren’t exactly making eye contact, and that could appear as though you don’t value their communications. That would be a mistaken point of view.

Generally speaking, during all business meetings, note taking is of high importance. You can use this to take down information that you may have heard which stands out to you. The information can be related to the conversation so that you can reference it again at a later date. Or it could be about potential asks that the other party has for you. In both instances, you can more effectively recall the session you are having at that moment and be a more effective leader.

When note-taking during an interview, the information that you’ll want to be sure you capture is anything related to particularly difficult questions, information regarding the job function itself, information regarding what stage of the interview process they are in with the remaining candidates. Anything that can better help you understand how to take action once you’ve left the interview.

If you are note-taking too much, you may want to take a break and be sure to make some eye contact with your interviewer. But even in the event that you don’t, taking down a large number of notes won’t signal to the interviewer that you aren’t the best candidate to hire for the position. You’ll still be held in high regard for taking the conversation so seriously.

When there are particular asks from you, on behalf of the interviewer, try to be sure you make a separate place in your notes for those. That will be extremely powerful when you follow up by email after the interview. Because you can use that information to be proactive and hiring managers or staff members will see you as responsible and willing to take initiative. Those are healthy signals that you are a professional and will be easy to work with.

The only mistake that you could make is by bringing with you information that’s regarding answers to interview questions. Even if you bring information regarding the company, the companies history, the CEO, or any other preparation material — that is completely fine. In fact, you will be rewarded for having prepared so heavily for the interview. But if you bring answers to interview questions, it may appear as though you are trying to trick the interviewer or not be your genuine self. And for that, you most likely will be removed from the interview process.

So the question is, should you be taking notes during an interview? Absolutely. Bring a pen, notebook, and any other applicable materials you have with you during the interview session. Keep good eye contact but don’t hesitate to take down notes for informative moments in the conversation. You’ll look professional, stand out from other interviewers and increase your chances of moving onto the second round of interviews.

Key takeaways

What you should be sure to take notes about:

  • Anything related to questions you had for the interviewer.
  • Anything related to questions the interviewer had for you, that you could not answer, and asked to answer at a later date.
  • Information regarding the interview process.
  • Information regarding the where the hiring manager is in the process.
  • Information regarding the job function.
  • Any asks that that interviewer had for you, that you need to follow up with.

Here's what you should avoid doing:

  • Don't write interview answers on your notepad and reference them.
  • Avoid too long of period where you are taking notes.
  • Be sure you aren't writing everything the interviewer is saying down on paper, only the key elements of the conversation that you want to reference later.
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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