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Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview? (+ How to Use Them)

Published
March 11, 2024
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4
Min Read
Last updated
March 21, 2024
Anika Jahin
Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview? (+ How to Use Them)
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Walking into a job interview can be nerve-wracking, with a million questions racing through your mind. One common concern? Whether or not it's appropriate to bring notes to the interview.

While some might think it makes you look unprepared, others see it as a sign of professionalism and organization. So, what's the verdict? Can bringing notes help you land the job?

Like most things in life, the answer is more than a simple yes or no. It depends on various factors, and this blog will delve into the world of interview notes, exploring their benefits, potential drawbacks, and, ultimately, how to use them effectively to make a great impression during your next job interview.

What Kind of Notes Are Beneficial

While bringing notes to an interview can be helpful, choosing the right information to include is crucial. Remember, the goal is to enhance your performance, not hinder it. Here's what you should consider incorporating in your notes:

(1) Key Points From the Job Description

Briefly jot down key skills, experiences, and qualifications mentioned in the job description. This allows you to tailor your responses and showcase how your strengths align with the position's requirements.

(2) Specific Questions You Have for the Interviewer

Prepare thoughtful questions for the interviewer and hiring manager, demonstrating your genuine interest in the role and company.

Note down questions about the challenges and opportunities of the job, the company's core values and culture, and how the position aligns with your career goals. This displays your curiosity and enthusiasm for learning more about the organization.

(3) Highlighted Achievements

Showcase your skills and experiences using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to craft impactful stories. Briefly note down the situation, your actions, and the quantifiable results achieved.

Let's look at an example of how to demonstrate your skills and experience through impactful storytelling:

"In my previous role as a marketing associate, I was tasked with increasing website traffic. I implemented a targeted social media strategy, resulting in a 20% traffic boost within 6 months." (Demonstrates initiative, marketing skills, and ability to track results)

(4) A Personal Story

While your resume highlights your skills and experience, a well-placed anecdote can truly leave a lasting impression. Briefly jot down a relevant personal story that showcases your passion, work ethic, or a unique skill that aligns with the company's values or the position's requirements. This humanizes your application and allows you to connect with the interviewer on a deeper level.

For example, if you're applying for a job at an environmental non-profit, you could mention a volunteer experience where you participated in a park clean-up event. This demonstrates your passion for sustainability and willingness to contribute to the community.

Remember, keep the story concise and relevant to the interview. It's a great way to showcase your personality in a memorable way.

(5) Prepared Answers for Common Questions

Jot down brief responses to common interview questions. This helps you structure clear and concise answers, demonstrating confidence and clarity. It also showcases your problem-solving abilities to the hiring manager.

(6) Notes Taken During Your Interview

While generally acceptable, politely ask the interviewer if you can take notes before the job interview starts. This demonstrates respect and professionalism. Also, note-taking during the job interview process can be a lifesaver for those prone to post-interview forgetfulness.

Capture key details like salary range, responsibilities, next interview step, and schedules to aid recall for follow-up or reflection. This shows proactiveness and interest in the opportunity. Here are a few benefits of note-taking during the interview:

  • Aids memory: Jotting down notes helps you remember key details about the role, company, and interview discussion.
  • Shows interest and engagement: Taking notes demonstrates your attentiveness and desire to learn more about the opportunity.
  • Gathers information for post-interview follow-up: Notes help you recall important details during your thank-you note or potential follow-up questions.

Remember, structure your notes using bullet points for clarity. Make sure to maintain eye contact and active listening while taking notes, which can be challenging during the interview.

Wudpecker's AI notetaker solves this problem by recording and summarizing meetings. This allows you to actively participate in the conversation without worrying about writing down notes.

While Wudpecker is an excellent option, remember to ask for permission before choosing any solution.

Note-Taking Traps to Avoid

While note-taking can be a valuable tool in your interview arsenal, there are many things that can go wrong.

Here are some potential pitfalls to avoid:

(1) Relying on Scripted Responses

Reading directly from prepared responses can sound robotic and inauthentic. Plus, there are often questions or discussions that you can't fully anticipate.

At that point, trying to find a non-related answer from your pre-written notes hampers genuine engagement and fails to showcase your ability to think on your feet and adapt to the discussion.

(2) Losing Focus on the Interviewer

Focusing on your notes too much can take your attention away from the interviewer's body language and nonverbal cues. 

This can restrain your ability to respond effectively and build rapport. You can come across as unprepared and unengaged, even if you've carefully crafted your notes beforehand.

(3) Including Unnecessary Notes

Don't include negative remarks about previous employers, colleagues, or experiences. Keep your notes professional and focused on job-related information.

Additionally, avoid dedicating excessive space to information the interviewer likely already has access to, such as your resume details or readily available company information.

(4) Using Your Phone for Reading Notes

Taking out your phone to refer to your brief notes can be perceived as unprofessional and disrespectful. It can also disrupt the flow of the conversation and create a sense of distraction.

Some companies may have policies against using personal devices during interviews due to security concerns. Using your phone for notes could potentially violate these policies and raise red flags.

Tips for Effective Note-Taking

Preparing pre-written notes before an interview can be a helpful strategy to ensure you address key points and questions with the interviewer. These notes will serve as a valuable reference to help you stay organized and focused during the interview process.

Similarly, taking notes during the interview is equally important. You can capture essential information by jotting down key details about the job, the company, and the conversation. This can be particularly useful for recalling specific details when following up with the interviewer or reflecting on your interview experience later.

Here is a guide on how to effectively take notes at different stages.

(1) Favor Bullet Points Over Long Sentences

Remember, your notes are a tool to aid your memory, not replace your conversation. Ditch lengthy paragraphs and opt for concise bullet points to capture essential details.

Bullet points provide a visual structure, making it easy to locate specific details during the interview. Also, condensing information minimizes distractions and keeps you present in the conversation.

(2) Practice Speaking and Reading

Practice speaking aloud while referencing your notes. This ensures a smooth flow of all the answers and prevents them from limiting the ability to interact in a conversational manner.

(3) Don’t Rely on the Notes Too Much

Avoid excessive reliance on notes throughout the interview. This can make you appear unprepared and disengaged. Continuously flipping through notes or scribbling can break the natural flow of the conversation.

Even during the interview, extensive note-taking, especially if done clumsily or excessively, can be unprofessional and disrespectful to the interviewer.

(4) Ask Permission

While generally accepted, politely asking the interviewer if it's okay to take notes shows respect and professionalism. This is especially important in virtual or video interviews where nonverbal cues are less prominent.

Technology as an Option:

Solutions like Wudpecker can record and summarize meetings, potentially freeing you to focus entirely on the conversation. However, if you are considering using any such technology, remember to ask permission from the interviewer before recording.

Conclusion

Throughout your interview journey, effective note-taking can be a powerful tool. You can structure your preparation by organizing key information, crafting talking points, and anticipating potential questions.

During the interview, utilize notes subtly as prompts to enhance your performance through active listening and maintaining professionalism. Finally, utilize your notes after the interview to solidify your understanding by reviewing key points and preparing for follow-up interactions.

By following our tips, you can leverage the benefits of notes while ensuring they enhance your interview performance and showcase your professionalism.  

Remember, notes should complement your communication skills and showcase your potential, ultimately leaving a positive and lasting impression on the interviewers. They are a discreet supportive tool, not a crutch, so use them strategically to achieve interview success.

FAQs

Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview?

In most cases, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to bring notes to an interview. However, politely asking the interviewer for permission beforehand is always a good idea. This demonstrates respect and professionalism.

How Do You Take Notes Effectively in an Interview?

Taking notes during an interview can be a valuable tool to enhance your performance. Here are some key tips for effective note-taking:

(1) Use bullet points: Condense information into concise points for quick reference and minimal distraction.

(2) Focus on key information: Capture important details like company culture, responsibilities, salary range, and next steps.

(3) Don't rely solely on notes: Maintain eye contact and engage in genuine conversation.

(4) Be discreet and professional: Avoid excessive note-taking or using your phone.

What Notes to Make Before an Interview?

Summarize key information: Briefly note down the required skills and experience from the job description.

Prepare questions: Jot down questions you have for the interviewer to demonstrate your genuine interest in the opportunity.

Craft talking points: Prepare concise explanations of relevant skills using the STAR method to showcase your capabilities with impactful examples. It should be to the point rather than too descriptive.

Is It Ok to Admit You Are Nervous at an Interview?

It's perfectly acceptable to acknowledge feeling nervous during an interview. In fact, it can demonstrate your authenticity and desire to perform well. However, frame it positively by mentioning how excited you are about the opportunity and how you've prepared to showcase your skills.

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Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview? (+ How to Use Them)
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Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview? (+ How to Use Them)
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Is It Appropriate to Bring Notes to an Interview? (+ How to Use Them)
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