Yes, bringing notes to an interview is acceptable. However, you have to be mindful of how you are using them. Some employers encourage bringing notes to an interview, which is better than providing incorrect information.
The idea of carrying notes to an interview is to help you remember crucial points. However, you should absolutely refrain from reading out your notes while answering questions, as that would create a negative impact. Even if you are carrying notes, you should only use them sporadically.
Remember that the notes you bring to an interview are only meant to help you. They can never be a replacement for your interview preparation. They should help you remember critical points like dates and the names of projects. But the answers you give should come directly from you, without having to sneak a peek at your notes.
You should remember a few key points while taking your notes. You can also make a few notes during the interview, which will help you in the follow-up interactions. By organizing your notes well, you will be able to make the best use of them.
How to Use Your Notes During Interviews?
If you are carrying notes for your interview, you should also know how to use them well. Or else they may create a negative impact on your recruiters. Here is how you can do it.
1. Organize Your Notes Well
If you are carrying multiple pages, then all the pages should be appropriately organized with proper headings. Each page should have headings like dates of joining, names of important projects, lists of awards and recognitions, and so forth.
That will prevent you from hunting through the pages when you actually need to answer the relevant questions. Shuffling through papers before the recruiters or being unable to find your points will make you feel awkward and will simply result in more tension.
2. Use Bullet Points
Using bullet points is another way of organizing your notes. Please do not write in long paragraphs, as that can make it challenging to locate a particular point you are trying to look at. Use highlighters for important issues.
Most importantly, you should be familiar with your notes enough to tell you at a glance where each point is written for quick answers.
3. Use Key Points
Do not write down entire responses in your notes. The answers should come from you without reading through all the points on the spot.
Hence, only write down important dates or names, data, and statistics, and occasionally glance at your notes while responding. You can also write down key terms and use them while you are explaining the concept.
4. Do not Scribble
Do not scribble your notes. It is best if you can bring typed notes to the interview. You can also use handwritten notes, but ensure they are written neatly. Scribbling on any piece of paper and using that as a reference will give the impression that you are disorganized and try to do everything at the last minute.
On the contrary, bringing well-typed notes will indicate that you have spent time and effort making proper notes and are willing to take the job seriously. Avoid reading from a phone, and use a notepad to make your notes.
5. Always Ask
While employers do not object to bringing notes to the interview, it is still professional to refrain from assuming anything. Asking them if you can consult your notes is a good idea.
You can simply show your notes and ask, “May I have a look?” And quickly glance down and up again, and carry on with your answer if they give permission.
What Kind of Notes Can You Bring to an Interview?
You cannot write entire answers to the expected questions and bring them to the interview. Here are some things you can jot down and carry in your notes:
- You can bring notes on industry updates or some research you have come across. You can write down the names of any significant companies or organizations that have carried out some program and then explain the process in your own words.
- You can write the questions you want to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview, and this is perfectly acceptable with most employers. You can write down six to eight questions you want to ask your interviewer.
- You can write down the headings of some critical issues that you want to discuss with the employer during the interview. For example, you can write “work-life balance,” which will remind you to discuss why this is important for you and how the organization ensures that for the employees.
- You can also write down the names of important projects you have worked on in the past and how they helped you learn some essential skills, and then explain in your own words.
- Data, facts, statistics, or findings of any market research can also be included in your notes. These are indeed difficult to remember, and you can consult your notes to answer them. Your employers will be impressed with your presentation.
Can You Take Notes During an Interview?
Yes, taking notes during an interview is alright, especially if you know it will be a long one and several points will be discussed. Taking notes during an interview will also help you remember crucial points for any follow-up discussion later. It could also help you ask pertinent questions at the end of the interview.
You must politely ask your interviewers first if it is okay if you jot down a few points. Most employers will agree and ask you to go ahead. However, refrain from writing down every single point in long sentences.
You must only write down keywords and major facts you may need later. Avoid writing down everything like a dictation, as this will indicate that you are unable to remember much without visual reinforcement every time.
You must also write down your points neatly. You can be sure that your interviewers will glance at your sheet from across the table. Ensure you write everything neatly and avoid scribbling and scratching points too much. It would be best if you also refrain from recording the interview to get out of making notes.
Taking notes can also help you reflect on your performance later, and you can make a more informed decision. Your interviewers will appreciate it if they see you taking down organized notes, as this will indicate you are taking the job seriously.
Type of Notes You Should Not Bring to an Interview
You must refrain from bringing certain types of notes to an interview. You should largely answer the questions yourself and only use your notes to consult key points. Here are some notes that you must try to avoid:
1. Behavioral Question Responses
Do not consult your notes while answering behavioral questions. Your employers might ask you about how you plan your tasks during the day or how well you think you are working under pressure.
These are questions about yourself, and you should be able to answer them without consulting any notes. Doing so would mean you do not know yourself well enough, and employers might feel you are unsure about your skills.
2. Problem-Solving Responses
Do not consult notes while demonstrating your problem-solving skills. Problems may arise at any point, and you must be able to handle them impromptu. Relying on notes to talk about when you solved a problem or how you did it may look like it was a rehearsed answer.
3. Personal Information
Do not read out personal information about your notes. You should know which year you graduated or what your GPA was, even if it was a long time ago. Refresh your memory if you have to before coming in for the interview so that you do not have to consult your notes on personal matters.
4. Notes on Mobile Phones
Do not use notes saved on your cell phone. Flashing out your phone or breaking eye contact with your recruiters every time you want to look at something will create a negative impression and could disrupt the flow of conversation. Use typed or handwritten notes that you can simply glance down at occasionally.
What to do if Employers do not Allow You to Use Notes?
Most employers will not deny if you want to consult your notes during an interview or if you want to take down notes during the process. They will grant you permission for both of them if you ask politely.
However, there may be some employers or interviewers who would want to make things challenging for you and deny your request. Or, they may give the impression with their tone or body language that they would not like it if you consulted your notes during the interview.
In such cases, you should remain calm and not panic. Always remember that the notes were meant to help you, and the success of your interview depends on your preparation.
Hence, always prepare well so that you are able to answer the questions even without consulting your notes. You may forget to name one or two things, but that should not stop you from answering well. It is thus advisable not to rely too much on the notes and only use them as occasional help.
Your mindset has a pivotal role to play here, and you must be confident that you will do well even if you are not allowed to use the notes. Simply carry on answering the questions with a smile on your face, and your employers are sure to be impressed by your confidence.
Your success in the interview depends on several factors. Your overall preparation, body language, appearance, knowledge, and skills will contribute towards your success. The notes you make during the interview will help you answer the questions better.
A proper discussion will have the conversation flowing between you and the interviewers. Any statistics, data, or facts that you state while answering will only make your responses more enriching and will help you stand out. Keeping brief notes with you will instill you with confidence, and you are sure to sail through the interview.