Many candidates, who are just starting their careers and appear for various job interviews from time to time, have some common questions. Should you take notes during an interview? Will it look unprofessional if they do so? And whether there is a particular format for taking the interviews.
The answer is yes, most definitely. Appearing for an interview is like a meeting. And suppose you do not know beforehand how many interviewers are going to be present on the panel or how long the interview is going to last. In that case, it is better to take notes. Taking notes during an interview is not unprofessional.
Rather, your interviewers will notice that you are organized and take your interview seriously. Taking notes during an interview helps you keep a clear head. Interviews can be stressful, and remembering crucial points for future reference while answering questions correctly will only add to the stress.
You may also forget some crucial points, and taking notes will only help you articulate your ideas in a better way. Most importantly, once the interview is over, you get to go home and go through the notes and see how well you did in the interview. You can also prepare accordingly if there are any follow-up rounds.
Some Points To Consider While Taking Notes During an Interview
Taking notes during an interview is perfectly acceptable. However, there is a way of doing everything in a professional setting. Here are some things you need to keep in mind.
1. Asking Permission
Politeness never hurts. Your employers will never say no when you want to take notes during an interview, but asking their permission is still a good idea. When the interview starts, ask them politely with a smile if it is okay to jot down a few points. Your employers will almost certainly raise no objections.
2. Speed of Writing
You might have a good speed of writing. However, that is not something you must demonstrate while taking notes during an interview. You do not have to speed up your writing trying to take down every word spoken in the room.
That is something you should never do. Only take down important points and write once in a while in your notepad in front of you.
3. Choosing the Points to Write
While taking notes, it is ideal to remember as much as possible. You only take down the most important things said in the room. Or, suppose an important point came up in the discussion that you might want to take up later again. You can write down those points quickly.
Do not write in full sentences. Try using keywords that help you remember and use bullet points. This will keep your actions smart and swift. You can also write down the names of the interviewers so that you can get back to them later again.
4. Listen More
Many new candidates, who are especially fresh out of college and applying for their first jobs, are still new to the ways of a workplace. Putting your head down and writing copious amounts as you did in college is not a good idea. You will not only miss out on important things but also show that you cannot remember pertinent points or are too nervous.
Maintaining eye contact during your interviews as much as possible is crucial. That won’t happen if you bury your head in the notepad. Good interviews are like good conversations; maintaining eye contact and understanding the verbal cues are crucial.
Bonus Read: How to Stay Calm During an Interview?
5. Kind of Device You Use
The kind of device you use for taking your notes will create no difference in the quality of the interview. It would be best if you carried expensive gadgets to take notes. Using a traditional planner with a notepad or a good diary to take notes is better.
Trying to write on a digital device using a stylus can backfire if your device starts malfunctioning. It will only leave you stressed, and you may fumble. Sometimes, using conventional things works best, and this is one of them. Use a smart diary, planner, and a good pen; that is all you need for the purpose.
6. Getting to The Notepad
It is possible you would be carrying some documents during the interview. You will have copies of your certificates and resumes. Do not fumble and fluster while trying to get to your notepad while searching through the documents, scattering papers.
It again shows that you are exceedingly nervous and not very organized either. If you know you are going to take notes, keep your notepad in such a way that you can easily reach it.
7. Carrying Your Things During an Interview
This might seem too trivial to mention, but it is amazing how many candidates make the mistake of not carrying their own items to take notes during an interview. This usually happens when candidates feel they are well prepared and have a good memory, and there would be no need to take notes in the first place.
However, when the discussion turns to salary, benefits, perks, and other topics involving data, the candidate feels the need to write down some points. And as they are not carrying their own things, they ask the interviewer if they can have a paper and pen to write down something.
Your interviewer will never refuse and will most graciously extend a pen and paper. But it reveals you are not farsighted enough and that you had not anticipated this line of discussion. Hence, always carry your things for the interview so that you may need them.
Bonus Read: How to Answer Desired Salary Interview Question? (With Examples)
How to Refer Notes During an Interview?
While referring to notes during an interview, you should remain calm and composed and not seem like you are reading too much from them. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Glance Every Once in a While
The purpose of taking notes during an interview is so that you can refer back to them when the times come at a later stage during the interview. However, do not read continuously from the notes in full sentences while doing so.
Glance down once in a while, look at the keywords, and formulate the sentences as you speak. Reading continuously from the notes seems mechanical, breaking your eye contact with the interviewer. It also reduces the conversational aspect of the interview.
To make this easier, you must ensure that you have organized your points well while writing. Do not scribble too much while taking the notes, so you have difficulty reading later. If you know you do not have good handwriting, write a bit larger and space out the points so that it becomes easier for you to read later.
Bonus Read: 14 Common Interview Questions And How to Answer Them
2. Do Not Take Notes on Matters You Should Know
One of the important things to remember while taking notes during an interview is that you should not be taking notes in front of your interviewers on matters you already know.
For example, suppose you had thoroughly reviewed the company website before going for the interview. In that case, you should be aware of the goals and vision of the company or the specific requirements of the position you had applied for.
Taking notes on these aspects will show you have not done adequate research. Knowing these details beforehand will also mean you would have to write less during the interview, giving you a greater scope of moving forward.
3. Don’t Ask Questions to Take Notes
An essential thing to keep in mind while taking notes during an interview is not to ask questions to your interviewers or ask them to repeat something so that you can write them down. It would be best if you only took down what you could while the discussion was going on. Interrupting the interviewer so that you can take notes is very unprofessional.
Not only will you interrupt their line of thought, but it will also seem like you cannot follow. Only write down what you can. If you have missed out on anything, you can subtly steer the conversation to one of the previous points so that the interviewers bring up the matter again. That is all you can do. So please pay close attention to what is being said, but do not show it by getting flustered.
4. Referring to Your Own Notes During Interviews
It is quite possible that you had made your own notes for the interview, and you want to refer to them while speaking. However, do not refer to your notes while speaking about your educational qualifications or work experience. You should know them well enough. Only consult the notes when you are talking about any facts or checking data.
You can also refer to your notes when you are invited to ask questions of your own at the end of the interview. This will show you are prepared for the interview and have looked into all the aspects which will create a favorable impression.
However, at the same time, do not take out lengths of the page to refer from. A few points that will help you remember the important questions or aspects should be enough.
If you were worried about whether you should take notes during an interview, there is no need to feel stressed about it. As long as you are organized and have done your basic research thoroughly, you can always write the important points during an interview. Avoid using chits of paper to do this, as it might seem unprofessional.
Use a good medium to write down your points, and use the points wisely when you discuss more important aspects of the job later. It will show your employers that you know how to make the best use of the information provided to you and use it to your advantage. This will create a favorable impression for sure. Even a simple act of taking notes can turn you into a viable candidate and help you land your job.