Taking Notes During Job Interview

Are you a note taker?

Some folks cannot attend a meeting without their trusty pen and paper. While others trust their memory.

But is note-taking appropriate during a job interview?

The answer is yes, provided you take notes skillfully.

By now you probably know about the importance of body language during an interview, and note taking is another area of body language you should pay attention to.

Even experienced note takers should pay attention here. It’s not the same as taking notes during a meeting. This is, after all, a conversation where you are at the center of attention.

There’s a right way to do it, and the wrong way which will compromise your interview performance.

The wrong way
Writing too much.

This will force you to break eye-contact. Don’t make the interviewer feel like they are having a conversation with the top of your head rather than you.

Writing too much will also distract you from critical points that might be said while you’re writing.

And worst of all, if you interrupt the interviewer with “Slow down, I didn’t quite write it all down yet”, you’ve pretty much sealed your fate.

The right way
Only write flash words that you can remember to ask questions about later.

This way you only need to break eye contact momentarily.

This will keep note-taking non-intrusive. The interviewer will still feel comfortable that they are able to speak freely while having a conversation with you.

Develop a strategy that keeps writing to a minimum. For example, if you need to jot down something that you’d like to ask a question about later, start the note with “Q:

If it’s something you need to clarify after the interview use “CL:

Whatever strategy works for you that keeps your eyes off paper as much as possible.

If you do decide to take notes, extend the courtesy of asking permission to do so at the start of the interview.

Mention that you only will be jotting down a few words now and then to clarify any questions later.

Some interviewers may perceive note-taking as a positive sign you are organized and taking this job interview seriously. Just be sure to limit eyes-on-paper and you’ll be fine.