Many professionals go back and forth about whether taking notes during an interview is a good idea. On one hand, jotting down information reinforces the fact that you’re interested, engaged and invested in what the interviewer has to say. However, some candidates worry that taking notes might create the impression that they’re distracted and distant. My six years of experience working with job candidates has taught me that it’s fine to take notes – as long as you use the right techniques and avoid common pitfalls. To ace your next interview – and capture the information you need – consider the following strategies.
Only Write Down Key Information
This isn’t the time for you to transcribe every word a hiring manager utters. If the interviewer is offering up general information about the company, you’ll probably be able to find most of those facts online. If she’s sharing information you might need once you’re on the job, you can safely assume that you’ll receive a much more in-depth explanation after you’re hired. Stick with writing down names, positions and figures that could be helpful during a follow up interview or when you’re deciding whether to accept an offer.
Make Sure the Interview Still Feels Like a Conversation
The biggest risk of looking down at your notes is that you won’t form a meaningful connection with the interviewer. To avoid coming off as detached, maintain plenty of eye contact throughout the interview and only allow yourself to look at your notes for a few seconds at a time. If you’re taking a while to write something down, just skip that point and give your full attention back to the interviewer.
Don’t Use Notes to Deliver Your Answers
Just because you have a notepad in front of you doesn’t mean you should bring along a sheet full of pre-written notes to use as cues and reminders. Put the effort into memorizing information about the company and rehearsing answers to common questions before you sit down in front of a hiring manager. You’ll appear more confident and knowledgeable while also making up for any lack of eye contact that results from your note taking.
Stick with Paper
Your typing may be faster than your longhand writing, but you should always opt for a pen and paper over a computer when you’re taking notes during interview sessions. A laptop has the disadvantage of placing a potentially awkward physical barrier between you and the interviewer. A computer also increases the chances – and the interviewer’s suspicions – that you’ll be distracted.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Is it okay to bring notes to an interview? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.