Is It Ok To Take Notes During An Interview? Best Practices

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Are you preparing for an important interview and wondering whether it’s acceptable to take notes during the conversation? The answer is yes, it’s perfectly fine to take notes during an interview, and in fact, it may even benefit you in the long run.

Not only can note-taking help you stay focused and engaged throughout the interview, but it can also serve as a valuable reference point for future discussions and decision-making.

However, before you start jotting down every word, it’s important to understand the potential drawbacks of note-taking during an interview. For example, excessive note-taking can be distracting and may give the impression that you are not fully present in the conversation. Additionally, if you’re not careful, you may miss important nonverbal cues from the interviewer or fail to make a genuine connection.

To help you navigate the do’s and don’ts of note-taking during an interview, we’ve compiled a list of best practices to ensure that you make the most of this valuable tool.

Key Takeaways

  • Note-taking during interviews has several benefits, including improved focus and engagement, retention of information, and active listening.
  • Effective note-taking strategies involve balancing note-taking with active listening, using abbreviations and keywords, reviewing and fleshing out incomplete thoughts, and organizing notes with bullet points and headings.
  • Alternatives to note-taking include recording with permission, mental note-taking with visualization techniques, and bringing a support system for feedback, preparation, and confidence.
  • Ethical considerations include obtaining consent for audio recording, only sharing notes with trusted individuals for specific purposes, and using audio recording with respect for the interviewee’s rights.

Benefits of Taking Notes During an Interview

Taking notes during an interview can provide you with valuable insights and help you remember important details. By jotting down key points, you can improve your retention of the information shared during the interview.

This can be especially helpful if you have multiple interviews lined up or if you’re meeting with several people during one interview. Taking notes also forces you to actively listen to what the interviewer is saying. By being fully engaged in the conversation, you can ask follow-up questions and clarify any points that may be unclear.

Additionally, having organized thoughts and notes can lead to better follow-up with the interviewer after the interview. You can refer back to your notes and use them to craft a thoughtful thank-you email or to prepare for a potential second interview.

Overall, taking notes during an interview is a great way to ensure you’re fully present and engaged in the conversation, and can help you make a positive impression on the interviewer.

Potential Drawbacks of Taking Notes

When taking notes during an interview, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks. One of these is appearing distracted, as constantly writing can give off the impression that you’re not fully engaged in the conversation.

Additionally, relying too heavily on note-taking can cause you to miss important non-verbal cues from the interviewer.

Finally, there’s a risk of becoming overly dependent on your notes, which can hinder your ability to have a natural, flowing conversation.

Note: This version uses contractions.

maintaining focus in an interview while taking important notes
Maintaining focus in an interview while taking important notes

Appear Distracted

Don’t let yourself appear distracted by fidgeting or looking around during the interview – taking notes can actually show that you’re engaged and serious about the opportunity. However, it’s important to balance note-taking with active listening.

Tips for managing distractions include sitting up straight, maintaining eye contact, and nodding along to show that you’re listening.

When taking notes, make sure to focus on key points and avoid writing down every single word. This will help you stay engaged in the conversation and show that you’re paying attention.

If you’re worried about appearing distracted, let the interviewer know that you’ll be taking notes and ask if they’re comfortable with that.

Overall, taking notes during an interview can help you stay organized and remember important details, so don’t be afraid to do so.

Miss Non-Verbal Cues

It’s crucial to be aware of non-verbal cues during an interview, as they can indicate the interviewer’s level of interest and engagement. Body language interpretation is an important skill to have, as it can help you understand the interviewer’s thoughts and feelings.

For example, if the interviewer leans forward, maintains eye contact, and nods their head, it can indicate that they are interested in what you are saying. On the other hand, if they cross their arms, avoid eye contact, or frown, it can indicate that they are disengaged or skeptical.

However, communication barriers can make it difficult to interpret non-verbal cues. For example, cultural differences can lead to different interpretations of body language. Additionally, some people may have conditions such as autism or social anxiety that affect their ability to express themselves through body language.

To overcome these barriers, it’s important to ask clarifying questions and pay attention to verbal cues as well. By being aware of non-verbal cues and communication barriers, you can improve your chances of having a successful interview.

Dependence on Notes

Relying heavily on extensive notes during the interview can detract from the natural flow of conversation, hindering the opportunity to establish a genuine connection with the interviewer. While taking notes can be helpful in capturing important details, relying too much on them can make you seem disengaged and uninterested in the conversation.

Additionally, constantly looking down at your notes can make it difficult to maintain eye contact with your interviewer, which is a key component of building rapport. To strike a balance between note-taking and active listening, consider adopting the following best practices:

  1. Prepare before the interview: Familiarize yourself with the job description and company research beforehand to avoid getting bogged down in note-taking during the interview.
  2. Use abbreviations and keywords: Instead of writing out full sentences, jot down keywords and phrases that will jog your memory later.
  3. Review your notes after the interview: Take some time after the interview to review your notes and flesh out any incomplete thoughts. This will help you retain important information and increase productivity in your follow-up communication.

By implementing these strategies, you can take effective notes during the interview without sacrificing the opportunity to build a genuine connection with your interviewer. Increased productivity and memory retention are just a few of the benefits that come with finding a balance between active listening and note-taking.

using abbreviations and keywords in taking notes during an interview
Using abbreviations and keywords in taking notes during an interview

Best Practices for Note-Taking During an Interview

One effective way to ensure accurate note-taking during an interview is to use abbreviations and shorthand. By doing so, you can quickly jot down key points without slowing down the flow of the conversation. However, be sure to use abbreviations that are familiar to you and easy to understand later on.

It’s also important to avoid relying too heavily on abbreviations and shorthand, as it can make reviewing your notes later a challenge.

Another best practice for note-taking during an interview is to focus on writing down the most essential information. This means identifying key themes or ideas that come up repeatedly throughout the conversation and prioritizing those in your notes.

It’s also helpful to use bullet points and headings to keep your notes organized and easy to read later on. By using these techniques, you can ensure that your notes accurately capture the most important information from the interview.

What to Do with Your Notes After the Interview

Once the interview is over, you should take a few moments to organize your thoughts and distill the key takeaways from your scribbles. This is an important step in ensuring that you retain the information you gathered during the interview.

Note organization is crucial to help you remember important details, and to help you make sense of the information you gathered. To make sure that you retain the information you gathered during the interview, you should consider sharing your notes with others.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that confidentiality is key when sharing notes. Only share your notes with trusted individuals who need the information for a specific purpose. Additionally, make sure to retain a copy of your notes for future reference, in case you need to refer to them again.

Overall, taking notes during an interview can be a useful tool for retaining information, but it’s important to have a plan in place for organizing and sharing your notes.

Alternatives to Note-Taking

When it comes to note-taking during an interview, you may find that it distracts you from being fully present in the conversation. However, there are alternatives to taking notes that can help you remember important details.

One option is to record the interview with the interviewer’s permission. Another option is to make mental notes during breaks or after the interview.

Lastly, consider bringing a support system, such as a friend or family member, to take notes for you.

Audio Recording

If you’re looking for a more efficient way to take notes during an interview, you can consider using an audio recording device. This method allows you to focus on the conversation and actively engage with the interviewee without the distraction of writing notes.

Additionally, you can capture every detail of the conversation, ensuring transcription accuracy and reducing the risk of missing important information. However, there are ethical considerations to keep in mind when using an audio recording device.

Make sure to obtain the interviewee’s consent before recording and be transparent about your intentions for using the recording. It’s also important to keep the recording secure and confidential to protect the interviewee’s privacy.

Overall, audio recording can be a useful tool in note-taking during interviews, but it’s important to use it ethically and with respect for the interviewee’s rights.

Mental Note-Taking

Taking mental notes during an interview is like riding a bicycle – it takes practice to become proficient but can be a valuable skill. The key to effective mental note-taking is to find a strategy that works for you.

taking important mental notes during an interview
Taking important mental notes during an interview

There are several effective strategies that can help increase memory retention during an interview. One strategy is to focus on key points and important details. Try to pick out the most important information and focus on remembering those details.

Another effective strategy is to use visualization techniques. This involves creating mental images of the information you want to remember. For example, if the interviewer mentions a specific project, try to visualize what the project might look like and how it might work. This can help you remember the details more easily.

It’s important to find a strategy that works for you and to practice it regularly. With time and practice, taking mental notes during an interview can become second nature, helping you to remember important details and make a positive impression on your prospective employer.

Bringing a Support System

Bringing a support system to your job interview can greatly enhance your confidence and performance, ultimately increasing your chances of landing the job.

Your support system can consist of someone who can give you honest feedback on your interview skills, help you practice answering common interview questions, or even just someone who can listen to you talk about your nerves and offer encouragement.

Additionally, your support system can help with interview preparation. They can assist you in researching the company and the position you’re interviewing for, provide you with insights on the company’s culture and values, and even help you pick out the appropriate outfit for the interview.

Having someone to bounce ideas off of and to help you feel more prepared can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that comes with job interviews.


While there are certainly benefits to jotting down key points during the conversation, there are also potential drawbacks to consider.

However, by following some best practices and keeping a few alternative options in mind, you can create a successful note-taking strategy that works for you.

Remember, taking notes during an interview can help you stay engaged, remember important details, and ultimately make a more informed decision about your next steps. Just be sure to avoid any distractions and stay focused on the conversation at hand.

At the end of the day, the goal of an interview is to gather information and make connections. By developing a thoughtful approach to note-taking, you can ensure that you’re making the most of your time with the interviewer and setting yourself up for success. Good luck!

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.