Can (and should) you bring notes to an interview?

Published on February 15, 2022
Can you bring notes to an interview

If you are nervous because of an upcoming job interview and you are worried that you will just shut down and completely lose your words, then you might consider bringing a few helpful notes with you. But should you bring notes to an interview?

Yes, you can bring notes to an interview. However, what matters is how you use them. If your interviewers ask you straightforward questions and you answer with pre-written answers from your notes, then this will make you seem unprepared. Use them only for quick references and fact-checking.

But you might be worried about how the people who are interviewing you are going to react when they ask you a question and you say "One moment please, let me just take a look at my notes real quick."

Well, as a person who has interviewed and screened a considerable number of job applicants, I can tell you that bringing notes to an interview can be a double-edged sword.

So here are all the things that you should consider before deciding what to do.

Is it okay to bring notes to an interview?

Is it okay to bring notes to an interview

If you have had an extensive career, working for various companies and organizations, it would be perfectly fine to refer to your notes if there is a precise fact or a number that you would like to share.

But is it acceptable to bring notes to an interview if you have little or no previous experience? Sure! And here are my recommendations on how to do it correctly.

  • Bringing notes to a job interview would be acceptable when you have several questions that you would like to ask about the company or the position you are applying for.
  • Ask your interviewer if it would be okay to sometimes refer to the notes that you have brought.
  • Don't read your notes out loud like you are reciting some line from a play. Instead, prepare in advance, know your notes well and use them as reminders.
  • When you need to refer to them, just take a quick look, then turn your attention back to your interviewer and formulate your own answer.
  • Don’t search your phone for notes, this can be considered quite rude.
  • Don’t use notes in case the interview has switched to a situational phase (e.g. simulated conversation with a customer).

There are acceptable ways to use notes that won't make you seem unprepared. On the contrary, if done right, it will show your interviewer that you are an organized person who takes the time to prepare properly. For example, you can bring a note with additional references in case the once you listed in your resume did not respond.

Can you use notes during a video interview

You can use notes during a video interview as long as you just refer to them from time to time rather than read entire answers out loud.

Even if you situate your notes in a way that they won't be seen by your interviewer, or better yet to have a window open on your screen, reading answers out loud can sound unnatural and your interviewer might pick up on that.

Simply take a quick look when you need to, don't try to hide it, and use the reminder from your notes to formulate your own answer.

If you are nervous and inexperienced, simply ask a family member or a friend to practice the interview.

You will be able to find similar interview questions related to the position you are applying for online. Just give them to your relative/friend and practice the interview a few times before the actual video call.

So is it ok to take notes during a Zoom interview? Sure, just make sure to do it in a way that won’t slow down the interview itself. Respect the time of your interviewers.

Should you take notes during an interview?

Should you take notes during an interview

Is it ok to take notes during an interview? Sure, you can. And you will definitely stand out if you do it. This way you will seem engaged and interested in the position. By doing it you communicate that you are a well-organized and precise person.

I have rarely seen job applicants do that during interviews.

But you also need to consider the fact that the act of taking notes might be seen as a sign that later on, you will be comparing your scribings from the different job interviews you've been through.

I am not saying this is a bad thing but keep that in mind if you are presenting yourself as somebody who really wants to work for a specific company.

Taking notes during an interview is just fine if you are doing it efficiently without taking too much time and taking down the interview at a snail’s pace. Another great way to appear more professional and competent during a job interview is to wear glasses.

Why is it important to take notes during an interview?

It is important to take notes during a job interview if this is just one of several interviews you will be going through in the upcoming days. You might start to mix things up and become confused after the third one or so.

Don’t take chances and simply take notes during your job interviews so you can refer to them later on.

This way you will be able to compare salary numbers, employee benefits, responsibilities, and other position-related details. Also, you should definitely check our guide on how to negotiate salary without losing the job offer.

Besides, by taking notes, you will definitely appear like a very organized person to your interviewer. As I said, I have rarely seen people taking notes during the interviews that I have attended.

Interviewer taking notes during an interview – what does it mean?

If you notice that your interviewer is taking notes during an interview, then it is because they want to make sure that they will be able to remember what you said and exactly how you impressed them.

After all, they probably have to interview some other people as well so notes are almost mandatory.

However, I can definitely say that it is a good sign if your interviewer is taking notes on you. In my experience, HR staff members and managers take notes on candidates when they are impressed by them and consider hiring them. Also, don't forget to dress appropriately for your job interview.

Key takeaways

  • It is okay to bring notes to a job interview as long as you use them only as a quick reference check.
  • Don’t write down entire sentences and read them out loud as answers to your Interviewer’s questions.
  • Make sure to arrive a bit early for your job interview and go over your notes if you have a chance.
  • You can use notes during a video interview in the same manner.
  • Taking notes during a work interview is perfectly acceptable, just make sure to do it quickly.
  • If your interviewer is taking notes during the interview, it is probably a good sign and you will be considered for the position.
Written by:
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Alex Alexiev
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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