Should I take notes during the interview?

Nancy Anderson
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Experts sometimes disagree about whether or not you should take notes during an interview. Those who oppose it do so passionately, saying it immediately makes them uncomfortable to have a candidate whip out a notebook and a pen. However, the majority of interview experts do approve of note taking, considering it a professional move. It demonstrates real interest and organization to most employers. As you decide if it is something you want or need to do during an interview, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Note taking is a good idea because it encourages you to listen instead of talk. A good rule of thumb is that you should only do 20% of the talking in the interview with the remaining 80% to be done by the interviewer.

2. The best thing you can do in an interview is to ask permission to take notes. Simply say, “Do you mind if I takes notes?” and your potential employer will be impressed with your foresight and courtesy.

3. Your interviewer is also likely to be taking notes and may invite you to take them as well. It impresses interviewers that you are really prepared to take notes. You ca refer to them later in the interview, when looking for a question you jotted down. This all demonstrates organization and attention to detail.

4. Bring a notebook and a nice pen. The professional appearance of what you will carry with you are as important as your clothes. Don’t bring a pencil and loose leaf paper. Don’t write on the back of your parking stub. Only take notes if you are prepared with appropriate material.

5. Maintain open and interested body language, even while you take notes. Don’t let the interviewer talk to the top of your head as you are bent over your notebook writing furiously. Maintain eye contact throughout and make the note taking look secondary to your active listening.

6. Only take notes while the interviewer is speaking. Don’t jot down notes while you are answering questions. Remember, your note taking is secondary to getting the job at hand. You only want it to be a value added item in your interview, not a hindrance to a real connection with your interviewer.

7. What about electronic devices? Some people take notes on a Blackberry, as well as use them for a phone, calendar and internet device. Whether or not to take these into interviews largely depends on the industry for which you are applying. For tech companies, having an electronic device is more likely to be a plus, and at the very least, appreciated. Potential employers like that you can often schedule another interview right then and there.

Keep these tips in mind and you will find that note taking can be of great advantage in an interview. Be thoughtful and courteous about what to bring in with you to the interview and about when and where to be writing your notes.

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Becky Papp has been a professional writer for 20 years, working for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications. She currently contracts for clients all over the world, writing online and print articles, newsletters, blogs, and e-books. She resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

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