Is It OK to Take Notes During an Interview? [Best Practices Revealed]

is it ok to take notes during an interview

Taking notes during a job interview can be a helpful way to capture important details, questions to ask later, or topics to revisit. It can also demonstrate to the interviewer that you are attentive and engaged with the conversation.

However, there are considerate ways to incorporate note-taking without disrupting the flow of the interview.

The decision to take notes should be guided by the context of the interview and the cues from your interviewer.

Adopting the best practices of note-taking can not only aid in your understanding of the job role but also in reflecting your organizational skills.

It is important to balance the act of note-taking with maintaining eye contact and active listening.

Key Takeaways

  • Note-taking during an interview can showcase your attention to detail.
  • Balanced note-taking reflects good organizational skills and engagement.
  • Adapting to the interviewer’s cues is crucial for proper interview etiquette.

The Importance of Note-Taking

Note-taking during an interview can be an essential tool to help you stay organized and present yourself as a thorough and prepared candidate.

A female professional, looking engaged and thoughtful, sitting at a polished wooden table during a job interview. She's holding a pen and notepad, poised to jot down key points, while maintaining eye contact with the interviewer, a figure blurred in the background to emphasize focus on the note-taking.

Improving Recall with Notes

Note-taking can significantly enhance your memory.

During the conversational flow of an interview, it’s easy to lose track of important information shared by the interviewer.

By jotting down key points as they’re mentioned, you create a written record that helps in accurately recalling details, which can be useful for post-interview follow-ups or reflections.

Boosting Confidence Through Organization

A clear structure in your note-taking implies a high level of organization, which can boost your confidence during the interview.

Not only do notes help in structuring your responses, but they also provide cues and reminders to ensure you cover all the points you intend to.

This organization can yield a more compelling portrayal of your candidacy, as you articulate your fit for the role with assurance.

Technology and Notes

When considering taking notes during an interview, it’s crucial to choose between using digital devices like laptops and tablets or sticking with traditional pen and paper.

A male professional, looking concentrated and efficient, using a tablet to take notes during a casual meeting. The setting is a modern, well-lit coworking space, symbolizing the blend of technology and traditional work environments. The individual's expression and posture suggest a comfortable familiarity with digital tools, balancing attention between the device and an unseen conversational partner across the table.

Using Digital Devices for Notes

Laptops and tablets enhance your note-taking process through speed and organization.

If you’re proficient at typing, you might capture more information with a laptop than you could with pen and paper.

Modern note-taking is even more efficient thanks to AI-powered applications that offer features like automatic transcription and keyword search.

  • Pros:
    • Quick typing can capture more detail.
    • Digital notes are easily searchable and can be organized systematically.
    • Some applications can synchronize across devices, allowing you to access your notes anywhere.
  • Cons:
    • Devices can be intrusive or distracting.
    • They require battery power and sometimes internet connection.
    • Typing sounds may be disruptive in a quiet interview setting.

Pen and Paper Versus Electronics

On the other hand, using a traditional pen and paper is less obtrusive and can be seen as more respectful in an interview scenario.

Maintaining eye contact and engaging with the interviewer tend to be easier when you’re not behind a screen.

  • Advantages of pen and paper include:
    • Simplicity and reliability – no worries about battery life.
    • The act of writing by hand can aid in memory retention.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Physical notes are less versatile. They cannot be searched or rearranged like digital notes.
    • It may be slower than typing, which might limit the amount of information you can record.

When deciding on a method, consider the environment of your interview and balance the need for thorough notes with the potential drawbacks of your chosen tool.

Whether you go digital or stick to a classic notebook, your method should facilitate an attentive and respectful interview experience.

Interacting With Your Interviewer

Taking notes during an interview can be beneficial for keeping track of important details and showing engagement in the conversation. However, it’s essential to manage this process with courtesy and professionalism, ensuring it does not disrupt the flow of the interview or the connection with your interviewer.

A candid shot of a female professional, looking attentive and respectful, as she asks for permission to take notes, depicted by her subtle gesture towards her notepad. The interviewer, partially visible and out of focus, nods in agreement, highlighting a moment of understanding and respect between the candidate and the interviewer.

Seeking Permission to Take Notes

Before you begin to take notes, it’s courteous to ask for consent from the interviewer.

Simply stating, “Do you mind if I take a few notes during our conversation?” demonstrates respect for their presence and acknowledges their control over the interview environment.

Gaining permission not only sets a cooperative tone but also ensures that you align with the interviewer’s expectations.

Maintaining Eye Contact

While taking notes, remember to maintain eye contact with your interviewer.

This non-verbal cue is crucial in building rapport and showing attentiveness.

It may help to periodically look up from your notepad or device to reaffirm your engagement.

Utilize shorthand or concise phrases to minimize the time spent looking away, thereby maximizing eye contact and maintaining a personal connection.

Etiquette and Best Practices

Taking notes during an interview can convey attentiveness and engagement to the interviewer. Ensure that your note-taking is well-organized and does not detract from the conversation.

A close-up shot capturing the hands of a young male professional as he writes brief notes on a notepad, using shorthand. The focus is on the notepad, with a professional, muted background that suggests an interview setting. His expression, glimpsed in partial profile, is one of focused attention, underscoring the importance of balancing note-taking with engagement.

When and What to Write

  • Timing: Choose moments to jot down notes when there is a pause, or the interviewer provides detailed information that you wish to remember.
  • Content: Focus on capturing key points, such as specific interview questions, aspects of the job you’re interested in, or follow-up topics to ask about later.
Write down key points mentioned by the interviewerWrite continuously, capturing everything said
Use shorthand to stay engagedAllow writing to distract you from making eye contact

Minimizing Distractions

  • Note-taking format: Opt for a professional notebook and a pen that won’t fail.
  • Distraction management: Ensure your note-taking is silent and unobtrusive to maintain the flow of the conversation.
To Minimize DistractionsConsider
Write succinctly and quietlyUsing bullet points or symbols to be efficient
Position your notebook appropriatelyIt shouldn’t block your face or appear as a barrier

After the Interview

Once your interview is completed, your notes can be an invaluable asset for effectively following up with the company and reflecting on your performance to gain insights.

A female professional, looking reflective and satisfied, sitting at a café table post-interview. She's reviewing her notes and typing on a laptop, preparing a personalized thank-you note. The warm, inviting atmosphere of the café suggests a moment of relaxation and reflection, with a soft focus on the background to draw attention to her thoughtful preparation.

Utilizing Notes for Follow-Up

Your notes should guide you in crafting a personalized thank-you note to the interviewer.

Detail specific points discussed and express gratitude for the opportunity.

This demonstrates your attentiveness and interest in the role. Here’s a quick template for reference:

Thank-You Note Structure:

  1. Opening: Start with a polite greeting and thank them for the interview.
  2. Body: Mention a topic from your notes that was particularly interesting.
  3. Closing: Reiterate your appreciation and interest in the position.

Reviewing Notes for Feedback

After an interview, review your notes to identify areas where you excelled or could improve.

Reflect on questions that challenged you and use this feedback for personal growth.

This will help you enhance your performance in future interviews. Keep the feedback structured as follows:

  • Strengths: List specifics about what went well.
  • Improvement Points: Note any question or topic that was difficult for you.
  • Action Items: For each improvement point, write down steps on how to get better.

By utilizing and reviewing your notes post-interview, you reinforce the experience learned and set a foundation for continued professional development.

Specific Situations

When you’re navigating different interview environments or handling sensitive material, understanding the norms and expectations around note-taking is essential.

A young male professional, looking adaptable and composed, sitting at a home office desk during a video interview. He has a notepad to his side and is making eye contact with the screen, where the interviewer is implied but not shown. This setup captures the hybrid nature of modern interviews, balancing traditional note-taking with digital communication.

Note-Taking in Video Interviews

In video interviews, the dynamics of note-taking can shift due to the technological medium.

It’s advisable to have your notes organized beforehand on a separate screen or physical notepad.

This preparation allows you to reference key points, such as questions about the company website or details about the job description.

It’s also crucial to maintain eye contact with the interviewer to show engagement.

Dealing with Confidential Information

When the discussion turns to confidential information, exercise caution.

If you’re given sensitive details, it’s appropriate to:

  1. Ask for permission before noting anything down.
  2. Use discretion with the information disclosed to you.
  3. Make a note to follow up on points that involve confidential issues, rather than recording them verbatim.

For instance, if presented with a problem the company is facing:

  • “I understand this is sensitive, so I’ll make sure to keep the details confidential.”

Developing Your Skills

Taking notes during interviews is a multi-faceted skill set that enhances your ability to capture key information and reflect on the conversation later. It’s crucial for becoming an adept interviewer and ensuring you accurately assess and remember candidate details.

A group of professionals during a workshop, with a young male professional in the foreground taking notes. He looks engaged and eager to learn, highlighting the value of active participation and skill development in professional settings. The workshop facilitator, slightly out of focus in the background, points to a visual aid, emphasizing the interactive nature of the learning environment.

Improving Interview Skills

Your interview skills are honed not only through practice but also through careful note-taking.

  • Active Listening: Note-taking requires you to listen actively. By writing down important points, you are training your mind to pinpoint essential information.
  • Clear Communication: Jotting down notes can help clarify questions or follow-up points, ensuring you communicate effectively.

You can practice these skills by conducting mock interviews and studying different note-taking methods that cater to fast-paced conversations.

Building on Experience and Expertise

Every interview is an opportunity to build on your existing experience and expertise.

AspectHow Notes Help Enhance
ExperienceBy taking notes, you create a personal database of interview scenarios that you can reflect on and learn from.
ExpertiseNotes help you identify patterns and skills that are essential in your field, contributing to your growth as an expert.

Incorporate notes into your professional development plan by reviewing and improving upon them as part of your reflection process.

Pros and Cons of Note-Taking

In interviews, taking notes can manage a balance between being thoroughly engaged and retaining critical information. However, it’s essential to consider how this practice is perceived and its practical implications.

Advantages of Taking Notes

  1. Enhanced Recall: By taking notes, you solidify your understanding of key points discussed during the interview. This may help in formulating thoughtful follow-up questions or referencing specific topics in post-interview communication.
  2. Demonstration of Engagement: Your note-taking can show the interviewer your interest in the position and that you’re taking the conversation seriously.

Challenges and Potential Drawbacks

  1. Distraction Risk: Excessive note-taking may distract both you and the interviewer. It’s crucial to maintain eye contact and engage in the conversation rather than focusing solely on your notes.
  2. Misinterpretation: There’s a chance that your note-taking may be perceived as a lack of confidence in your memory or even a disconnection from the interpersonal aspect of the interview.


In consideration of the points discussed, taking notes during an interview can be a positive practice.

Provided you maintain a respectful and engaged demeanor, your note-taking can enhance the quality of your post-interview reflection and follow-up.


  • Helps in retaining details: You can reference specific points later.
  • Displays interest: Notes illustrate attentiveness to the interviewer’s comments.
  • Aids follow-up communications: Customized thank-you letters or emails can draw on points made during the discussion.


  • Keep it minimal: Distraction for either party should be avoided; limit note-taking to brief pauses.
  • Seek permission: It is polite and shows respect for privacy and intellectual property.
  • Focus on the conversation: Ensure that your note-taking does not impede eye contact or the natural flow of the interview.

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