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Submitted by efredlund on


When I'm an interviewee, and I've reached the end of the interview and am asking the interviewer questions, is it appropriate for me to take out a blank piece of paper from my interview portfolio and take some brief notes while she is answering my questions?

I'm guessing the answer is "No" because of the cons I've listed below, but I'd be interested in getting input from forum members with a lot of experience conducting interviews.

From listening to the podcasts in the Interviewing series I know that:

- I should NOT refer to my notecards or take notes while I'm being asked questions

- I should NOT refer to my notecard which lists the questions I want to ask (I must have them memorized)

- I should have a pen and a blank piece of paper in my interview portfolio

Here's what I see as the Pros and Cons:


  • Taking brief notes could signal to the interviewer that I'm interested her answers
  • If I'm interviewing with multiple people at the company that day, there is a chance I won't remember some of the key points in their answers.  
  • I wouldn't sit down with my boss without my notebook and pen, shouldn't I take notes when my potential future boss is talking to me?


  • It could break the flow of the conversation.  I'd have to open my interview portfolio, take out a piece of paper, and take out and open my pen.
  • The interviewer might think I'm an idiot if I can't remember his key points without writing them down.


mattpalmer's picture

I think I've taken a notepad and pen to every interview I've ever gone to as a professional, and I've got a pretty good history of landing jobs I want.  As an interviewer, I interpret taking notes as a sign of a good professional, and I would never think someone's an idiot if they can't remember the key points we've talked about.  I know that the brain is for thinking, not remembering, and I look askance at anyone who says "don't worry, I've got a great memory", or acts in a way that sends a similar message, whether they be candidate, team memory, peer, boss, friend, or spouse.

As far as not interrupting the flow of conversation, I solve that problem by having my questions memorised, and by having the notepad ready to go all through the interview, just in case I want to make a note of anything during the interview.  I won't have it open, with pen poised, from the moment the interviewer shakes my hand, but I'm well practiced at opening my notepad and picking up my pen while continuing a conversation, and without breaking eye contact.  When I think there's notes to be taken, I'll just crack open the pad and start writing.  It's a skill that is very useful at all times, not just during interviews.

dmb41carter36's picture

I am with Matt on this one. I've always taken notes. Honestly, it was for myself. I'm trying to weigh if I want the job too. Especially when they are telling you all the details of the job. Everything is happening so fast, that it can be difficult if not impossible to remember everything. I especially remember using my notebook when it was my turn to ask the questions. This is especially important if you have a significant other you need to talk with about the opportunity. For example, my wife asked about quite few things I wasn't even concerned with. Had I not written them down, I would have had to either guess or go back to the interviewer.