QUESTION: I’ve heard I should take notes during my interview. How do I do that while still paying attention and making eye contact?
Keep in mind that your focus is to ensure that you have a positive interview experience! Therefore, during the interview, jot down a few keywords to help you remember a particular topic instead of trying to transcribe the interview conversation word-for-word. That way, your note-taking is not a distraction and you’re at the top of your game to ace the interview!
Taking notes during an interview shows that you are listening carefully and have a true interest in the company and the role. I’ve always kept a padfolio on my lap during interviews. To reinforce focused attention while taking notes, look up periodically and nod your head that you heard what they were saying. A smile goes a long way too. Also, take brief notes; it’s not a novel.
First, ask the interviewer if she/he minds you taking notes; most will take it as a good sign. Then just jot down major points, or questions, while trying to keep eye contact throughout the conversation. If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, say: “Give me a sec, I’d like to write that down so I can get back to you.” The interviewer will respect that. If not, that’s a red flag.
Set the stage by asking, “Do you mind my taking notes.” Rarely will they say no. Write key words, not sentences. Prepare a list of symbols ahead of time that will expand the meaning of your quick notes; for example, a symbol for “important” or one for “follow up on this.” Most importantly, listen first and maintain eye contact before trying to write any note. This will help maintain eye contact.
Simply explain that you will be taking a few notes to make the most of the conversation. Ask if that’s ok. If you want to write, nod your head once or twice look back up to show you’re still engaged while writing. Make it your goal to write only those things that are critical; to capture the high points–not everything that is said. You can take time afterward to jot more down from memory.
The essential task in any in-person interview process is to create a positive bond with the interviewer(s). This dynamic connection can be accomplished via charisma, eye contact, smiling, giving unhesitating answers, and providing concise, relevant responses, coupled with examples of your achievements in work settings. If taking notes interferes with any of the above, it may be counterproductive.
Every successful professional knows that it makes sense to take notes at a business meeting, and what meeting is more important than a job interview?! Simply begin the interview by asking “do you mind if I take notes” and then open your notepad and jot down key points the interviewer shares that you would like to ask about or discuss further. You’re not transcribing every word – just key points!
First of all, ask your interviewer, “Do you mind if I take some notes?” Then, as the interview progresses, jot down key points about the company, specific job, and any projects or specific needs that arise during your conversation. Make eye contact in between writing, and ask questions related to notes you’ve taken. This will show interviewers that you’re fully engaged in the process.
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