Can You Bring Notes to an Interview? Breaking Down the Dos and Don’ts


In the maze of job interview preparations, candidates often ponder over the appropriateness of bringing notes to an interview. It’s a valid concern—after all, you want to appear prepared, not dependent. This article will explore the nuances of bringing notes to an interview, helping you navigate this grey area with grace and professionalism.

The Short Answer: Yes, But…

The straightforward answer is yes, you can bring notes to an interview, but there’s a fine line between being prepared and appearing overly reliant on them. Notes can serve as a safety net, providing a quick reference and ensuring you don’t miss out on highlighting key points or questions. However, their use should be discreet and strategic.

Dos of Bringing Notes to an Interview

  • Prepare Concisely: Your notes should be brief and well-organized. Think of them as bullet points or quick reminders rather than full sentences or paragraphs. This makes it easier to glance at them without losing the flow of conversation.
  • Highlight Your Questions: It’s impressive to have thoughtful questions prepared for your interviewer. Listing these questions in your notes shows foresight and a genuine interest in the position and company.
  • Showcase Your Research: Jotting down some facts about the company or specific projects can help you weave these details into the conversation, demonstrating your enthusiasm and thorough preparation.
  • Use as a Prompt for Examples: You might have specific achievements or experiences you want to share. Notes can help ensure you cover your most compelling examples without rambling or forgetting key details.

Don’ts of Bringing Notes to an Interview

  • Over-Reliance: Relying too heavily on your notes can disrupt the natural flow of conversation and may signal to the interviewer that you’re unable to speak confidently about your experiences and qualifications.
  • Reading Directly: Glancing at your notes is acceptable; reading from them is not. An interview is a two-way conversation, not a presentation. Maintain eye contact and engage with your interviewer.
  • Disorganised Presentation: Bringing a sheaf of papers or a cluttered notebook can give off an impression of disorganization. Keep your notes tidy and accessible, ideally in a professional folder or notebook.
  • Ignoring Non-Verbal Cues: If your interviewer seems put off by your use of notes, it’s wise to put them aside. Being adaptable and responsive to the interviewer’s style is crucial.

Navigating the Interview with Notes

When used judiciously, notes can enhance your interview performance by serving as a subtle aid. Here are a few tips on how to integrate notes into your interview seamlessly:

  • Refer to Them Sparingly: Use your notes as a reference point rather than a script. This allows you to remain engaged in the conversation while ensuring you don’t miss out on key points.
  • Be Transparent: If you plan to refer to your notes, it’s polite to mention this at the start of the interview. A simple statement like, “I’ve brought some notes to ensure I don’t miss any important points” can suffice.
  • Practice: Familiarize yourself with your notes before the interview so that you can quickly find the information you need without fumbling.

In Conclusion

Bringing notes to an interview can be a strategic move, provided they’re used sparingly and appropriately. They should enhance your ability to communicate your value, not serve as a crutch. Remember, the goal is to demonstrate your qualifications, confidence, and interest in the position. With careful preparation and mindful use of notes, you can strike the perfect balance between being prepared and being present, leaving a lasting impression on your interviewer.

In the end, whether or not to bring notes is a personal decision. However, by following these guidelines, you can ensure that if you do decide to bring them, they will serve as an asset rather than a liability, helping you navigate your interview with confidence and poise.

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