Can You Take Notes Into An Interview?

Summary - Taking notes into an interview is acceptable and can showcase your preparedness, but they should be used sparingly to maintain a natural....conversational flow and avoid over-reliance, ensuring a balance between being well-organized and engaging spontaneously.

When preparing for an interview, you aim to present yourself in the best possible light, showcasing your skills, experience, and fit for the role. But amidst this preparation, a common question often arises: is taking notes during a job interview acceptable? This dilemma is more than just a matter of personal preference; it touches on the core of interview etiquette and the delicate balance between being well-prepared and appearing overly reliant on prompts.

This blog will explore the nuances of taking notes into an interview. From understanding the subtle rules of interview conduct to examining the pros and cons of bringing notes, we aim to provide you with comprehensive guidelines and best practices for the UK market. Whether you’re experienced or just entering the workforce, exploring interview preparation can be complex. Let’s dig deeper into an essential aspect of this process: Can you take notes into an interview?

Section 1: Understanding Interview Etiquette And Rules

Section 1: Understanding Interview Etiquette And Rules

General Interview Note-Taking Etiquette

General interview note-taking etiquette involves several essential aspects, including preparation tips, understanding UK-specific guidelines, adhering to interview etiquette and rules, being aware of the legal elements of note-taking, implementing effective interview strategies and best practices, finding ways to remember interview details and understanding the policies around recording interviews in the UK. Let’s break these down:

Interview Preparation Tips

  • Research the company and role.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask.
  • Review your CV and be ready to discuss your experience.
  • Practise your responses to common interview questions.

UK Interview Guidelines

  • Dress appropriately for the industry.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Be polite and professional.
  • Understand the typical format of interviews in the UK, which may include competency-based questions.

Interview Etiquette And Rules

  • Listen attentively.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Take brief notes, but ensure they do not distract from the conversation.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.

Legal Aspects Of Note-Taking In An Interview

  • When recording personal information, be aware of data protection laws (like GDPR).
  • Obtain consent if you wish to record the interview.
  • Keep notes professional and non-discriminatory.

Interview Strategies And Best Practices

  • Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses.
  • Show enthusiasm and ask insightful questions.
  • Tailor your responses to align with the company’s values and the job role.

How to Remember Interview Details

  • Take concise notes focusing on critical points.
  • Review your notes soon after the interview to reinforce your memory.
  • Use mnemonic devices if necessary to remember specific details.

Interview Recording Policies In The UK

  • Recording an interview without consent is generally not advised and may be illegal.
  • If recording is necessary, ask for permission first and explain the purpose.
  • Ensure that recordings are stored securely and used only for the intended purpose.

Master the art of interviewing with strategies that highlight your strengths and preparation.

Section 2: The Pros Of Bringing Notes

Section 2: The Pros Of Bringing Notes

1. Demonstrating Preparedness 

Notes show you’ve thoughtfully prepared for the interview, indicating a strong interest in the position and a proactive career approach.

2. Organisational Skills

Well-structured notes reflect your ability to organise information effectively, a valuable trait in many job roles.

3. Reference for Key Points: 

Notes help ensure you cover all essential topics and questions, enhancing the interview conversation.

4. Stress Reduction: 

Notes can lessen interview anxiety by providing a safety net if you lose your train of thought. Meanwhile, wipe off your stress bud with iCover’s CV writing service.

Section 3: The Cons Of Bringing Notes

1. Risk of Over-Dependence 

Excessive reliance on notes may suggest underpreparedness or lack of confidence, as you may be unable to speak freely about your experiences.

2. Distraction from the Conversation 

Constantly referring to notes can disrupt the natural flow of dialogue and hinder rapport building, turning the interview into a less engaging, more scripted interaction.

3. Impact on Communication Skills 

Overusing notes might lead to missing non-verbal cues and failing to maintain eye contact, which are crucial to effective communication.

4. Questioning Your Authenticity 

If responses are read verbatim from notes, interviewers might doubt their authenticity, perceiving them as rehearsed rather than genuine. 

5. Perception of Lack of Adaptability 

A heavy reliance on notes can imply a challenge in handling spontaneous or quick decision-making scenarios, which are essential in many job roles.

Section 4: How To Prepare Your Notes

Section 4: How To Prepare Your Notes

Tips For Preparing Interview Notes

Keep It Concise

Your notes should be brief and to the point. Avoid long paragraphs; instead, use bullet points or short phrases. This format makes it easier to quickly glance at your notes without losing your place in the conversation.

Highlight Key Topics

Organise your notes into critical topics you want to discuss or remember. This could include your skills, specific experiences relevant to the job, or notable achievements. Think of them as prompts to jog your memory rather than detailed scripts.

Use Keywords 

Rather than writing complete sentences, use words or phrases that will remind you of the point you want to make. This technique helps in keeping your responses more natural and less rehearsed. 

Readable Format 

Ensure your notes are easy to read at a glance. Use clear handwriting or a legible font size if printed. Some candidates prefer using index cards, which are easy to organise and handle discreetly.

What To Include In Your Notes

Questions for the Interviewer 

Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer. This shows your interest in the role and the company. Tailor these questions to the specific job and company to demonstrate that you’ve done your research.

Key Points About Your Experience

Include bullet points about your relevant experiences, particularly those that align closely with the job description. Highlight the unique skills or experiences that set you apart from other candidates—strategies for crafting a compelling cover letter that complements your CV and appeals to employers.

Company Research 

Jot down some key facts about the company, such as recent achievements, company values, or specific projects that interest you. This demonstrates your initiative in understanding the company and its industry.


It can be beneficial to note down personal cues, like a reminder to pace your speech if you usually talk fast or to remember to maintain eye contact and smile.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it appropriate to bring water to an interview?

Yes, it’s generally acceptable to bring water to an interview. A bottle of water is practical, especially if the interview is lengthy. It shows self-care and can help you stay comfortable and focused. However, ensure it’s subtle and doesn’t distract from the interview process.

Is it appropriate to inform the interviewer if you’re feeling anxious?

Yes, it’s appropriate to tell the interviewer you’re anxious. Doing so can humanise you and make you more relatable. Most interviewers understand that interviews can be stressful and may appreciate your honesty. Acknowledging nerves can also help ease them, allowing you to focus better on your responses.

What is not allowed in an interview?

During an interview, it’s crucial to maintain professional conduct. This means avoiding disrespect, refraining from using offensive language, dressing appropriately, and showing genuine interest in the position. It’s equally important not to falsify or overstate your qualifications, experiences, or skills. Steer clear of contentious subjects or personal inquiries irrelevant to the job role.

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