In the past when I've been interviewed, I often find myself trying to make 'mental notes' about potential questions or things I should mention. I usually bring two copies of my CV with me, but would it be appropriate to have a small notebook (like a moleskin) and a pen and jot notes.

Jotting in a notebook is something i would almost always do when doing my job, so I think it should be allowable during interview, but maybe it would be viewed as rude, or not paying attention.


4 Answers 4


I bring:

  • A portfolio like this
  • A list of typed questions I have to ask (in the portfolio)
  • A couple extra resumes
  • A nice looking pen (ie not basic bic pen)
  • Supplemental material as necessary (portfolio, information about the company, printed things such as their mission/vision/etc, project plans/suggestions, other stuff like this)

The portfolio lets you bring everything else, store stuff they give you, and look more prepared. For $10 to $20 you can make yourself look far more professional and it helps avoid the "what do I do with my hands" problem (hold the portfolio!).

Typed questions lets you say, "I had a few questions I was hoping to ask, you have covered some, but would you be answer the others?"

I've made use of my extra resumes a ton. It's always really helpful to be able to look at your resume when someone else says, "tell me about some of the stuff on your resume." You don't want to blank on what your resume actually says.

The pen is obvious, but, make sure you don't fidget/spin it.

Supplemental material is optional but beneficial. At my last interview I brought a typed up, less than one page, "here's what I'm assuming the expectations for 30, 60, 90 days are" document I put together, which allowed myself and the interviewer to talk about this as if I already had the job which absolutely helped sell the job. "Here's what my assumptions about my first few months and expectations, how well do they line up?" is a great question to ask.

A warning - don't use a phone/tablet unless you are confident you will be seen as taking notes and not showing disrespect (or willing to take that risk). Many, many people will see this as disrespectful even if you do the same as taking paper notes.

This seems unfair and indeed it might be. But unfortunately you play by the rules of the interviewers, not what you want, and if you aren't willing to make that gamble, don't make it.


Absolutely. It shows that you have an interest in the position and it also allows you to write questions down that you may have but can't ask right away. It's also beneficial to come prepared with questions.

I'm not sure if I would come to an interview with a notebook. Perhaps a leather portfolio would be more professional?

  • I wouldn't worry too much about the type of notebook. If you're applying for a job where you will meet customers or are expected to be on the "high" end of things (finance, law, etc.) then it may be necessary, but if you'll just be a standard office worker then anything should be okay.
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 0:04
  • @jmac I'm speaking strictly for the interview.
    – Kermit
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 0:24
  • 4
    @jmac having a (faux) leather folio and nice pen makes you look a lot more put together than a spiral college-ruled notebook and a Bic Cristal. It's a about a $10 investment at Target that changes your whole appearance.
    – Hi pals
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 0:58
  • He mentioned a moleskin, not a college-ruled notebook and a Bic Cristal. My point is that leather isn't a necessity (no need for a super-fancy leather binder, or even faux leather), so long as it's appropriate to the setting (which will depend on what your role will be in the company, and the type of company). Sorry for any confusion!
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 1:02
  • Notebooks are fine in interviews, I might be annoyed if he was taking notes on his phone as I might assume he was bored with me and texting someone.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 14:09

I take my own notes so I don't forget to ask a question, or a followup on something one of the panel said. I have been on multiple interviews where they provide a pad, writing implement, and tell you straight out that they are there for you to take notes.

I would suggest looking at the face(s) of your interviewer(s) and seeing if anyone appears annoyed. If so, then I might consider stopping, but at that point, it might be too late. The choice would be yours, but if it helps you, then I wouldn't stop.


It is definitely not a problem, and I would probably even make a point of saying that you have some questions listed and would like to make some notes so they don't think you are doing something else or being distracted when you look down and scribble things on the notebook before the interview starts.

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