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During an interview, its important to show one's enthusiasm and interest in the job applied for. Taking brief notes in an interview shows the candidate is focused, and engaged and provides material valuable for post interview follow up message. Referring to specific points made in the interview that helps the candidate stand out in an otherwise sea of candidates.

However, such a practice can also make the candidate seem distracted / scatter - brained and detracts with establishing a conductive dialog between interviewer - candidate. Personal connection helps and is usually viewed positively.

What are things to keep in mind to avoid taking notes looking negatively? Will it be a positive or negative impression?

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    Hi Anthony, I clarified your question slightly to make it more on topic here! – enderland Feb 4 '15 at 22:06
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    If you need notes then fine but don't do it to show enthusiasm. Answer questions directly. During the course of the interview you should have questions. Good questions are as important as good questions. – paparazzo Feb 4 '15 at 22:47
  • @Blam Good questions are as important as good answers perhaps? – nhgrif Feb 5 '15 at 1:19
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    possible duplicate of Is it appropriate to make notes when being interviewed? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 15 '15 at 15:03
  • @Chad lol, I flagged the other question as a duplicate of this one – Anthony Sep 15 '15 at 21:33
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Wow, that candidate was taking notes on what we said during the interview? They care about details and making a good decision? What a loser! We only want people who don't bother ensuring they can details. REJECT.

Said no hiring manager ever.

Taking notes is fine and can make you appear detail oriented and attentive to detail. Keep in mind:

  • Taking notes regarding questions you ask is good. You can ask, "I am going to jot down some information so I don't forget if that's alright" too if you are still worried.
  • Don't fidget or play with your pen/pencil. If you can't not do this, don't take notes.
  • Take notes on paper, not electronic devices. Many people see electronics as distractions regardless of what you use them for.
  • Avoid taking notes when someone is directly talking to you.
  • If you have specific questions you want to ask, leave space after them for the answers so when you write them it looks much more planned
  • Only write down notes for new information. Don't write down everything.
  • Write down the names of those who interview you - titles, too, if you can get them.

There is a lot of information worth writing down in interviews. You will not remember everything you want from a 30 min interview let alone longer interviews. Having information to review after an interview(s) can make your decision making process much easier.

I have done this in many interviews and had it received positively 100% of the time.

  • Hmmh it seems that you and Chris below disagree on this issue. Engaged and detail oriented vs. having a poor memory – Anthony Feb 4 '15 at 22:08
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    Asking politely, "Can I write this down?" or "I am going to write this down so I don't forget, if that's all right" seems good to me. I don't see how an interviewer would takes this badly. – Ronnie W Feb 4 '15 at 22:09
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    @Anthony if you take notes tactfully and well no hiring manager you want to work for will look down on you. Do it obnoxiously, sure, it will reflect poorly - but so will all other aspects of interviewing. – enderland Feb 4 '15 at 22:12
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    Agree on the electronic devices, people won't know if you are answering something in your Facebook feed (yes there are people who do this) or taking notes and may assume the first. – HLGEM Feb 4 '15 at 22:22
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    Also write down bullets not complete sentences. For instance, sometimes whent eh interviewr is talking you might hear somethign you want to follow up on but don't want to interrupt. Write down one or two words to remind you wht to ask, not a whole book. Shorter notes make is easier to appear to the interviewer that you are paying attention. If you can learn to take notes without losing eye contact, that is good too. – HLGEM Feb 4 '15 at 22:29
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What are things to keep in mind to avoid taking notes looking negatively?

At the beginning of the interview, ask your interviewer "Do you mind if I take notes while we chat?" Then proceed based on the answer you get.

Even if you do take notes, pay careful attention to what is being said and asked rather than attention to your notes. You don't want to be distracted by trying to record everything. And if you aren't able to jot quick notes while listening attentively, then don't.

Will it be a positive or negative impression?

There's no way to know for sure.

Some interviewers don't mind, and some interviewers even keep notes of their own (I do).

Other interviewers might consider it a negative that you aren't able to remember things that are said.

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