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The answer to the question: can you bring notes to an interview?

The answer to the question: can you bring notes to an interview?

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • Can you bring notes to an interview?
  • Pros of bringing notes to an interview
  • Cons of bringing notes to an interview
  • What kind of notes should you bring?
  • Taking notes during an interview
  • Should you use digital or physical interview notes?
  • Using and taking notes during a virtual interview
  • General interview tips
  • Key takeaways

Finally answer the pressing question: can you bring notes to an interview? Learn about the advantages and pitfalls, types of notes to consider, and expert tips for a well-prepared interview.

Congratulations! You made it through the silence that immediately follows submitting a job application, and now you get the face-to-face advantage to further market your skills. But as you’re doing more research on the company and compiling all your notes, the question comes up: can you bring notes into an interview

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of bringing notes to an interview, the benefits of taking notes, and expert tips for preparing for your interview.

We cover:

  • Should you bring notes to an interview?

  • What type of notes should you bring?

  • Can you take notes during an interview?

  • General tips for preparing for the interview 

Can you bring notes to an interview?

Ideally, you want to be able to have a stellar interview without needing notes. However, interviewing can be a stressful endeavor. So, if your nerves may get the best of you, you might want to consider bringing notes to the conversation.

Most interviewers will allow pre-written notes, but it is always good etiquette to ask ahead of time. This doesn’t have to be a formal request, but rather a quick check-in as you’re sitting down. Say something along the lines of, “I wrote some things down, do you mind if I refer to my notes during the interview?”. 

Notes can serve as a quick reference guide to help you recall key points about your achievements, skills, and questions you want to ask. But you want to be careful not to constantly refer to notes so the interviewer doesn’t think you lack confidence and didn’t prepare. Let’s break down some pros and cons of bringing notes to your interview.

Pros of bringing notes to an interview

Structure responses

Notes allow you to provide comprehensive and detailed responses to interview questions, ensuring you don't overlook any critical examples from your professional experience. 

Build confidence

Having notes can provide a boost of confidence. Knowing that you have key information at your fingertips serves as reassurance that you won’t forget any points you want to make. 

Convey professionalism

Thoughtfully prepared notes demonstrate your commitment to the interview, showcasing your organization and attention to detail, which may be impressive to interviewers. 

Cons of bringing notes to an interview


Constantly referring to notes shifts the focus on maintaining eye contact with the interviewer which can be potentially distracting to both you and the interviewer.

Unnatural communication

Relying heavily on notes might hinder your ability to engage in a natural, conversational flow, making the interview feel scripted and less personal.

Becoming a crutch

Depending too much on notes may lead to stumbling or panic if you lose your place or if the interviewer asks unexpected questions that were not covered in your notes.

While notes can be beneficial if used judiciously, it's essential to strike a balance. Prioritize natural conversation and use notes as a backup to ensure you're well-prepared without compromising the authenticity of the interview. 

What kind of notes should you bring?

While the goal is to showcase your abilities seamlessly, a judicious selection of notes can serve as a valuable ally during the interview process. Here’s a list of some items you can include in your pre-written notes:

  • Questions. Show your level of interest by jotting down a few questions about the company and role.

  • Background information. Use LinkedIn to find the interviewer(s); note their names and titles.

  • Company info. Check out the company’s website and include talking points on the mission or products.

  • Salary expectations. You don’t want to stumble on this one! Write down your preferred salary range.

  • Hard numbers. Impress the interviewer by having a list of your quantifiable achievements at the ready.

  • Your resume. You might want to refer to your resume, so it’s wise to print a copy just in case.

Expert Tip

If you decide to bring pre-written notes to an interview, make sure they are organized and bulleted. This allows you to reference your notes quickly without reading verbatim and keep the conversation flowing with minimal distraction.

Taking notes during an interview

Taking notes is generally seen as a good practice. Interviewers will appreciate your interest and engagement. Writing down hard numbers on salary ranges, details about duties, schedules, or next steps can really benefit those who tend to forget everything from the interview as soon as their nerves settle afterward. As the interviewer is speaking, jot down questions that may come to mind to ask towards the end of the interview.

Best practice is to bring a small blank notebook and pen. You can leave them in your bag or set them on the table but be sure to avoid fidgeting with them during the interview. This way, if something noteworthy does come up, you’ll be prepared, but you won't be offering rehearsed answers. This is the best way to mitigate risk while also highlighting your professional value. 

  • Keep pre-written notes brief.
  • Bring a small notepad and pen.
  • Take notes about important job details, questions, or next steps.
  • Take quick glances at your notes.
  • Be personable; aim for a natural conversational flow.
  • Ask permission ahead of time.
  • Use your phone to read or take notes.
  • Bring several scattered pages full of notes.
  • Stare at your notes instead of making eye contact.
  • Always make eye contact while speaking.
  • Constantly write down everything being said.
  • Use notes or pen to fidget or doodle.

Should you use digital or physical interview notes?

There are very few instances where it would be appropriate to bring an electronic device like a laptop, tablet, or phone to an in-person interview. It should typically be discouraged as an option for taking or reading notes. Your devices should be on silent mode and kept out of sight. Pulling out your phone during an interview might make you seem dependent on your phone. If you feel the need to bring pre-written notes, use a good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Using and taking notes during a virtual interview

In today’s workforce, many companies have adopted remote and hybrid policies. This has greatly influenced the likelihood that your interview will be virtual. Virtual interviews come with their own set of guidelines for note taking. During a virtual interview, you may think it will be easy to have everything on your screen and read without the interviewer knowing.

Think again. 

It’s obvious when we are reading something on video. Our eyes give us away. Similarly, the light emitted from our screens changes as we dart from page to page. The truth is that it can’t be achieved secretly. So, ask permission from the interviewer instead of trying to trick them. 

General interview tips

You will look strongest if you spend time leading up to the interview memorizing your resume, researching the company, and rehearsing what you’ll say. Try to minimize your use of notes by investing the time to prepare for your interview. Here are some quick interview prep tips:

  • Research the company. Gain a thorough understanding of the company's values, culture, and recent achievements. This knowledge will allow you to tailor your responses to align with the company's goals.

  • Know the job description. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the role. This helps you speak directly to how your skills and experiences make you an ideal fit for the position. 

  • Practice common questions. Anticipate common interview questions and practice your responses. Focus on articulating your achievements and how they relate to the position. 

  • Prepare questions. Have thoughtful questions ready to ask the interviewer. This demonstrates your genuine interest in the company and the position. 

  • Do mock interviews. Conduct mock interviews with a coach, mentor, friend or family member to simulate the actual interview environment. This helps build confidence and enhances your ability to answer questions on the spot.

Ready to take your interview skills to the next level? With our interview prep service you'll never be stumped by an interview question again!

Key takeaways

  1. Bringing notes can structure responses, build confidence, and convey professionalism, but be careful not to let them become a distraction.

  2. Your notes can include questions for the interviewer, key company details, salary expectations, career achievements, and a copy of your resume.

  3. Keep notes brief, use a small notepad, ask permission, and avoid fidgeting during the interview.

  4. Aim to minimize using notes by preparing for the interview; research the company, familiarize yourself with the job description, and practice interviewing.

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