Taking good interview notes : tips and template

Plan de l'article

Picture yourself unable to compare several strong candidates because your notes are incomplete or inconsistent -so frustrating!

Taking good notes during an interview, while focusing on the candidate is a key challenge for recruiters.

Here are some tips and a ready-made template to enhance your note-taking skills, and thus ensure a fair and efficient interview process.

Why Take Notes from Your Interviews?

Let’s break down exactly why you should always have a pen and paper ready, or a digital note-taking device, during your interviews :

Accurately Record Details: You meet many candidates when hiring. Each one presents a unique set of skills and experiences. Without notes, it's challenging to keep their details straight, especially if interviews span several days.

Writing down key points as they speak helps you remember each candidate's qualifications clearly, preventing any confusion when it’s time to make hiring decisions​​.

Ensure Fair Evaluation: Your notes play a critical role in making sure each candidate is evaluated on a consistent set of criteria.

By documenting responses and notable interactions during the interview, you help ensure that your assessment is based on facts and direct observations, not just on a general impression or gut feeling.

Protect Against Legal Risks: Today's hiring practices are often scrutinized for fairness and equality.

Your interview notes are a vital piece of documentation. They can prove that your hiring decisions were based on objective criteria related to the job.

Improve Team Decision Making: If you're not the only decision-maker, your notes will inform others in the hiring process.

Detailed notes provide a clear, comprehensive view of each candidate, helping your team make well-informed decisions.

Personalize Follow-up and Onboarding: Effective notes are incredibly useful for any follow-up interviews or the eventual onboarding of new hires.

They help you quickly revisit specific areas of a candidate’s profile to explore further or to clarify any points.

Tips to Take Good Notes from Your Interviews

Effective note-taking significantly enhance your interviewing process. Here’s how you can take notes that are both comprehensive and useful :

Prepare Before the Interview

It's essential to go into each interview well-prepared. Familiarize yourself with the job description and the specific skills and qualities you are seeking.

This knowledge should guide your note-taking, helping you to focus on capturing information that directly relates to the candidate's fit for the role. Prepare your interview questions in advance and plan space in your notes to jot down answers and observations right next to each question​.

Develop a Consistent Notation System

To keep your notes clear and easy to review, develop a system of shorthand or symbols. For instance, use “+” for strengths or key qualifications and “-” for weaknesses or areas for improvement.

This method saves time during the interview and simplifies the review process later.

Focus on Key Points, Not Word-for-Word Transcripts

Instead of trying to capture every word, concentrate on the key points that the candidate makes, especially those that align with the job requirements. Take note of any specific examples they provide of past achievements or skills that are particularly relevant to the position.

This approach helps you maintain an active engagement in the conversation while ensuring you don’t miss critical information​.

Be Mindful of Non-Verbal Cues

Pay attention not only to what the candidates say but also to how they say it. Note any significant non-verbal cues such as eye contact, body language, and general demeanor.

These observations can provide additional insights into the candidate’s confidence and suitability for the role​​.

Review and Organize Your Notes Post-Interview

After each interview, spend some time organizing and filling out your notes. This is best done soon after the interview while the details are still fresh.

This step will help you clarify any points that were not fully captured during the interview and ensure your notes are comprehensive and useful for making hiring decisions​​.

Use Your Notes to Fill up an Evaluation form

Using your interview notes to complete an evaluation form helps ensure your recruitment decisions are both objective and precise. Directly apply the detailed information you've gathered to assess each candidate against specific criteria outlined on the form.

This method reduces personal biases and allows you to make consistent, data-driven decisions.

Interview Note Template

To streamline your hiring process and ensure you capture essential candidate information consistently, use this structured interview note template. This template will guide you through each interview, helping you to note down crucial details that will aid in your decision-making process.

  1. Candidate Information
    • Name:
    • Date:
    • Position Applied For:
    • Interviewer(s):
  2. Contact Information
    • Email:
    • Phone Number:
  3. Interview Type
    • In-Person
    • Virtual
    • Phone
  4. Candidate Background
    • Previous Position:
    • Key Qualifications:
    • Relevant Skills:
  5. Interview Questions and Responses
    • For each question, leave space to summarize the candidate’s response and any observations about how they delivered their answer.
  6. Q1: [Insert question]
    • Response:
    • Observations:
  7. Q2: [Insert question]
    • Response:
    • Observations:
  8. [Continue this format for all prepared questions]
  9. Candidate’s Questions
    • Question 1:
    • Response Given:
    • Question 2:
    • Response Given:
    • [Add more as needed]
  10. Interviewer’s Impressions
    • Communication Skills:
    • Professionalism:
    • Cultural Fit:
    • Strengths:
    • Areas for Improvement:
  11. Overall Evaluation
    • Here, summarize your overall impression of the candidate, their fit for the role, and any potential red flags or concerns.
    • Rating: (1-10)
    • Hire Recommendation:
      • Strongly Recommend
      • Recommend
      • Do Not Recommend
  12. Additional Notes
    • Use this section for any additional observations or relevant details not covered above, such as the candidate’s interest level in the position or any unique points that stood out during the interview.
  13. Action Items
    • Next Steps:
    • Follow-Up Required:
    • Documents to Review/Check:

Comparing Tools for Taking Good Interview Notes

Let's compare the efficiency of three popular interview note-taking methods:

Traditional Note-Taking:

  • Pros: This method allows you to jot down notes quickly and subtly. It’s straightforward and doesn’t rely on any technology, which means no worrying about battery life or software malfunctions.
  • Cons: The main drawback is organization; handwritten notes can get messy and are difficult to share with your team. Additionally, converting these notes into a digital format for storage or further analysis can be time-consuming.

Digital Note-Taking Apps (e.g., Evernote, OneNote):

  • Pros: These apps help you keep your notes organized and searchable. They often integrate with other tools, such as calendars, making it easier to manage interview schedules and notes in one place. Digital notes are easy to share with colleagues, enhancing collaboration.
  • Cons: Using a laptop or tablet during an interview can create a barrier between you and the candidate, potentially disrupting the natural flow of conversation. There's also the risk of running into technical issues, like software glitches or data loss.

AI-Powered Tools (e.g., Noota, ...):

  • Pros: AI tools offer advanced features like automatic transcription and keyword highlighting. They can integrate with HR systems, streamlining the recruitment process. These tools are excellent for saving time, as they automate transcription and analyze the interview content to pinpoint important details.
  • Cons: You may need to get consent from candidates to record interviews, depending on your location’s privacy laws. There is a learning curve to effectively use these tools, and they tend to be more expensive than simpler note-taking methods.

Which tool to choose ? The best tool for you depends on several factors, including the formality of your interviews, the volume of interviews you conduct, and the level of detail you need from your notes.

If your interviews are more structured and you work with a team that needs to review notes, an AI-powered tool like Noota could be invaluable for its efficiency and thoroughness. For less formal settings or when you prefer a more personal touch, traditional or digital note-taking might be more suitable.

AI Interview Notes with Noota

Tired of taking manual notes of your interviews ? Noota helps you keep your focus on your candidates by streamlining your note-taking process :

  • Automatic Transcription: Noota automatically records and transcribes the entire interview. This allows you to focus fully on the interview without worrying about missing any details. The transcription is immediate, ensuring that every word is captured as it's spoken.
  • Automated Interview Report: After the interview is complete, Noota uses AI to analyze the transcript and highlight important information such as key skills, relevant experiences, and notable achievements. This automated process generates a detailed report that captures the essence of the interview, significantly reducing the time you spend on post-interview paperwork.
  • Customized Template: Noota provides customizable templates that let you define what information is most important for each role. By setting up these templates, you ensure that Noota’s reports focus on the specific criteria you care about, making it easier to evaluate candidates consistently and fairly.
  • Easier Communication and Sharing: Noota allows you to easily share interview reports with your team or save them for later review. The reports can be exported in various formats, fitting perfectly into your existing workflow. This feature is especially useful when you need to discuss candidates with other decision-makers or revisit a candidate’s details at a later stage.
  • Streamline Decision-Making: With all candidate information organized and readily accessible, making hiring decisions becomes quicker and more straightforward. Noota’s objective, data-driven reports ensure that your hiring choices are well-informed and that all stakeholders have the necessary information to make collaborative decisions.

You want to ensure you have the right interview data for your hiring decisions ? Try Noota for free.

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