A Guide to Taking Good Interview Notes [+Free Templates]

Prioritize effective decision making when hiring new team members by recording detailed interview notes. Learn how here!

Taking detailed meeting notes is crucial for several reasons, including distinguishing candidates from one another, making effective decisions, and scoring candidates before making a final decision. Despite the importance of gathering interview notes, many people fail to implement systems and processes that help create non-biased, accurate interview notes that uphold the integrity of the interview process. In this article, we’ll dive into the importance of taking interview notes as well as some best practices for taking interview notes while remaining present and attentive. 

Why you need to take interview notes 

1Fosters accuracy

There’s nothing worse than wrapping up an interview, feeling good about it, and realizing there are important details you’ve already forgotten. If you want to make sure you have an accurate depiction of the interview, it’s important to take detailed notes that you can reference later. Referencing your notes when making decisions that pertain to the interview will ensure you have all the information you need to proceed with confidence. 

2Improves decision making

Deciding between a list of qualified candidates can be difficult, especially if you don’t have detailed notes that cover each one’s best and worst qualities. Interview notes will act as a repository for information, ensuring you have all relevant data and insights, reducing the risk of missing insights or making ill-informed decisions. When it comes time to decide on your list of candidates, you can review your notes or share them with your team to come to a decision together

3Aids in memory recall

Note-taking is a cognitive tool that aids in memory recall. When you take interview notes, you engage with the material in a way that promotes better understanding and retention. When it comes time to review your notes, reading over the interview material can trigger the recall of related information. 

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Free templates for interview notes 

1User experience interface research interview 

Conducting user experience (UX) interviews can be a great way to get to know the consumer while gaining insights that may shape the future of your product. If you’re interested in learning more about consumers’ perceptions and experiences, consider leveraging this UX Interface Research Interview Agenda Template to get started on the right foot! 

2Hiring interview

Hiring a new employee is a huge responsibility and can be an incredibly costly endeavor if you make the wrong choice. When conducting hiring interviews, it’s important to screen and interview candidates appropriately. If you’re gearing up for an interview, consider leveraging this Phone Screen Interview Meeting Template to gain a deeper understanding of your candidate to determine if they would be a good fit for the role. 

3Exit Interview

Gather honest feedback about company culture, team morale, and your management style by asking departing employees these exit interview questions.

7 best practices for taking interview notes 

1Use a note-taking tool

Leveraging a note-taking tool like Fellow makes the interview note-taking process way easier. Fellow is the top-rated meeting notes software with all the features you need to host collaborative meetings or effective interviews without interrupting your workflow. With Fellow’s AI-powered features, you can share meeting recordings or transcriptions seamlessly with your team, have simplified meeting summaries and key points for efficient knowledge sharing, and capture and sync action items. 

Whether you’re taking notes for a one-on-one meeting or an interview, Fellow makes it possible to capture detailed meeting notes directly within your meeting agenda. After you’ve wrapped up the interview, you can find pertinent information in a matter of seconds because all meeting notes are linked to a calendar event.

2Create codes

It can be extremely difficult to keep track of lengthy conversations during the interview process, especially if you don’t have systems or processes in place that streamline the note-taking process. Creating codes is an excellent tactic that you can use to summarize and categorize pertinent information, making it easier to organize and reference information. For example, you may want to create a code that simplifies long words to save time typing if you’re taking manual interview notes. Your codes can be as complex or as simple as you like and can represent anything from themes to concepts or significant points. What’s most important is creating codes that are easy to interpret in the future. It’s important to avoid creating codes that make the note-taking or interpretation process more difficult. 

3Be objective, not subjective 

Being objective as opposed to subjective when taking interview notes is crucial for maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the information gathered. Taking objective interview notes helps avoid biases and personal opinions by focusing on facts, observable behaviors, and verifiable details. Avoiding being subjective when taking interview notes will ensure you can in good conscience share your interview notes as they will be impartial, reliable, and accurate. Your interview notes should never be swayed by your personal opinions or biases and should instead serve as an accurate, non-biased depiction of the interaction between you and the candidate. 

4Prioritize active listening

It can be difficult to remain present and attentive when taking meeting notes however, it’s important to refrain from sacrificing active listening in favor of your meeting notes. Practicing active listening during the interview process will help build rapport and make a positive impression, ensuring each candidate feels respected and heard. Additionally, practicing active listening will help you pick up on subtle cues like body language and the interviewee’s tone which can help you tailor your responses and inform your meeting notes. The more present you are, the more successful the interview process will become. Practicing active listening will ensure you and the candidate have a natural, positive interaction. 

5Record all questions

Taking detailed notes means recording all questions that are asked during the interview process. Recording all questions in your interview notes will ensure you don’t miss any critical information provided by the candidate. In addition, it will help you maintain a clear and accurate depiction of each interview, making it easier to source important details when necessary. Failing to record all questions may make the final decision more difficult as you won’t have consistent notes from candidate to candidate. If you’re struggling to keep up, politely ask the candidate to slow down or repeat themselves. It’s important to capture all pertinent information!                                                              

6Paraphrase quotes

Paraphrasing quotes refers to the practice of restating—or in this case, rewriting—the original quote or answer in your own words without losing the meaning of the original quote. Not only will this process help you keep up with the candidates as they answer your interview questions, but it will also allow you to focus on key points, maintain conciseness, and apply a uniform style to your interview notes, making them more organized and accessible. Remember, when paraphrasing quotes, it’s important to refrain from losing the integrity of the original message. You must still record an accurate depiction of what was said.

7Take accurate notes

If you fail to take accurate interview notes, the information won’t serve you when it comes time to decide on a candidate. If you’re able to objectively assess candidates, compare their qualifications, and make informed decisions based on their qualifications after referencing your notes, you’ll be able to ensure there is consistency and fairness in the hiring process. Remember, there’s no shame in asking the candidates to repeat themselves. Doing so will ensure you have accurate and consistent notes from candidate to candidate. 

How to take great interview notes with Fellow 

Fellow is a meeting management tool with a variety of intuitive features—including automated transcriptions that make it possible to take great interview notes. The key differentiator between Fellow and other tools is that Fellow goes beyond transcribing, reinventing the entire practice of meeting management. This helps keep information organized and ensures users can access important information quickly and efficiently. You can even take it one step further by leveraging Fellow’s Google Meet or Zoom extension so you don’t have to juggle multiple tabs and can instead take comprehensive interview notes directly within your meeting.

In addition, you can record your interviews with Fellow’s AI meeting bot, create collaborative, fully customizable meeting agendas that can be used to keep interviews on track, and leverage a robust library of meeting agenda templates so you never have to start your interview preparation from scratch.

Gearing up to host a round of interviews? 

Before hosting your next interview, stop and ask yourself if your note-taking process produces unbiased, accurate interview notes. If not, it’s important to implement new systems that help you take comprehensive interview notes that you feel confident using to help you make decisions.

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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with startups, small business owners, and large organizations. Presently, Hannah serves as the Founder at Flamingo Social where she strives to create impactful organic content marketing strategies that help founders tell inspiring stories.

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