Can You Look At Notes During A Video Interview?

Having notes to hand for an in-person interview can make you feel more confident and prepared, but they also present a risk of giving the interviewer is that you need to rely on notes to be able to answer questions posed.

The nature of a video interviews however opens up more opportunities to refer to notes more frequently and still come off looking professional.

It’s perfectly appropriate to look at (and take) notes during a video interview as long as it is done subtly and with the intent of enhancing the experience rather than driving your responses. Generally it’s not seen a negative to use notes to prompt reminders of key information that you want to convey or questions that you wish to ask the interviewer.

To summarise how best to use notes during a remote video interview we’ve pulled together the thoughts of some experienced recruiters to let you know how notes are perceived and the best way you can apply them to boost your chances.

Can you look at notes during a video interview?

As with an in-person interview, it is perfectly acceptable to bring notes to a video interview meeting. Notes can help you review important points from your resume, remember talking points that you had ahead of the interview, and ask appropriate and insightful questions of your interviewer.

It will be easier to access notes when you need them during a virtual interview; you have control over what your interviewer can and cannot see in frame which means you can place your notes wherever it is most convenient for you, and structure them in whatever way will help you remember them.

That being said, it may be tempting to bring extremely detailed or a large quantity of notes to a digital interview because of that control. Doing this however may cause you to overly focus on the notes in an attempt to find the perfect answer, thus making you appear as if you are reading from a script rather than answering questions naturally.

So, as a starting point it’s important to pull together the correct notes.

How to prepare notes for using during an interview

The most important elements to include in your interview notes are:

  1. A quick reference list of your resume highlights including examples of past experience and how key skills refined in other jobs will benefit you in the opening you’re interviewing for
  2. Specific talking points you want to bring up during the interview, such as a particularly relevant achievement or skill
  3. Any questions you have for your interviewer, such as asking for elaboration on day-to-day tasks, performance measurement, or career path opportunities

You may also want to make some notes during the interview itself, such as if you have a question about a particular point brought up by the interviewer to discuss later on. This can demonstrate investment in the interview and the position and show that you’re paying attention.

You should also be prepared to deviate from your notes if you need to. Setting up a mock interview with a friend on the same platform can help you figure out what you may need to say (such as introducing yourself on camera) or how you may need to set up the layout of your notes ahead of time.

How to tactfully use notes during an interview

Once you have readied your notes, it’s important to use them appropriately. The most important thing to avoid is looking like you’re reading from a script of prepared answers, or being completely unprepared to answer a question for which you have no notes.

First, make sure your notes are succinct and presented as points rather than full scripted paragraphs. This gives you good reference material while keeping you from reading them out word-for-word. Include only the most important information such as dates, statistics, and titles.

Next, position your notes so that you can reference them subtly. With video interviews specifically, it can be beneficial to have digital notes on screen rather than on paper in front of you. You may also choose to place them beside your webcam, so that it is less obvious when you glace at them.

If you are making notes during the interview, it may be a good idea to inform your interviewer that you are doing so, so that they understand why you are looking away from the screen. Even so, try to use the same conventions during the interview as you did before; only write down what’s most important for you to know or ask.

When not to bring notes to a video interview

There are some circumstances under which you shouldn’t bring notes to a video interview. If, for instance, the meeting is to determine what your behavior is like or if you are doing a working interview, then having notes with you may actually hinder your responses.

Final thoughts

Video interviews can be daunting – they have all of the pressure of an in-person interview with the added hassle of technology. Using notes is not only acceptable it will likely further your cause by keeping you on track to say everything you want to say and prompt you to respond appropriately with questions of your own.

If you plan to use notes during your interview, go into the process prepared, and be ready to deviate from your notes as necessary. You may find that they make you more confident on screen.

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