January 12, 2016

How to Take Smart Notes and Improve Your Answers to Job Interview Questions

For recent grads and young professionals, first job interviews are a crash course in interpersonal skills, thinking on ones feet and the danger of homonyms (pro-tip: led is the past tense of ‘to lead’). To ease the learning curve a bit, we’ve got tips below on how to take smart notes in your job interview to answer questions intelligently, schedule the second (or third) interview and, of course, land your perfect job.

What is the Interviewer Looking for?

A job interviewer knows that a recent grad will not have a wealth of direct experience to bring to the interview. Instead, the person sitting across the table from you is asking you questions to gauge your future potential and critical thinking skills. Interviewers are looking for:

*How you process information
* How you analyze problem
* How you formulate solution
* Cultural fit with the company

The notes you take in the meeting will help you process the information that the interviewer is sharing, help you organize your thoughts so you can then share your problem-solving skills during the interview, and be used later in your thank you email and subsequent interviews.

Pro-tip: Always end an interview with the following question, “If I make it to the next interview, what should I expect?”

Note-worthy Information

You want to appear engaged in the meeting and capture notes that will help you remember key information. It’s a delicate balance. Take too many notes and you’ve missed part of the conversation and you aren’t making eye contact. Take too little notes and you have no documentation of the meeting. By taking notes in bullet point form on the topics below (and with Bamboo Spark) you will have a complete overview of the relevant points of the interview.

* Information about the company
* Challenges of the role and for the company (these are the topics in which you’ll demonstrate your critical thinking skills)
* Details related to the job
* Your questions before you start the interview
* Cultural items to which you have a connection (perhaps the interviewer has a mug from your alma mater.)

Follow the format in the video below to organize your information within the meeting. Click here to learn more about Bamboo Spark.

Pro-tip: Immediately after the interview, find a café and take additional notes on anything you missed during the interview. Notes could include: impressions of the interviewer, next steps, or cultural insights you didn’t want to document in the moment.

What to do with your notes

1. During the interview

Use your bullet points to bring your solutions to the challenges of company back into the conversation. This shows that you are actively listening, and processing the information offered.

2. After the interview

Always follow up with a thank you email. In this email, expand on a few of the solutions you offer to the company problems. To develop thoughtful solutions, try drawing a mind map based on your notes. This gives you an opportunity to experiment with new ways of thinking before sharing your thoughts with the interviewer.

In your thank you email, mention any culture items in which you think you might have a fit.

If you are invited to a second or third interview, go back to your original notes, and rewrite them in a narrative form. This will help you prepare for your next interview. In each interview, your responses should build on the information of past interviews. Your answers should be more thoughtful and better informed, proving that you are able to consume information, process it, and offer solutions.

Seal the deal

When you’re interviewing there is one big element you can’t control: the interviewer’s personality. Observe the interviewer as much as you are being observed. Learn about that person and sell yourself to that individual. Listen to their questions and tailor your answers to that specific person, not the canned answers you’ve prepared in the mirror. 


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Bamboo Spark

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Bamboo Spark Take notes. Make ideas. From paper, to cloud, to life. The Bamboo Spark is a smart folio with a smart ballpoint pen, and a spot for your favourite paper. Write by hand. Press a button and save your handwritten notes to the Bamboo Spark app for light editing. Use the Wacom Cloud for archiving, sharing and access anywhere. Capture handwritten notes on any paper and with a push of a button your handwritten content is saved in the...

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