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Should I bring a tablet with me to an interview?

A couple of years ago I was told by a recruiter that it was OK to take a tablet/notebook to an interview to take notes. "Nobody expects you to remember everything. I also used it so I would have notes about the company handy. Questions to ask.

After listening to a couple of the podcasts I am getting the feeling that this practice is tacky.

What is the latest?
Thank you,
Kevin

jhack's picture

As a hiring manager, I would react very negatively to any electronics or computers. No way.

If you mean paper, that would be questionable - what are you writing down? Why do you need to take notes? Having a pen and paper handy if you need to write down something that you both agree is worth noting is OK; sitting there taking notes while being interviewed is not appropriate.

John

KS180's picture

Frequently I will be interviewed by 3 - 9 people and I try to write their names as they sit around the table so I can talk to them using their name. If they start giving me statistics on size of the network or users, applications or metrics or ratios I cannot remember everything but some of it would be useful as feedback as it relates to my experience.

Been there done that type of thing.

The more I write about this the dumber it sounds. Is there a way to delete this thread?
Kevin

asteriskrntt1's picture

I am guessing most interviewers will be different, so why not just ask if they mind you also jotting down a couple of points?

In fact, M&M say in the interview series that when time comes for you to ask questions at the end of the interview, some of them should be related to things the interviewer said or issues you discussed. So it is probably a good idea to make a note or two.

I agree with John that I would not bring a tablet in - the person interviewing you might not feel you are paying attention, much like the rule for not using your PC or answering emails during O3s.

jhack's picture

It's not a dumb question - it's a very good one. I've seen some outrageous behavior during interviews (note taking is not in that category). This definitely qualifies as gray-area: should one take notes at key points?

If you're being team-interviewed, you could ask for business cards and set them in front of you (discretely) to help you remember their names.

If you were given a scenario ("how would you troubleshoot such and such a problem - the network is configured this way, blah blah") then taking notes would be appropriate.

Most cases, though, you are the one being interviewed and there should be no reason for you to take notes. Yeah, it can be tough remembering what to ask at the end, but you'll be all the more impressive for asking good questions without notes.

John

garyslinger's picture

(Tablet's just another word for "pad of paper", although not one I use myself).

I'd be OK with it, although I'd probably expect to be asked at the start of the meeting - especially if it was going to be a "thorough" interview, and not a quick meet-and-greet type deal. Particularly for technical interviews, anyways.

Let's face it - when I go in to a meeting, I take a padfolio (another word I won't normally use, but what they heck :) ) and I take notes - not just action notes, but things I want to address later in the meeting, clarify, and so forth. I'm also pretty horrible with names until I've spent a little time with someone ,so if I was interviewing with a bunch of folks, I'd write their names down as well.

You have to play it by ear and read their reaction to you asking, and then you doing.

G.

asteriskrntt1's picture

I took tablet to be the electronic version and notebook to be a laptop.

garyslinger's picture

[quote="asteriskrntt1"]I took tablet to be the electronic version and notebook to be a laptop.[/quote]

Heh. Well, let me add "absolutely no electronics on the table and turn your cellphone OFF not to vibrate" to the list :)

G.

KS180's picture

I leave mine in my car so it doesn't interfere with my syvette figure and the body sculpted suits. :)
Kevin

ashdenver's picture

Wow, I've never heard that it's frowned upon for an applicant to have a pad of paper & pen for the interview. I always bring my portfolio of work, several copies of my resume and a legal pad with several pens (just in case) to ensure that I'm prepared for anything that might come up.

[quote]Having a pen and paper handy if you need to write down something that you both agree is worth noting is OK; sitting there taking notes while being interviewed is not appropriate. [/quote]
In some cases, I may not take any notes at all. In other interviews, they've thrown such complex, convoluted processes or internal structures at me that I would have been stuttering and stammering, trying to recall tidbits of information. For the most part I barely scribble more than 20 words, names or figures down during an interview.

I suppose I'm having difficulty imagining how that's different from "taking notes". Would that be like "Could you slow down please, I'm trying to write down the question you just asked me"? If so, good grief, I could see how [i]that [/i]would be inappropriate.

DanStratton's picture

I did an interview where the potential candidate brought in a small notebook. It was a for a technical position and one of the practices I have is to ask technical questions of increasing difficulty to see where and, more importantly, how they admit they don't know. This guy blew my socks off by saying he didn't know, but he wanted to find out and wrote down the topic of the question. When I called him back to make an offer, he answered the question, confirming I had the right guy. In that case, having a notebook with him was used to his advantage.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="DanStratton"]In that case, having a notebook with him was used to his advantage.[/quote]

Years ago, when interviewing for slots in the non-profit sector, I had numerous questions for *each* group or committee that I would meet with throughout the day. This same portfolio would have a copy of credentials and samples of work.

Perhaps, it depends on the length of the interview or the interview process? Are you in a single 30 minute interview or a collection of 6-10 interviews in a single day?

bflynn's picture

Absolutely carry something to write on with you. The paper is to write down something important, a to-do for yourself, as a scratch sheet for solving a problem. And carry a nice pen. But lets face it, you probably won't have many unexpected action items coming out of an interview. And if you do get an action item, but have to borrow pen and paper to write it down...now you're unprepared.

Don't take notes. Not because its rude, but for the simple reason that you want to be looking at your interviewer, not down at your paper.

Brian

jhack's picture

Brian, you said it crisply and clearly.

John

bflynn's picture

Must be that D side of me coming out... :)

DanStratton's picture

[quote="tlhausmann"]Perhaps, it depends on the length of the interview or the interview process? Are you in a single 30 minute interview or a collection of 6-10 interviews in a single day?[/quote]

This was the first of three sections in a single 2 hour interview.

KS180's picture

Well, I'm in the same situation again.  9 - 10 people in the group interviewing me for a CIO position.  Interview to take 90 minutes.  Numerous departments with various needs.  Somewhat of a stress interview.  My DiSC is 5335 so I am going to be in high gear trying to analyze everything.

 

cruss's picture

In one of the interview series casts, I believe it was how to dress, Mark says you should have a pen and several blank 3x5 cards in your inside coat pocket to takes notes with. I'm sure this is the kind of notes that Brian mentioned.

One other use I find helpful is to write down the names of anyone I met but didn't get a business card from. I do this in the elevator or as soon as I get to my car. Then I know who to send the thank you cards to.

Canyon R

jhack's picture

I don't remember the cast (group interviews?), but Mark and Mike recommend never writing things down during an interview.  

John Hack