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Note-Taking During Interviews

It’s essential for an interviewer to take some form of notes during an interview. These notes can be turned into a formal write-up, ideally as soon as possible after the interview itself. New interviewers should typically budget about the same length of time for their write-up as they spent on the interview, although with a great deal of practice and good in-interview note-taking, the time commitment will go down by half or more.

Good notes capture the questions that were asked and give a high-level description of what happened during the interview, including both candidate answers and any key moments in the discussion.

When interviews include coding questions, a complete report will capture the candidate’s written code, to allow the hiring team to objectively evaluate the results and consistently calibrate the process. A complete and final write-up will include a high-level assessment of the code quality.

Some interviewers are able to capture more detailed quotes while the interview progresses. This makes reconstructing the interview and creating a good write-up easier and can be particularly useful for folks whose schedules preclude a full write-up immediately following the discussion. However, note that good interviewers will only take down this level of detail if they can simultaneously stay engaged with the candidate.

Keeping the Interview on Schedule

The first step to collecting signal is making sure the interview is moving along on schedule.

Timing in interviews is critical. If the candidate isn’t moving quickly enough through the full range of questions, the interviewer may find it necessary to intervene. This may include asking the candidate to skip over less essential parts of the discussion so as to stay on time.

Interviewer boredom can be a clue that the interview is going off track in one of these ways:

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