How to Prepare Effective Interview Notes: A Quick Guide

How to Prepare Effective Interview Notes: A Quick Guide

Interview processes are crucial for both the organization as well as the candidates. An efficient and robust interview process is vital for hiring the most competent candidate. In this scenario, interview notes play an important role. They help determine the candidates’ essential qualities, get feedback from the recruitment team, and ultimately make an informed hiring decision. They also serve as official documentation of the process.

But, information without structure stalls decision making. Inefficient interview notes not just present an incorrect representation of the candidates. They also lead to hiring delays and wrong hiring decisions. Hence, the interview notes must have the following characteristics and make the process of selecting the best candidate easier for the hiring manager.

N: Neutral O: Objective T: Truthful E: Efficient S: Scrutinized

Interview notes should be:

Neutral: The tone of the notes should be neutral to avoid any bias or scope of subjectivity.

Objective: The notes should exclusively focus on the candidate’s skills and their alignment to the job profile. 

Truthful: The interview notes should be a document that is devoid of any fabrication. Any kind of fabrication is unethical and illegal.

Efficient: The interview notes should be easily understandable while documenting the interview process. Highlighting the main points and making it concise ensures that one can understand the intent without reading too much.

Scrutinized: Rechecking notes should be pivotal to avoid any forms of litigation or information that is subjective.

How to prepare exhaustive yet objective interview notes?Making Interview notes using a structure is efficient and effective.

Efficient interview notes ensure that the candidate’s potential is recognized while prioritizing the company’s welfare.

The processes that precede the preparation of interview notes, i.e., the interview can affect the notes. Regulating the surroundings well enough to suit both the interviewer and the applicant’s comfort is crucial to the interview process. Once the interview takes place with less disturbance, the following methods will prove to be more productive while making interview notes.

  • Using the BAR method

BAR method is a method for breaking an interview into three parts based on the Background, the Action, and the Result. It helps in tracking the candidate’s reciprocation to their work environment and the work from their previous experience.

For instance, a candidate discusses how they were an asset to their previous organization with regards to their work ethic. They elaborate upon their punctuality and flexibility regarding extra work, which helped in providing quality performance. The interviewer can take their answer and break it down in the following manner:

Background: The candidate was talking about his strong work ethic.

Action: They are punctual when it comes to submitting work, and they keep their schedule flexible enough to accommodate extra work in case of emergencies.

Result: The candidate provides quality work on time, thus facilitating the growth of the organization.

  • Using an objective interview checklist during the feedback process

To avoid any subjective analysis of the interview, one has to make sure they have an objective checklist. It helps the interviewer make the process free of any biases or preconceived notions. The following things should be kept in mind when designing an objective interview checklist- 

  1. Categorize the interview questions into fact-finding, creative thinking, problem-solving, and behavioral categories. The BAR method is suitable for further assessment.
  2. Design a criterion while keeping the specifications in mind. The purpose of these criteria is to assess the candidates’ skills solely on their work experience and skills. The interviewer has to make sure that if they are recommending/ not recommending a candidate, they have credible reasoning behind their assertion.
  3. Sometimes, a candidate is not the ideal person for the job they have applied. But they might do better in an alternate job profile. Informing/ recommending candidates for the same is a good move for both parties.
  4. If an unhired candidate requests for feedback, it should be affirmative. It should aim at helping them understand which skills to develop. It will help to become a stronger candidate.
    The same process will also let them know the areas they have excellent knowledge of. The candidate can work on strengthening the skills to make themselves a better candidate in the future.

Best Practices for taking Interview Notes

Best Practices for taking Interview Notes

  1. Maintain two sections while taking interview notes. The first part would record the candidate’s answers. The second part would entail the interviewers’ assessment of the answers.
  2. If taking the interview and making notes simultaneously becomes tedious for the interviewer, they can appoint a person for taking interview notes. This process ensures that the notes will be with full concentration.
  3. Be equally engaged with the candidate as they take their interview and make notes. To juggle both aspects of the process, they can use shorthand, abbreviations, and, most importantly, note down important things.
    To make this process more efficient, they can use a tool like FreJunHR to record the interviews and get automated interview notes. There will be relative ease in sharing notes with the recruitment team while allowing the interviewer to have an engaged discussion with the candidate throughout the interview process.
  4. Ensure that the notes are unbiased. The decision to hire/not hire a candidate should be based solely on the skills of the candidate and the requirements of the organization. The tone of the report should also be neutral.
  5. Be well versed in the applicant’s resume and ask relevant questions. By knowing that the company has acknowledged its efforts, the candidate will feel comfortable during the interview.
  6. Use technology wherever it helps in streamlining the interview process. AI (Artificial Intelligence) in recruitment has been gaining momentum and can be used in the note-taking process too. Several AI software, like FreJunHR, provides services to make the interview process hassle-free.
  7. Review the notes by a third party (preferably HR) to avoid litigation. The review will ensure that the candidate’s personal attributes are not a part of the report.


Taking interview notes will vary from industry to industry and organization to organization. Regardless, they create a base to build criteria that are significant in securing the best candidates for an organization. Therefore, interview notes are essential not only during the interview process but also in understanding the kind of talent their company is attracting. They give an insight into the company’s image in the job market. 

Hence, by putting in efforts in preparing effective interview notes, recruiters can improve the hiring decision and use the notes as a useful resource for the company.

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