1. It shows the person interviewing you that you’re actually interested in doing some learning during the interview. That what he has to say might actually have some value to you.
2. It shows that you’re prepared, which is a bigger deal than you think. People who are prepared for meetings (i.e. show up with an agenda, have their action items completed, etc.) tend to excel in companies because they exhibit a work ethic over their colleagues. Business owners and managers like seeing this trait in young people because they know they won’t have to teach it to you if they hire you.
Okay, so you’re on the right track with bringing the notepad to your interview. Now you need to go the extra mile and actually use it during the meeting. Here’s how:
1. Before your meeting write down a couple of good questions about the company or the department in your notebook. Make them good questions. That way when you refer to your notebook you’ll show your interviewer that you’re extra prepared for the meeting.
2. Take good notes during the meeting. You don’t have to transcribe everything he says, but jot down some good points he makes and refer back to them during your meeting. “You mentioned earlier that your team is currently focused on this area of the market, specifically X & Y. Do you have a timeline for expansion into other jurisdictions?”
3. When your interviewer says he knows someone who you may be able to talk to as a follow up, open up your notebook and write that person’s name down. Ask him to spell the name. Then ask if he has contact information for him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed people where I’ve given them a lead and they don’t follow up on it with me. I’m a busy person, so I may forget to contact someone on your behalf. But if you don’t remember who I was supposed to contact, how can you remind me?
4. Write down some questions or interesting facts about the interview that you can use to follow up with after your meeting. This will also showed you paid attention during the meeting instead of just sitting there hoping he’d offer you a job.
Remember the point of an interview, whether it’s for a job or it’s an informational interview – it’s to distinguish yourself from other potential candidates. Bringing a notebook and pen is a great way to get a leg up, but it’s how you use it that will really separate you from everyone else.