Note Taking Doesn’t End After College

When most people think of the job search, they think of updating their resumes, writing cover letters, preparing answers to interview questions, sending thank yous, etc. But, doing all this means you are only meeting expectations, and maybe doing just a little more than other candidates. To really set yourself apart, you gotta go above and beyond. One way to do it is to prove you are smart and engaged during the interview by researching before it and taking notes during it.

Almost always, employers will ask one of these questions: “What do you know about the company?” or “Why do you want to work here?” The worst thing to do is give a vague answer, BS it, or say “I don’t know.” You may want to work there because you heard they pay well or they have a good reputation. But anyone can tell them this. What can you do to show that you really know this company? Before the interview, Google them, go to their website, visit their Twitter page, check out their Facebook profile, and read any articles written about them. Know the name of the CEO, know when they were founded, know their “about” section by heart, know the job description by heart, etc.

How are you supposed to memorize all this? You don’t have to. In the leather portfolio or folder you bring to the interview (you better have one!), there should be a notepad built in or you should at least have a few loose-leaf papers in it. This is your cheat sheet! While researching the company in the week or so leading up to the interview, take notes in your portfolio and list some major questions that came to mind regarding the job/company. Is there anything you want answered during the interview?

Once you are in the interview, don’t forget to take more notes! This shows that you are engaged, it’ll make you look smart, and then when you get home, you’ll remember what hours the position requires, what the benefits are, what the details of the job duties are, etc.

Trust me—memorized or not—you’ll forget the details about the company and questions you have for them in the heat of the moment, especially if you are applying to dozens of jobs. Don’t get them mixed up! Know the company inside and out. Who knows, you might find out some juicy info that will make you cross the company off your list!

Michelle Barbeau

Michelle Barbeau graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2006 with a B.A. in English. She is currently in graduate school working toward a Masters in Rhetoric and Writing. She works as Careers Editor at and teaches Freshman Composition at a local university. Michelle also considers herself an authority in resume writing and provides free resume critiques to potential clients. Contact her at You can also find her career blog at

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