SELECT PERSPECTIVES BLOG

Use This Method for Your Interview Notes to Hire Better Employees

Posted by  Cassandra Walter

You’ve done all the pre-work. You've done a job analysis, identified the competencies needed to be successful on the job, and you have developed great interview questions to measure those competencies. You are all set to begin conducting interviews.  Now, the hard work begins. 

The Struggle: Staying Engaged in the Interview...while also Taking Interview Notes

The purpose of an interview is to gather information from candidates to determine if he or she is the right person for the job. However, a major challenge that interviewers face is finding an efficient way to record the essential information while continuing to actively listen to the candidate’s responses. As an interviewer, you want to capture the important details so that you can recall it later and make an accurate evaluation of the candidate. But, you can’t record every word the candidate says.

Here at Select International, we recommend a note taking method called the BAR. By using the method, we break down the candidate’s response into three main elements – the Background, the Action, and the Result.

Here is an Example:

  • Candidate Question: Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the requirements of the job.

  • Candidate Response: While working for XZ Company as an assembler, at the end of each shift we had to record the number of units we put together, and at the end of the week each of us needed to meet a quota. I noticed that the worker who came in after me was way behind on his quota. He was a new guy and was having a difficult time keeping up. So, for the remainder of the week, I stayed over for about 2 hours and helped him. I showed him the correct way to assemble the units, and I helped him get caught up. He was able to meet his quota for that week. It also prevented our assembly line from getting behind.

    • Background: New worker unable to meet weekly quota

    • Action: Stayed after his shift and trained coworker on process

    • Result: Coworker met his quota; assembly line stayed on track

By using the BAR note taking method, you are able to efficiently gather the essential information. You have information on the situation, you know exactly what the candidate did in the situation, and you know the results of the candidate’s action.

In addition to using the BAR, here are some additional tips on taking interview notes:

  1. Inform the candidate that you will be taking notes at the beginning. Explain to the candidate that you are taking notes to help you capture their experiences and skills so that you can review them at a later time. This will help put the candidate at ease, and have them less concerned about what you are writing in your notes.

  1. Engage the candidate during the interview. Be sure to continue to make eye contact with the candidate, nod your head, and smile at them occasionally. It’s important that you continue to build rapport with the candidate throughout the interview and make sure they know that you are listening and engaging with them.

  1. Make sure you are only recording job relevant information within your notes. You should not include any information regarding legally protected classes (e.g. age, race, gender, marital status, disability, etc.).

    Read more: The Most Common Interview Questions that can get you in Legal Trouble

Taking notes during an interview can be a frustrating task! It can be hard to capture the candidate’s responses while also actively engaging with the candidate and building rapport. However, using the BAR note taking method can ease some of that frustration, by allowing you to only focus on the essential information.

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Tags:   behavioral interview, interview, interview training

Cassandra Walter

Cassandra is a Consulting Associate located at Select International's Pittsburgh office. She holds a Master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She works with clients across many different industries, including manufacturing, retail, customer service, and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include providing training and support for Select International’s applicant tracking system, SelecTrak, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.

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