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newly tt

I've been on a committee where the interview questions were available beforehand. In that case, I think, subliminally, candidates who used notes seemed like they were more prepared because there was visible evidence of their prep. This didn't really affect the way candidates were ranked, since there was so many other kinds of information available.

I have visibly used notes in interviews for jobs for which I was hired (sometimes where I knew the questions, sometimes where I didn't, sometimes in between). It is also useful to keep track of the questions you will ask the committee!

This largely falls into the area of something candidates can't control, though. If notes help you do a good job by your own lights, you should probably use them.


During my Zoom interviews last job cycle, I put notes on notecards and taped them on the wall behind the computer, so I could glance at my notes while simply appearing (hopefully!) to be looking at the camera.

Bill Vanderburgh

Any time a candidate appears to stumble through answers is bad. If a quick glance at notes prevents that, great. If reading them outright makes the bumbling seem worse, not so great. So, if you use pre-prepared notes, known them well.

Notes can be useful, but I'd say that over-reliance on notes is a sign of underpreparation. If a candidate is very nervous about interviewing, having notes can seem to them like a good idea. A better idea, though, is getting some interview practice is the best remedy (including mock interviews with one's department or fellow grad students--or even flubbing a real interview once or twice).

TAKING notes during the interview is an excellent strategy. It makes you look serious, helps you keep track of multi-part questions and ideas that pop into your mind, and gives you a moment to think while you write.

Just as skill at campaigning is no guarantee of skill at governing, skill at interviewing, or lack thereof, is not much of a sign of anything about the candidate's likely success in the job. Yet any political candidate has to get good enough at campaigning, and any interviewee has to get good enough at interviewing to have a shot at the prize.

Mike Titelbaum

To my mind, it depends what you're discussing. If we ask you what articles you would assign in (say) a philosophy of science course, I'm fine if you look at a syllabus you've previously composed and have in front of you. (Even better if you first say, "I've actually got a syllabus written up for that—here's what I'd plan." Makes you look prepared.) But if we ask you what happens in Chapter 2 of your dissertation, and you have to look at your dissertation precis, that makes me think you're nowhere near having the thing written.

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