How To Summarize An Interview

Ultimately, summarizing an interview will really help you to make much more competent and confident hiring decisions. It is important that you summarize an interview so you can reflect on the main points of the interview when you have finished interviewing all of the candidates.

You will make mental notes in the moment, but you need to write up some notes afterwards so that you can make an informed decision after the interview process has finished.

If you are not the only person who is making the hiring decision, then you will be able to have an informed discussion with other HR members.

Ultimately, making a summary of an interview will allow you to truly evaluate the candidate and decide whether or not they are suitable for the position.

What You Don’t Need To Summarize

So, in order for a candidate to have even been offered an interview you will have had an application from them. This application is very likely to be made up of a cover letter, a resume and also the application itself. 

All of these documents will not be a part of the candidate’s permanent record; you will not need to summarize these because you will have copies of these. It is also important to stress that these documents should not be used as your notepad.

You should not make notes on these documents and you should not annotate them. If this is something you would want to do then use post-it notes instead.

This is especially important because you don’t want to come under fire for doing anything inappropriate.

Should You Summarize Telephone Interviews?

It is true that a lot of jobs will have a telephone interview before any kind of progression is made to having an in-person interview. These interviews will be essential to really help you reduce the pool of applications that have come in for the job. 

Telephone interviews can be daunting for the interviewer as well as the candidate. This is because these interviews are usually especially brief, but telephone interviews can help you work a lot of different things out about a person.

You should definitely consider summarizing telephone interviews because it can be difficult to remember names and also the key thoughts that you have about a person.

You can do this by putting your cell phone on loudspeaker and then this will ensure that you can make notes as you go along.

When summarizing a telephone interview you are going to need to make a note of how the applicants sound on the call, and you also need to take note of how they speak and also their etiquette on the call.

You need to make sure that you ask the candidate about their work history and then you can determine whether or not they are able to meet the basic requirements that you need for a job, and whether or not they are able to exceed the basic necessities that you need for a job.

Should You Judge A Book By Its Cover?

This is the stage where we have now moved past the telephone interview stage, this is the in-person interview. You can obviously take a lot of information from someone’s appearance, but you need to question whether or not this makes a big impact on your employment decision.

The candidate might not meet your professional visual expectations, however, if they have qualifications and cope well with interview pressure then this is something that you would naturally put above appearance.

You might want to include in your summary your first impression of the candidate – but you should not go any further on the appearance front on this. The interview responses should literally do the talking. 

Summarizing Communication Skills

It is especially key that you focus your summary notes on the communication skills that your candidate shows. It is true that during a face-to-face interview, you will be able to form an opinion of a candidate from the way that they handle and answer your questions.

You also really need to take notice of the candidate’s listening skills too. It is important that you look for candidates who can be confident in what they are saying, but who also know when to take a moment to listen to their interviewer.

You will be able to pull together solid opinions on how the candidate articulates their work history and also how the candidate talks you through their experiences along with the qualifications that they have.

During the interview, if you feel as though you are constantly repeating questions, or if you find that the candidate is not clearly answering the question that you have asked then you should make note of these points in your summary.

There is a difference between angling your answer to show off your strengths, and completely ignoring the question that you have been asked.

Thinking About Professional Traits

Last but not least, you should leave room in your summary to give an outline of the professional traits that the interview candidate shows. Over the course of the interview, you will be able to come to an overall conclusion of how professional the candidate is. 

You do not have to ask the candidate direct questions about how professional they are. After all, if they have made it to the interview stage then it will be pretty clear that they are good at communicating who they are and what they could bring to the job.

You will be able to judge professionalism by identifying the more admirable traits that the candidate shows off while the interview is going on.

If you appreciate the respect of politeness that the candidate shows then you should note this down. But, it is also important that you note down the positives here as well as the negatives. It’s all about reading between the lines.

In Conclusion

Overall, it is especially important that you summarize notes after an interview.

We recommend that you take into consideration your first impressions of the candidate, how effectively your candidate communicates and listens, and you should also note down how professional you think your candidate is. 

Summarizing your interview will really help you, especially if you have a vast number of candidates to get through. Doing this will help you make an informed decision and you can have a fair assessment noted down of all of the candidates.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

3 thoughts on “How To Summarize An Interview

  1. Chelsey Dowd says:

    Great post! I started summarizing my interviews yesterday and it was really good since I got to know the key points if an applicant can be hired or not.

  2. Alana Ray says:

    First impressions are good but getting to know the applicant more while interviewing them is much better. Also, as an HR representative of our company, I don’t really pay attention much to personal appearance when hiring somebody.

  3. Rick Meyers says:

    I am thinking of summarizing my interviews next time. I am new to this job and I think preparing for an interview is essential. I am having a hard time picking the best candidate the last time I did an interview.

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