Interviewing & What Your Eyes Are Saying About You: The Importance of Direct Eye Contact

What do your eyes convey to others?

What do your eyes convey to others?

There's a common expression that "the eyes are the window to the soul." Even the Eagles sang about "you can't hide your lying eyes." Perhaps no place focuses on the eyes and body language in general than an employment interview. Looking up, down, away, or making direct eye contact conveys a lot of meaning to the interviewer about your personality.

Direct Eye Contact

It's perfectly understandable to feel nervous during an interview.

It's perfectly understandable to feel nervous during an interview.

Maintaining direct eye contact with the interviewer is a great way to exhibit confidence. You may not feel extremely confident but maintaining eye contact demonstrates your interest in the interview. Direct eye contact shows professionalism, portrays trust and is simply good manners. Most interviewers expect a certain amount of nervousness from candidates. Candidates who are able to maintain eye contact and better yet, whose eyes light up during a certain topic, are those most likely to succeed.

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Not Making Eye Contact

Nothing makes an interviewer pause like a candidate who looks down at the floor when answering a question.  Is it because the candidate must think of a lie or is it because they just aren't interested? The suspicious feeling that someone is hiding something develops when a person won't look at you. Starting off with direct eye contact and shifting during the interview to looking around the room is a red flag as well. Interviewers like and expect consistency from candidates; it's what makes for great employees.

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Sometimes an interview question will just stump you and you literally need a minute to think of your answer. Taking a moment to look away in order to gather your thoughts isn't a crime; just don't do it for long. The longer you take, the more it will seem that you are making up the answer. If you need a minute, look away, then re-establish eye contact and ask a follow-up question. This demonstrates that you hear what they are asking yet you want to make sure you fully understand the question.

The Difference Between Direct Eye Contact & A Stare

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It sounds silly but a stare is when you take direct eye contact to the extreme. When direct eye contact is too focused or too intense, it is uncomfortable and intimidating.  Add rapid blinking to the mix and the interview is awkward for everyone. Direct eye contact is best thought of as a form of engagement. It's the type of focus that says, "I'm interested in what you are saying" and it makes you a more likable person. Interviewing takes a chunk of everyone's time. Showing an interviewer that you remain interested in the position and that you are there to truly interview is invaluable to moving forward.

Leave Your Nerves at the Door

Remember the power of direct eye contact: confidence, likability, and trustworthiness.

Remember the power of direct eye contact: confidence, likability, and trustworthiness.

Practice your direct eye contact when talking with friends and family. You may discover that you haven't been truly listening to them lately. In our fast-paced and high-tech world, text messages have replaced one-to-one conversations. We have less practice with personal conversations leading us to more nerves at interviews than ever. Even practice with the clerk at the grocery store; look them in the eye when you thank them. When it's time for your interview, decide to leave your nerves at the door.

Securing an interview is your first step in the door of an organization. Exhibiting great eye contact throughout the interview is important to your overall body language.

For more information regarding interview tips and tools, contact us. Brannon Professionals has over 20 years experience helping employers select top talent and assisting job seekers in their search for good career opportunities. We look forward to helping you find the perfect fit.

Best Advice on How to Portray a Strong Professional Image at an Interview

Choosing what to wear for your job interview is important. Why? Because your clothes say a lot about who you are, what you want, and what you are like. Common tips that people give on how to dress for an interview include quotes like:

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It is always better to dress up than down.
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Dress in power colors.

Though some tips may seem like common sense, it is important to understand the ‘why.’ Why should you wear red instead of orange? Why does the dip in your neckline or the wrinkles on your shirt say more about who you are than your resume? Let’s take a closer look at some tips on how to dress for an interview and delve into the psychology behind them.

Dress in More Conservative Colors to Convey a Professional Image

According to a CareerBuilder study, “… many employers felt more conservative colors such as black, blue, gray and brown conveyed a sense of professionalism.” The colors you wear portray different images to your interviewer. Below is a list of what some of the different colors may convey to interviewers:

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Black portrays an image of leadership, authority, and power.

Blue means you are a calm and loyal team player.

Brown says that you are solid, reliable, and dependable.

White portrays cleanliness, organization, and simplicity.

Your appearance counts for a lot, in fact, according to “Dress for Interview Success”, an article on Forbes.com, the “halo effect” was studied in the 1900s by psychologist E.L. Thorndike. He noticed that when a person is thought to have one desirable trait, that same individual is assumed to have other traits that are also desirable. In other words, when your overall dress and appearance are perceived in a positive way, it is assumed that you have will have other desirable traits as well. According to Kim Zoller in the same article, "Other factors that affect hiring, such as being prepared for the interview, researching the company and following up after the meeting, are all trumped by appearance.”

Tailor-made for Men

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In a study done by Psychologytoday.com, 300 adults looked at images of a man in different suits – one tailor-made and one bought on the street - for three seconds and made judgments about what they thought of him. The tailor-made suit was preferred as, “They rated him as more confident, successful, flexible and a higher earner in a tailor-made suit than when he wore a high street equivalent.”

Conservative for Women

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Plunging necklines and short skirts are a no, no when dressing for an interview. Dressing more conservatively is a common job interview tip given to women. Why? Because, in the study done by psychologytoday.com, “People rated the senior manager less favorably when her dress style was more ‘provocative’ and more favorably when dressed more conservatively…”

When in doubt, opt for more conservative styles: knee length skirts, conservative blouses (nothing sleeveless), shorter heels, etc.

Shoes and Accessories

Did you know that your shoes can tell your story?! According to an experiment recorded on medicaldaily.com, observers were asked to provide their most frequently worn shoes, and “63 observers were then asked to look at each pair and guess the gender, age, social status and different personality traits of the owner…”  The observers did well in guessing these things; thus, the researchers concluded that “…people do wear shoes that reveal their personality, whether they intend to or not.”

Psychologists from the University of Kansas also discovered some interesting insights about what people think of you based on your shoes in a study. Here are some of the findings according to dailymail.co.uk:

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  • Expensive shoes suggest high earners.
  • Flashy and colorful shoes mean you are an extrovert.
  • Clean shoes which may not be new, signify that you are conscientious.
  • Functional shoes mean you are agreeable.
  • Brand new and well-kept shoes sometimes meant that you are more anxious.
  • Less expensive shoes tended to belong to more liberal thinkers.

When it comes to high heels, the French sociologist Marcel Mauss did research and according to theconversation.com, “the high heel repositions the posture, lengthening the calf muscles, pulling the hips inwards, tightening the bottom muscles and pushing the chest forward. The result is a feminine and disciplined body. In contrast, a flat shoe like a Birkenstock allows the foot to spread and the body to relax.” The article goes on to discuss how the types of shoes you wear affect the way your body looks and feels and will, in turn, effect how you feel and present yourself.

Choose your shoes for your job interview based on how they make you look, how they make you feel, and by what they will tell your interviewer at a glance.

First Impression

You have about two seconds to make a positive first impression, and the primary thing your interviewer will base that on is how you look – so make sure your clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories are sending the right message.

Learn more tips on how to dress for an interview by contacting a recruiter at Brannon Professionals or checking out our website at www.brannonprofessionals.com today.