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.

handshake and eye contact when meeting others

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.

thinking lady

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

staring during a conversation or dialog

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.