You have probably often heard that making eye contact during a job interview is very important. Do you know when to look at your interviewer and when to look away? A very shy person, who is unsure of himself during an interview, may not look at the person interviewing him enough, and will unintentionally communicate his uncertainty. A lack of confidence in yourself translates to the interviewer as a lack of ability to do the job.
Making eye contact with your interviewer should feel natural. There are times in conversation when you look away and think about what you are going to say. It is perfectly acceptable if your eyes look up as you are remembering an example you want to tell the interviewer. This is a natural reaction when we are thinking. We look up, we may look to the side when we are remembering something. Avoid looking down, however, when you are thinking about what your answer will be. Looking down is a sign of shame or embarrassment. You do not want to convey either of those messages.
Be sure that you do not make eye contact more than you would in a normal conversation. When you answer a question, be sure to look at the interviewer as you are speaking. If you have more than one person interviewing you, you can easily look at one person, speak several words and then shift to make eye contact with another person in the room who is also interviewing you.
Looking too long at someone without a break becomes a stare, or intense and intrusive looking. Remember that in the animal kingdom a direct stare, or a prolonged look directly into the eyes is a direct threat and can lead to an attack. You certainly do not want your interviewer to feel that you are trying to intimate or being aggressive.
How can you find out if you are making the right amount of eye contact before you go on a job interview? Make a list of three questions that you would expect to be asked in an interview. Then, think about how you want to answer those questions.
Next ask a friend or family member to ask you the three questions you have chosen. Ask him or her to notice how often you make eye contact and whether or not you are looking down when you pause to think. Ask if your eye contact was comfortable for the person who is asking the interview questions. Ask if there were any times when he or she wanted you to look at them, but you did not.
If you get all positive results, then good. You might want to ask someone else to do the same exercises with you. It is always good to have more than one opinion. If your feedback was that you did not make enough eye contact or that you looked down when thinking, then keep practicing.
Be aware whenever you have a conversation of how often you look at the person in the eyes. Be aware of where you look when you break eye contact and keep training yourself not to look down. Practice until you know that making eye contact is not an issue for you. You want to focus more on the questions during the job interview, so you can give your best answers.
Easter Becker-Smith is a trusted leadership and development life coach. She has interviewed thousands of people throughout her business career. Her blog at http://coacheaster.com is very helpful and insightful for keeping a positive mindset while job searching. She also offers on tips on job interviewing skills, as well as workshops and one on one job interviewing coaching.