Making eye contact


Confidence is a funny thing, not funny  ha ha, funny unusual. 

The difficulty we have is how other people interpret confidence. Different people identify with different levels of confidence and relate to people demonstrating confidence differently depending on their own level of confidence. 

Some people think a super confident person is actually an arrogant person. Others think someone who is quietly confident and self-assured is actually timid or passive. 

You can see how working on building your confidence can be a challenge in getting the level just right!

Building your confidence is about getting comfortable with the behaviours interviewers value most. 

One of the first things to get comfortable with is making eye contact in the right way and for the right amount of time. Sometimes people say, sheesh, how difficult can it be? Well, the truth is eye contact is very important. Some people think the eyes are the window to the real person, so take a look at how you make eye contact now and practice making it the very best it can be. 

Making eye contact for too long with someone can be uncomfortable for them and for us. There is research to suggest that more than 5 seconds at a time may indicate a romantic interest or an aggressive approach, you don't want the interviewer to think your eye contact is signalling either of these things!  Looking away too quickly or avoiding eye contact can be interpreted as anxiety, lack of confidence or even dishonesty, again we really don't want the interviewer to think any of these things about us.

The best way to get it right is to practice!  Start with some eye contact practice with yourself in the mirror. Imagine a black marker line just above your eyes, then a line across each cheek, meeting in a point just under your lips on your chin. This area is considered the influence triangle and the bit of the face most people concentrate on when communicating.

Start to practice your interview eye contact technique by adjusting your gaze around the triangle you have imagined, across the eyes and down to the lips, then glance away. 

You can practice eye contact for no more than 5 seconds across the eye area and then move your gaze to the lips for 5 seconds then back to the eyes, this is considered a good level of eye contact to avoid a confused message. 

Count into yourself so you get used to what 5 seconds feels like, once you have practiced a few times you will get a feel for the right amount of time to spend making eye contact when you meet an interviewer.

Of course, you can look at things in the room, just make sure you look back at the interviewer and use this technique to show you are confident and interested in what they are asking. 

Practice with friends and family, make it a game, try too much eye contact, then too little, then just right - it's amazing to hear what people say when you get it wrong even with people you know.

You might also want to check out how the interviewer is doing on maintaining eye contact with you and see how you feel about the length of time they maintain their gaze while you are speaking.

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