Maintain Consistent and Interested Eye
We have all heard the expression, "Look me in the eyes and tell me
that." Why is that? It's because people believe that
if you are looking at them directly in the eyes, then you are telling them the
truth … regardless of whether you are or not. During an interview,
maintaining consistent and interested eye contact is CRITICAL. Chances
are you are meeting this person for the first time. Your interviewer
is not only tasked with determining your skills, they are also determining who
you are and what you are all about. When you maintain consistent and
interested eye contact, you establish credibility and confidence.
Several years ago, I attended what I consider to be the best interview of my
life. I believe it was the best interview because I did well; but
more importantly, my interviewer was excellent. The following is a
"Readers Digest version" of what took place. You will note
that some of these questions far exceed what is legally or customarily
acceptable in an interview. However, at the time and even to this
day, it has never bothered me.
Interviewer: What does your father do?
Me: I don't know.
Interviewer: You don't know?
Me: No. No one in my family has anything to do with him.
Interviewer: What? Is he in jail?
Me: No. I think he's a very successful businessman.
Interviewer: What does your mother do?
Me: She teaches at a nursery school.
He then asked me about each of my four siblings and what they did. I
responded that one was an engineer, one was in law-school, another in graduate
school, and the last was an undergraduate. While he was asking me
these questions, he was scribbling on a yellow pad of paper and occasionally
glancing up at me. How often he looks up, I'll soon find out.
Me: Can I ask YOU a question?
Interviewer: What is it?
Me: Why are you asking me all these questions?
Interviewer: (He paused for a moment) I don't give a (expletive) what
you say. It's how you say it. When I asked you about your
mother, you looked me straight in the eyes and responded. When I
asked you about your father, you looked out the window (He then returned to
scribbling on his paper).
Me: I’m impressed (and I was)!
This man had me pegged! It was not from what I said, but how I
looked at him when I said it. I lacked confidence when I spoke about
my father; it was not a topic I was comfortable with. It was if I was
playing poker and I tipped my hand to where my weaknesses were. Had I
looked him dead in the eyes, he would never have gotten the same impression as
When discussing the topics where you feel most vulnerable, whether it’s
your skills, background, work history, etc., these are the most important times
for you to maintain eye contact. Regardless of what you say, if you
are confident in how you say it, it will carry your answer. Always,
always, always, maintain consistent and interested eye contact!!!