During a job interview, many applicants focus on the responses they are giving to the questions being asked. Most people will even prepare answers beforehand to questions that are likely to be asked. However, not enough people give the same amount of attention to all the nonverbal necessities of a job interview, namely eye contact.
Making the right amount of eye contact during an interview is a great way to ensure that you make a positive first impression. If your eyes are constantly darting toward the wall or your feet, then you will inadvertently convey to the interviewer that you are nervous or disinterested in the position. Looking at the interviewer will convey that you are confident in yourself and in your answers.
Maintaining eye contact is also useful for showing that you are being honest in your responses. If you are asked a question and then you start blinking a lot of divert your attention elsewhere, then you will be giving off the impression that you are trying to avoid telling the truth. A consistent level of interaction through the eyes is the best policy when it comes to showcasing your honesty.
How to Maintain Eye Contact During an Interview
Consistently looking someone in the eyes can come more naturally to some people than others, but even if you are not the most sociable person around, there are ways to help you showcase this essential nonverbal trait. You need to establish your ability to sustain eye contact early on in the interview. This can be accomplished by looking the interviewer in the eyes when you shake his or her hand. This sets a good precedent for the rest of the interview.
Although the importance of looking at the interviewer has been stressed, it is important to remember not to stare fixedly at the person sitting across from you. It is okay to break your gaze every now and then to convey a friendlier and more natural demeanor. A good point in interviews to break is when you have to think about a response. If you need a few seconds to think about your answer, then feel free to look away for a moment and then realign your eyesight.
Certain points of an interview need to be more emphasized than others, and it is at these moments where you really want to make intense eye contact. This will make you appear much more passionate and sincere in your answer, and it will make the interviewer much more likely to remember your answer at the end of the day. Hiring managers often interview dozens of applicants for a given position, so any way you can make yourself stand out is definitely going to help.
How to Get Better at Holding Eye Contact
The same way that there are ways to practice giving your answers to interview questions, there are also ways for you to practice at being better at holding eye contact. Something good to do for any interview is to get a family member or friend to read you sample interview questions and give your responses. You should use these practice interviews as a chance to also develop your nonverbal communication skills. In addition to focusing on your responses, tell your practice interviewer to also pay attention to how well you are looking at him or her.
Another good practice method for looking at people is to establish and maintain eye contact with strangers as you walk past them on the street. It might be uncomfortable at first to look directly at strangers, but it will become second nature if you do it often enough. The person interviewing you will be a stranger at first, but if you are used to looking at everyone you come across, it will be much easier to look at them in the eyes.
An important rule of thumb to follow is to always be honest with your responses during an interview. This is vital for a number of reasons, but people are more likely to divert their gaze when they are lying. If you are lying about an experience you had or the interviewer asks you to talk about something on your resume that you made up, then the chances are high that you will show you are lying through your eyes. Just be truthful in your answers. It will ultimately be best if you are offered the position.