The Importance of Eye Contact During an Interview

Do you know what colour eyes your last interviewer had? Can you remember if they wore glasses or not? If the answer to these questions are anything but an emphatic ‘yes,’ it could be that you did not make appropriate eye contact during interview. But, why is a failure to make appropriate eye contact during a job interview in Dubai such a problem? It is vital that interviewees make appropriate eye contact throughout the interview as it could be the difference between interview success and interview failure.

Yes indeed, take the findings of a study from Winona State University, called the Importance of Eye Contact During an Interview which found that one when two candidates with equal levels of experience and qualifications are interviewed, the one who makes the most appropriate eye contact throughout the interview will be seen as more ‘competitive’ and more ‘employable’. As you can see, making appropriate eye contact during your interview in Dubai, or anywhere for that matter of fact, is crucial in showing you are the best candidate for the job.

So, since appropriate eye contact is so pivotal in finding a job, what must an interviewee do to engage in appropriate levels of eye contact during the interview?

First Impressions

Interviewers tend to make a decision about a candidate within 30 seconds of meeting them, according to a study by the University of Toledo.  This means that you must make a powerful first impression and, along with  a firm handshake and a warm smile, the third hallmark of a great introduction with your interviewer is to make appropriate eye contact, which means to maintain eye contact during the duration of the handshake. Avoiding eye contact can make you look uncertain, less confident and even a little untrustworthy.

Avoid staring

There is a difference between making sustained eye contact and staring. When you make eye contact correctly it should feel very natural and should not feel like a stare. If you hold eye contact for more than 5 seconds or so at any one time, it could feel like a stare and may make the interviewer feel awkward.

When  thinking about your answer to an interview question

When you are formulating an answer to a question, its perfectly natural and therefore a perfect time to look away from the interviewer, to give both sides some respite. You could look high and to the left or right to signify you are deep in thought or trying to recall an example for your answer. This is perfectly normal behaviour which makes you appear as if you are thinking. Avoid looking downwards, particularly when answering as it appears both submissive, evasive and can be interpreted as a lack of confidence.

When you are in the process of responding to a question or asking a question yourself

When you are  in the process of responding to a question or asking a question your self, you should be making eye contact with the interviewer. During a group interview, make sure to make eye contact with each member of the interview panel as this will engage the whole panel and create a stronger impression on the group.

Good luck with your next interview.

About the author

Kazim Ladimeji is the Director of—a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers. It includes a blog with career and small business advice articles. Kazim is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practising HR professional for 14 years.

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