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The Role of Eye Contact in Job Interviews and How It’s Changing

Written by: Mike Wood / Lucy Walters
Published on: 2 Feb 2019

Eye Contact During An InterviewTraditionally, eye contact is seen as a sign of confidence and engagement when used strategically in job interviews. It suggests to the interviewer that you are focused, trustworthy, and interested in the discussion at hand.

However, as we deepen our understanding of individual differences, it’s crucial to acknowledge that eye contact may not be a comfortable indicator of confidence or interest for everyone. Cultural variations, social anxiety, and neurodiversity are just a few factors that can impact a person’s ability to engage in sustained eye contact. If you’re a jobseeker who struggles with eye contact, remember there are still numerous ways to demonstrate your passion and suitability for a role. You can:

  • Use your voice to convey enthusiasm. The tone, pitch, and pace of your speech can powerfully communicate your eagerness for the position.
  • Employ active listening techniques. Show you're engaged by nodding, smiling, and providing verbal affirmations.
  • Focus on alternative engagement. If eye contact is challenging, try directing your gaze to the interviewer's forehead or to a point just above their eyes. This can feel less intense while still showing attentiveness.
  • Share your reservations, if comfortable. A brief explanation of your discomfort with direct eye contact can go a long way toward preventing misunderstanding—be it cultural preferences, personal discomfort, or neurodiversity.
  • Project confidence through your posture. Sitting upright, leaning slightly forward, and avoiding closed-off body language can all signal that you're both confident and engaged, even if direct eye contact is minimal.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Before the interview, calming exercises such as deep breathing can reduce anxiety, which in turn can help make eye contact—or the interview itself—less daunting.

Articulate Your Unique Strengths…

For those who find eye contact difficult, remember that enthusiasm, expertise, and authenticity speak volumes. By showcasing a rich tapestry of verbal and non-verbal cues, you can articulate your unique strengths and sincere interest in a role, even in a life science landscape that is more competitive than ever.

Article updated April 2024.