Interview tips beyond the usual

  • Stephanie Clark

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The Eyes Have It

Posted by Stephanie on November 8, 2011

Last week a mother called me looking for interview help for her son. This isn’t unusual – I have lots of parents calling, looking to give their newly graduated children an employment push! But this fellow had been out of school for 10 years! And his issue? Mom shared that he needs interview coaching as he struggles with maintaining eye contact.

This is not something that an interview coach can “fix”; all we can do is point it out, with sensitivity of course. The “fix” is beyond the scope of an interview coach’s role.

The issue is not eye contact as that is but a symptom; the issue might be self esteem or self confidence or self acceptance. Whatever it might be, it’s a different kind of counselling.

And yet, mother is right to worry. First impressions count and people skills count.

A poll of recruiters conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management ( tells us this: a hiring decision relies over 40 percent on organizational fit, and the decision to not hire the candidate is made in about 15 minutes by over 50 percent of recruiters. (30 percent do so within 5 minutes and another 30 percent do so within 15 minutes!).

What, you may be wondering, is considered optimum eye contact in North America? In conversation a person maintains eye contact approximately 75 – 80 percent of the time. Constant, unflagging contact would be uncomfortable.

If you see your interviewer looking away from your unflinching gaze, take note and look away. Learning to “read” body language is critical to effective relationships, even a one-hour interview.


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