With thanks to Edwin Starr; “Contact” (20th Century Fox Records 1978)
Q. What do a classic 1970s disco hit and the latest Artificial Intelligence-led recruitment systems have in common?
A. They both emphasise the importance of eye contact in building relationships
The issue of how to “do” eye contact, especially for the now ubiquitous online and video interviews, is something that we all worry about. We know that we should be ensuring that we make eye contact in these situations. It’s something you’re likely to get feedback on if you do a practice interview here in the Careers Service (either face to face or virtually) or during an employer event.
Many employers’ automated screening systems are able to identify whether or not an interviewee is making “eye contact” with the camera. They are even able to process “micro-expressions” and other body-language giveaways.
….But how do you actually get eye contact with an algorithm, especially when your laptop camera is at the top of your screen?
Well we won’t have to wait long before “eye contact correction software” (yes really!) appears on all of our devices rather than just the high end ones: here's an article telling us it's here already Ponders...Does that mean we will be able to gaze out of the window during yet another interminable Zoom meeting and no-one will ever know?
And even more sophisticated AI will soon be able to tell from your pupils that actually you would be eyeballing the interviewer if they were in front of you in the room IRL.
In the meantime however, here are some top tips for getting that essential eye-to-eye contact during an online interview:
• For pre-recorded video interviews where there is no-one actually on screen you can practise looking directly at your webcam. Don’t just stare at it though or you could end up looking pretty creepy! Recruit a friend to try this out with….This is where practise makes perfect
• For online interviews with a “live interviewer” it’s only natural to look at their eyes/face on the screen (so not into the camera) and it’s likely that for the majority of the time that’s what they will be doing to you too. Be guided by them, if they make eye contact with the webcam from time to time you can mirror that intermittently. In fact do that even if they don’t! But avoid stressing about it – there are other more important things to concentrate on
• Raise your laptop up on books so that the webcam is at eye level. This not only ensures that people aren’t looking up your nose, but it makes it easier to look at the camera
• Reduce the size of the image and then reposition the video window to the nearest possible point on the screen to your webcam
• Stick a picture of a person you like at the top of your screen behind the webcam
• Raid your little sister’s pencil case for stick-on Googly Eyes and stick them either side of the webcam (this honestly works)…avoiding appearing cross-eyed by positioning sufficiently far apart to mirror where they would be on a normal face!
When you're preparing for an interview the most important thing to concentrate on is the thing you're most nervous about; if you kick that one into touch you will be left with plenty more headspace for making a great impression. If worries about eye contact are niggling away at you then try some of these ideas out to see what works for you.
Not even for a moment
What I saw in your eyes made me realize
(You I wanted) Yeah, yeah, yeah