Over the last few months, I have gotten used to meetings with no eye contact. It was a bit disconcerting at first. I missed the knowing look, the flash of recognition and the other things that eyes do in a conversation.
Eye contact in interviews is especially important. That’s where a lot of the “connection” happens between a candidate and an interviewer. It can feel disjointed when that element is missing.
I did some thinking about this last week and tried a few experiments. The best way to simulate eye contact is to look directly at the camera. The trouble is that there are a bunch of other things to look at besides the camera and it is impossible to look at the camera and the person speaking at the same time.
First, move the Zoom/Teams window as close to the camera lens as possible. I work with two monitors and if I put the video call window on the upper screen, the person I am speaking with gets a lovely view of my neck. (heavy sarcasm there – at my age, my neck is not at all lovely).
Nudge the window right under the camera. Then alternate looking at the camera and the person in the video call window. When the two are pretty close, it might feel like your eyes are flitting in a maniacal fashion, but it won’t look that way on the other end.
The second thing to do, and this takes practice, is to look into the camera when you are speaking. You don’t have to do this for everything you say but when you are saying something substantial or telling a great story, look right into the camera. It feels weird but it really makes a difference.
I tried this with several colleagues and a couple of candidates last week and they said it really made a difference.
Your eyes will get a bit tired at first, but it won’t take long for it to feel more natural.
Try it on a couple of calls. Don’t tell anyone what you are doing but at the end of the call, ask if they noticed anything different. I bet they will.