Recently, as I sat across a table interviewing a nice person, I started to worry I might be staring into his eyes and/or at his face too much. (Not in a romantic way.) Was I coming across as a creeper? But then when I tried looking off in the distance or over his shoulder, I worried I looked like I was bored with what he was saying. The interview was on a deeply personal topic (why yes, it was cancer) and he was super interesting.
Luckily he mostly looked other places as he was talking, which seemed normal, so maybe my intense (?) staring wasn’t freaking him out, but when he did look at my face, I felt like maybe there was too much mutual staring going on.
I’m so awkward sometimes! At least, I frequently feel awkward. Feeling awkward probably means I am awkward. I tell myself it’s because I’m a writer and writers are sometimes lacking in finer social skills, but it’s probably just me.
How often should you look directly at someone’s face while they’re talking? What about while you’re talking? It seems to me that if you’re the one doing the talking, it’s OK to look away because obviously you’re engaged in the conversation if you’re the one talking. But if you aren’t the one talking, maybe it’s incumbent on you to look at the other person while he’s talking?
So after a while I decided to look at his chin instead of in his eyes, but then I felt like maybe I was overthinking the whole thing and he’d wonder if he had something on his chin. So I went back to looking at his eyes, which sounds weird but I swear I wasn’t trying to be.
I got back to the office and on my Facebook feed was a Mashable link to this article about how it’s generally not a good idea to look someone in the eyes.
In my defense, I used to have this friend who never, ever looked at me when we were talking. She was always looking over my shoulder, as if she was looking around for someone more interesting to talk to. It was off-putting.
I know what you’re thinking: she was probably trying to avoid your creepy-intense eye contact! But I did mention her weird habit to mutual friends and they all experienced the same thing. So it isn’t just me. Really.
Which leaves me with the question of where to look during interviews. Any help from you non-creepers out there would be appreciated.