In continuing the theme of yesterday’s post on using an interview technique where you do not look directly at the interviewee for most of the discussion, I had a very interesting and poignant comment from a reader.
“I use this technique when “interviewing” (interrogating) my teenage son. He talks much more openly when we are side by side driving along in the car, for example, rather than face to face and eye to eye.
In some cultures, including a few of our own Native American ones, looking face to face and eye-to-eye is considered disrespectful. Looking down away is a sign of respect, (which is) very disconcerting for us, I know. So, side-by-side interviewing might be a good technique to use with immigrants that are still in transition. Looking face to face and eye-to-eye is a notoriously difficult adjustment when you are from a culture that doesn’t do it, and making that adjustment doesn’t happen overnight.” Mary
Mary makes a great point. Not only can a side-by-side interview be very effective with a teenager or anyone who may seem to be on the defensive, the implications for people of other cultures is huge. In fact, this goes beyond the eye contact during the interview. Brazen Careerist ran a great article back in 2009 addressing cultural differences in the job interview.
I’d love to hear from anyone who recruits in other parts of the world where eye contact may be considered disrespectful. What are the ways you alter your interview style to match the expectations and accepted nuances of the culture?