Paper: How not to stuff up your job interview

Micro-expressions, on the other hand can give away a lot.

There is a school of thought that says that there is no such thing as sad eyes. Well, if you look at the eyes without the context of the face, that might be true. But actually, eyes do respond to stimuli. You think I’m talking about light and dark and, yes, that’s true but also the pupils respond to, amongst other things, sexual interest.

The pupils dilate, if you really want to know and it’s been known for decades.

In 2012, at the height of pop-psychology, a study at an American university reported research that the reaction of the pupil was a reliable guide to sexual orientation. It sounds like a masterly statement of the obvious: dilation occurs when you find a person attractive, and sexual orientation is actually irrelevant to the process but may be useful if you are out cruising.

But here’s the thing: pupil dilation is actually a response to anything attractive. So, if your movements in the interview are open and welcoming but, I strongly emphasise, not flirtatious, that can generate in the interviewers an automatic reaction which – and here’s the science bit – has a physical manifestation that goes beyond pupil dilation.

At one end of the spectrum there is, of course, sexual arousal but that’s not where we want to be. We want to be at the point where the target, that is the interviewer, becomes hyper-aware of your best qualities. It can increase the heart rate and change breathing patterns but that’s a bit more extreme than we are going to do.

What we are going to do is simple: sitting in the chair, lean just a tiny bit forward, keeping your eyes and chin level. With one open hand, hold it palm out, elbow bent so that it’s only slightly extended, towards the person who asked the question and move it slightly, forward and backwards. Here it sounds ridiculous; in the right environment, it catches the corner of the target’s eye while you are holding his expression with your eyes. It says “I’m already part of this team, all you have to do is say “yes.””