Here we explored eye movement strategies that lead to better performance in face recognition with hidden Markov models (HMMs). Participants performed a standard face recognition memory task with eye movements recorded. The durations and locations of the fixations were analyzed using HMMs for both the study and the test phases. Results showed that in the study phase, the participants who looked more often at the eyes and shifted between different regions on the face with long fixation durations had better performances. The test phase analyses revealed that an efficient, short first orienting fixation followed by a more analytic pattern focusing mainly on the eyes led to better performances. These strategies could not be revealed by analysis methods that do not take individual differences in both temporal and spatial dimensions of eye movements into account, demonstrating the power of the HMM approach.