People underestimate the power of a good smile. It doesn’t matter if you are a beauty queen, a GQ model, or just an average Joe: a good smile will get you very far in life.
A “good smile” doesn’t even necessarily mean an attractive one — rather, it means one that is sincere. A sincere smile can make a tense room calm, and it can add levity or brilliance to anything from a funeral to a job interview. This is why it is such a powerful tool to have in your job-hunting toolbox.
The Science of Smiling
Smiling is a universal characteristic of happiness, and it crosses all borders, wether generational, cultural, geographical, or anything in between. Even if someone does not know who you are as a person, a simple smile can disarm their fears and lend not only authenticity to your character, but also a sense of communality that provides a foundation for trust between strangers.
The smile is so ubiquitous in human interactions that it even happens subconsciously. People smile to deflect attention or to gain it. People smile when embarrassed or proud. People smile when they are happy, and even when they are sad. Even babies recognize the importance of smiling: they start doing it at the tender age of five weeks old – long before they’ve ever even heard their first terrible knock-knock joke.
Smiling Interviewer = Smiling New Hire
At a job interview, a genuine smile can put you ahead of the pack and give you an edge on the competition, even if the competition has better credentials or more experience. You see, a smile is actually worth more than either of those things.
When an employer is interviewing candidates, they want someone who will be able to do the job for sure — but what they also want is someone who will work well with the rest of the team they already have in place.
Obviously, you, as a job seeker, need to do some research on the nature of the job and the office environment in order to make sure you’re truly a good fit, but in the end, a quality smile may be exactly what an employer was looking for all along.
I don’t mean to suggest that you turn your interview with that top-prospect employer into a stand-up comedy session, but sharing a laugh with the interviewer will likely get you invited to the second round of interviews. At the very least, it will make you seem more personable than the stiff in the waiting room that brought a pile of charts and graphs, but no sense of humor.
People in general want to enjoy themselves, even during job interviews. When you are interviewing, you should keep a positive attitude and genuinely enjoy the moment. This will lead to a genuine smile, and that will make the interview in general feel more like a conversation than a test — which will make you more memorable than your competition by far.
Don’t Overdo It!
Being genuine is critical to this element of the interview equation. If your smile isn’t genuine, your interviewer will be able to tell, and this could do more harm than good.
An insincere smile isn’t as bad as being rigid, boring, or pretentious, but it won’t help you either! A true smile gives people insight into your personality, and so does an insincere one — but an insincere smile gives insight into personality traits that you likely won’t want to highlight in a job interview!
Smile, You’re on Camera!
In the contemporary world, we often find ourselves being recorded in one medium or another. It is becoming increasingly common for employers to record interviews — sometimes in person, and sometimes via video-interviewing platforms.
Recording interviews makes it easier for escalating levels of management to review candidates without being present for the interview — and it also makes genuine smiling even more important and much more difficult, too. People tend to project when on camera, so remember to be yourself and smile naturally. Everything else will work out fine.
Ultimately, while smiling may be something we all do, not everyone knows how to do it effectively. There is a reason performers across the board from actors to political pundits practice and perfect their smiles – because it’s crucial to their success. If you want the job, it may be crucial to yours, too.