The Magic of a Smile
A genuine smile goes a long way. It is one of your most winning strategies in a job interview. Only, don't overdo it
Lots of Interviews but Zero Offers
I have conducted a LOT of interviews. Both genuine and mock interviews, particularly in my role as Employment Coach. Now, I haven’t kept a tally but I’d estimate that more than 50% of people I've interviewed forget to smile. I’m an advisor, not a mathematician, but even I know that is half the people I have interviewed!
Take this typical case as an example. A few months ago, a new client came in for a preliminary consultation. Highly qualified (he had attended Cambridge University) and experienced in his field the issue was that, even though his applications were extraordinarily successful and bagging interviews almost every time, he wasn’t getting any job offers.
Within 5 minutes of meeting this client, both Sue and I knew exactly why this individual wasn't having any success in interviews. This client didn't smile or reciprocate smiles, which is even worse. It was like having one of Harry Potter's Dementors in the room, sucking out all our joy.
Consider your Interviewer
After our client had left, we evaluated the session and we both agreed that his body language and facial signals were letting him down and he would benefit from some coaching in this area. We felt that interviewers were likely turned off by finding him cold and unyielding. The last thing an employer wants is someone in their team who will bring the mood down. Even though he may have been up against less qualified candidates, the candidate who comes across as friendly and approachable will nearly always win.
Smiling and displaying warm non-verbal communication matters a great deal. In situations where all interviewed candidates are equally qualified , there is no other way of determining who to choose than on personality and gut feeling. Not only this, employers will often choose a friendly but lesser qualified candidate who shows potential over a miserable, highly qualified one.
It’s perfectly normal to be a bag of nerves in a job interview and a seasoned interviewer will understand this. The impact of smiling in a job interview cannot be overstated. Smiling helps you to relax and relaxes the interviewer as well. Remember, the person asking the questions will feel ill at ease with you if you are sending out uncomfortable signals and not reciprocating smiles and eye contact. They will be paying less attention to what you are saying and more to how you (and they) are feeling.
Switch on the Charm Before you Enter the Door
It’s worth bearing in mind that your interview starts the moment you walk into the venue. Someone I know will say it starts the moment you leave your house for the interview but that's a story for another day.
The interviewer will likely ask the receptionist about their first impressions, so make sure you greet the front desk with a warm, natural smile and pass the time of day. If other candidates are waiting, demonstrate courtesy by saying hello with a smile. Should any staff be passing or in the vicinity, make a point of catching their eye and flash your pearly whites. The receptionist and other employees are watching ! Your interviewer may ask about their observations and impressions so the outcome for you could hinge on their opinion.
Say Cheese but Don't Spread it too Thickly!
It might feel awkward but break the ice by making brief but strong eye contact and crack a smile the moment you meet your interviewer. A little small talk can go a long way as well. Only, don’t overdo the smile and risk coming across as a nutjob! No need to fix your face with a manic grin all the way through as long as you DO smile, from time to time, at appropriate moments.
This isn’t rocket science or a revelation. However, it is a blunder many people we see continue to make, often without realising, so be conscious of it, whoop it’s ass and get that job offer!