There are so many little things…so many details that a professional must master in order to put his/her best foot forward in an interview – and the workplace. The quality of a handshake, good eye contact, proper attire, being on time, expressing enthusiasm, the thank you note. All musts for the A Player. But of all the qualities, one in particular takes on special importance:
Your smile is one of the most important assets you have. Not only does it impact the opinion and mood of others, it influences your own state of being. In an interview, an introduction accompanied by a big smile starts the discussion on a positive note. It communicates to an employer that you are happy to be there, engaged and “ready to go”. It brings energy, warmth and connection as well. As the interview continues, so should the smile – genuinely, and throughout the conversation. A great smile also creates a more enjoyable experience and greater level of engagement. It lifts a conversation and a mood. It also lifts…You.
Studies have concluded that the more people smile, the happier and more successful they are. The beauty of this fact is that our smile is a tool we can use and control to create positive effects. But many professionals are not cognizant of their smile – or its power. So it’s an act that isn’t given much, if any thought.
How aware are you of your smile? How often do you smile? Should you do it more? What about the quality of your smile? Is it good or does it need improvement? If you’re not sure of any of the above, I recommend that you get better acquainted with your grin: Look in the mirror, take a photo, ask a friend. Then take inventory of what you see.
The anatomy of a good smile starts with the quality of your pearly whites. In a smile, your teeth are the stars of the show. So they should look as good as possible. This means proper care: Brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist. It also includes whitening if your teeth are stained from coffee or tea. If you have any larger issues like chipped teeth, it would make sense to explore the cost of repair. And before you set foot in your interview, check your teeth for food or rogue lipstick. This all might sound obvious – and perhaps a bit trivial, but you’d be surprised how often these details are neglected and the negative consequences that can arise. So why are teeth such a big deal? Because people notice teeth. And if there is something distracting about them, it can create a lasting impression and undermine your candidacy. So do what you can to ensure that your teeth are in good shape.
The frequency of your smile is important as well. The more…the merrier. That doesn’t mean you should sport a perpetual smile in an interview. By doing so you’ll come off as weird. But be mindful to smile – and use your judgment when it’s appropriate to do so. If you feel that your smile is unnatural or you are uncomfortable trying to “force” a smile, then practice. Start where you can truly express appreciation and you enjoy people: perhaps your coffee shop barista, close colleagues, friends or family. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel and the happier you will be. Come interview time, your smile will be one of your best assets.
In the professional world, first impressions are powerful. And the best ones are not defined by one thing, but by many qualities and traits. The smile is part of this important group of many – and its benefits can be far reaching. So spend some time and care on your “cheese” and you’ll find that there will be a whole lot more in your career…and life to smile about.