New research says doing this in job interviews can seriously harm your chances
People love to talk about body language and often like to say that 55% of communication is nonverbal. While there isn’t actually any solid evidence for this, we can probably state with confidence that “some” communication is nonverbal. So, the results of this study should be of interest to job seekers.
You know that winning smile you plaster on your face during job interviews? Stop doing that. It doesn’t help. Science says so.
In a new study, Mollie Ruben and Judith Hall of Northeastern University’s psychology department, along with Marianne Schmid Mast, a professor in the Department of Organizational Behavior at University of Lausanne, have found that “smiling can have a negative effect on applicants in all careers, though it is particularly harmful to those in fields perceived as more serious, such as reporting, managing and data entry.”
Smiling was not as disadvantageous for applicants for positions seen as less serious and more social, “such as teaching, sales or deejaying.”
Ruben, the lead author, said, “I think it is intuitive that you should smile to show you’re friendly. But when someone smiles throughout an interview, it can make them seem less competent or serious.”
This echoes exactly what we were recently told by body language expert Susan Constantine.
“If you want to be taken seriously,” Constantine said, “you want to use a more neutral facial expression. People want to charm with a smile, but research shows smiling can actually diminish your perceived value. You’re not taken as seriously when you’re over smiling.”
Other things Constantine cautioned against are nodding your head too much and leaning too far forward. She said, “Because people want the job so badly, they tend to over smile, bob their head consistently, and lean forward. They’re trying too hard to be likable.”
Instead, lean back and relax. Let your amazing skills and credentials to some of the work.
Of course you have to smile. Just not the whole time. The new study found that it’s best to smile at the beginning and end of an interview, and lay off the grin in between.
Of course, there’s no quick fix for doing your research on the company, something we talk about endlessly around here – and that many people simply can’t be bothered to do, apparently. In doing that research, you may well be able to figure out how much smiling you’re expected to do during the interview.
“Know what is expected of you in terms of how you should be perceived just as you would in terms of the work you produce,” Ruben is quoted as saying by The Huntington News. “It’s important to do your research to find out what nonverbal behaviors are required of that job.”