When I was in law school, I had a couple of mock interviews arranged by the career center. Neither was particularly successful. During the second, I was distracted by the interviewer’s amazing view from the Sears Tower. I knew I wasn’t giving the interview my full attention, but yet I was powerless to stop staring out the window. I consoled myself that it wasn’t a real interview.
The view wasn’t my problem during the first mock interview: that interview was conducted in a window-less, closet-sized room in the library. I actually had thought everything was going fairly well until, when the interview portion had concluded and the reviewing portion had begun, the interview set down her papers, crossed her arms, and said, “I’ve never had to tell anyone this, but you smile too much.”
I couldn’t even make sense of that. I was sure that I hadn’t been smiling cheesily or vapidly throughout the interview; I was sure that I hadn’t even been grinning nervously. I had been feeling relaxed, and so I had been smiling. I liked law school, and it was easy for me to smile when I talked about it. Didn’t that reflect positively on me? That I enjoyed what I was doing? Nevertheless, I nodded seriously and wrote smile less in my notes.
I thought about it for the next couple of weeks, making concerted efforts to put a serious expression on my face during class. (Unfortunately, I think my expression of “serious thought” with knitted eyebrows was awfully close to my expression of “now, wait, that doesn’t make sense.”) Then I promptly discarded my interview notes. I wasn’t going to smile less. That was ridiculous. If I’m pleased to meet someone or enjoying the conversation, I’m going to smile, even if I’m in a professional situation.
In fact, I would smile especially if I was in a professional situation. When I began having real interviews for jobs, it was my enthusiasm for bankruptcy law that led an excellent conversation with the interviewer from the firm that eventually hired me. I’m obviously not saying that I got that job just on a smile, but the smile certainly didn’t hurt anything.
Read Katie’s blog (the name of which came about from that mock interview) at Perky to a Fault!