When we flex our facial muscles in various combinations and degrees, we produce different expressions, and it’s these expressions that give those who see us clues as to our emotional state. Facial gestures and expressions can communicate our sense of well-being, our mood and personality.
It’s these facial expressions that make us approachable or send the message we’d rather be left alone. We can communicate happiness, excitement, fear, loathing, pride, acceptance, ignorance and any number of other feelings just by changing our facial expressions; sometimes with small subtle movements or conversely with wild animated exaggerations.
This much you probably know already. How aware are you however of your facial expression at any one time? Most of us are pretty good at putting on the right face at the right moment. We get some bad news for example but put on a courageous face when the kids enter the room because we don’t want them to pick up that something is wrong. Or we roll our eyes when someone is boring us with a story but the second they make contact with us again we snap back to a look that communicates deep interest.
You can look at any number of faces and more often than not approximate the right mood or message that person is communicating without them saying a single word. Whether its pain, sadness, despair, anger, joy, elation, surprise, gratitude or longing, we can identify the message because facial expressions are universal.
When you’re looking for work, it is as you know a pretty frustrating experience much of the time. The stress of applying and hearing nothing at all in return or being rejected over and over can start to take over our general mood more often than we’d like. If our unemployment period is extensive, there is a very real danger that the smiling face we used to present to the world becomes replaced with furrowed brows, stress lines and more often a neutral or negative norm.
So this is what we should be aware of and fight back against; the danger of losing our generally friendly disposition and smile. After all, when job searching, we want to encourage contact with people, we need those connections to increase our odds of being viewed favourably by others as a positive addition to their workforce. The last thing we want to come across as is brooding and oppressive just by the look on our face. That kind of message received by those around us would cause many to refrain from approaching or wanting to be around us; at a time of course when we need those very people to give us tips, leads and open doors to opportunities.
It is a real testament to the strength of a person who can go about their job search and sustain a positive attitude when it’s so easy and tempting to share the setbacks and disappointments. Keeping a positive outlook, and a look on our faces as we look for work that looks out on all who see us is a big plus. After all, if you can stay positive, look enthusiastic and communicate this with your face, you should be able to convince an interviewer that you’ll bring the same attitude to the workplace and work with the same positivity when things get tough there.
Throughout your interview, you’ve got a lot to consider and thinking on your feet as questions get asked of you can be challenging for some people. Your face will communicate many different messages to the employer. You will want to communicate pleasure in answering questions about the job because you’re fired up about it. You’ll also communicate being thoughtful as you consider questions and search your memories for the best way to answer. What you want to avoid is looking perplexed, out of your league, intimidated, confused or unsure.
Of course the first impression you make on the people you meet the day of the interview is critical. A genuine smile and giving people your full attention by looking directly at them will communicate strength, assertiveness, friendly and confident. All of these are desirable impressions to make on those you meet. Whatever you do, don’t give the Receptionist a bland or negative face and then instantly turn on the charm for the person who comes out to greet you for the interview. The Receptionist may be asked for their assessment of you, or they could in fact not be the Receptionist at all, but just covering for the Receptionist until they return, and you’re facing the Interviewer all along!
If you wish, a good exercise you can do in private is to size yourself up in front of the mirror. Get dressed and stand there. Extend your hand as if you were shaking the hand of the interview and smile. In order to see the impact you’re having, you HAVE to look at yourself in the mirror and this will force you to look where you should be looking. If you’re typically shy and look down or off to the left etc. you’ll correct yourself without knowing it just to see yourself.
As an amateur actor, I have spent many a time in front of mirror looking sad, elated, crying, joyous etc. to see what I’m communicating.
Make sure the messages you send with your face are the ones you want to share!