Smiling in a job application or interview could help you secure the position, according to new research.
A study has found that people who look visibly happy are deemed to be more hireable than those with a more sombre expression, be it a frown or serious demeanour.
A smile exudes confidence and willingness in applicants, the study authors said, as well as making a person seem more attractive.
Attractiveness is well known to be a beneficial factor in getting others to warm to an individual with so-called “pretty girl privilege” repeatedly found by previous studies to be a real thing.
In virtual tests on 280 people conducted online, participants viewed fake LinkedIn profiles and analysis found that those who were smiling or happy were deemed to be more hireable.
A second experiment saw a similar test conducted on 146 participants who were subjected to mouse-tracking to get a more detailed insight into their thought processes.
Participants were asked to grade each fake profile on a scale of one to seven, with seven being extremely likely to employ them and one deeply unlikely.
Smiling candidates scored an average of 5.11 while non-smilers averaged 4.99.
‘Smiling is more favourable’
“We changed [the second study] to a yes-no question and asked whether they would shortlist that person for a final interview,” the scientists write in their poster, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Conference in Washington DC.
“Both studies found that smiling is more favourable than neutral expressions – this effect is especially when time is limited.”
Sabrina Chan, from the University of Toronto and study leader, said: “We found that, in general, smiling participants are more hireable – they got a higher score compared to non-smiling participants.
“I think smiling people perform better because you’re showing goodwill, showing confidence and it makes you generally more attractive.
“First impressions are very important and research shows people have stronger memories for happy faces.”
‘A fake smile could help’
Past research has had mixed results, with some finding that a serious expression can make you look more professional and boost hiring chances.
Chan added: “I’d say there are a lot of things attached to this – it probably depends on how long you smile, the timing of it and the intensity.
“Also think about the job and whether it is appropriate. A fake smile could help as well – as long as you don’t overdo it.”
She added that people with mental health conditions may be disadvantaged by this inherent preference for smiling and positive facial expressions.
“I do feel like people with mental health issues are at a disadvantaged position, especially those who do not feel up to showing their emotions,” Chan said.
“We can’t say it is a fake smile, but it is more of a polite smile and if they just don’t feel like doing it then it does put them in a disadvantaged position and also people who may not be very good at emotional expressions or regulation.”