Going to a job interview can be pretty stressful, you’re trying to sell an employer on the fact that you are capable of doing a stellar job and would be a better choice than the other candidates who may have similar experience and qualifications. You have already gotten your foot in the door with that updated CV and great references, but as you probably know there’s more to making that first impression than what’s written on your resume. You’ve likely chosen your interview-day outfit carefully, because you know that looking your best is important, but have you thought about your smile? Closing the interview with a strong handshake, direct eye contact, and a winning smile can be the difference between hearing, “You start on Monday,” and “We decided to go in another direction.”
What Your Smile Tells an Employer
Think it’s all just in peoples’ imagination? Nope! In fact, the impact is so great that numerous scientific studies have been conducted showing the links between dental hygiene and employment. The British Dental Journal published a summary of a report covering this issue. The evidence from this report is pretty clear – the way your teeth look has an impact on the way people perceive you. More specifically, the summary stated, “The study found that participants gave the faces with discoloured teeth poorer ratings for social competence (how popular, friendly or trustworthy they appeared), intellectual ability, relationship status and psychological adjustment (how introverted, happy or self-confident they appeared). Whiter teeth also received more positive appraisals, suggesting that tooth colour does have an influence on social perceptions.”
Did you catch that? When participants were given pictures of people with discolored teeth they actually rated that person as having lower intellectual ability. If you smile at an employer with discolored teeth, they might subconsciously assume you’re less intelligent than your competition.
It’s About Perception
NBC News also covered the problems having bad teeth can cause for job seekers, “In America, most people – including employers – make instant judgments based on appearance, including someone’s smile and teeth…Those views can prevent potential employers from recognizing potential assets, said Lindsey Robinson, a dentist and current president of the California Dental Association.” A bad smile can distract employers from seeing your true potential. But why?
Historically, society has a deeply rooted belief that bad teeth can indicate other bad qualities in a person. In a National institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research report they stated, “The link between diseased teeth and weakness, impotence, and even moral turpitude and sin has been analyzed by scholars exploring the vast legacy of dental themes in art and literature.” While physical appearance is a big factor, there is a deeper underlying issue here. Teeth have historically been viewed as an indicator of overall health. There are numerous diseases and illnesses that can present themselves by impacting the teeth and gums. That means that having bad teeth can cause people to think that you are sick in other ways as well.
Nice Teeth Can Be the Key to Success
In yet another study, this one was conducted by Kelton for Invisalign, the researchers came to the same conclusion, “When looking at images, Americans perceive those with straight teeth to be 45% more likely than those with crooked teeth to get a job when competing with someone who has a similar skill set and experience. They are also seen as 58% more likely to be successful, as well as 58% more likely to be wealthy.” This strong correlation between crooked teeth and lack of success means that when you smile an employer might judge how well you’ll do in the role based on your teeth. They might not be doing this consciously, but these studies make it pretty clear that many people subconsciously link a good set of teeth to successful employees.
Another big issue with having bad teeth is that sometimes people try to hide them. We’ve all met someone who tends not to smile. Sometimes they are just reserved, but in some cases they are simply trying to cover up bad teeth. Employers can misinterpret this behavior and assume they are not friendly or personable. This can be extremely damaging to a person’s employability. It becomes even more problematic if you are looking for a job where you are working directly with the public or interacting with others a great deal. These positions won’t work out if you aren’t comfortable speaking up or smiling because your teeth make you self-conscious.
Your Smile Says a lot about You
All of these factors combine to mean one thing: your smile says a lot about you whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, what it says might not reflect you’re many great attributes or impressive skill set, and having poor dental hygiene will eventually catch up with you when it comes to employment. If you have healthy teeth, it will keep people focused on your qualifications and the work you do, instead of allowing them room to give in to their underlying or subconscious perceptions about what your bad teeth might mean.