Sometimes a great dental hygiene job interview can be ruined by bad habits in your body language.
The dental hygiene job market is saturated – we all know that. That puts the employer in the driver’s seat with lots of good applicants. Since they have choices, one thing you will need is consistency.
In particular, they will focus the dental hygiene job interview on your words matching your body language. You say you are confident and personable on your resume, but do you show it?
So, let’s talk today about some bad body language habits that will create an inconsistency that can sink you.
Sitting up straight, to the edge of your seat and leaning forward slightly is the best posture for one-on-one meetings such as interviews. Most job interviews last about 30 minutes and it’s easy to start off correct but start slouching toward the middle or end.
Correct body language posture shows you are attentive, interested, passionate, and confident, among other positive attributes. Slouching, leaning back, resting your face on your hands, or sitting back in your chair are all negatives.
Poor Eye Contact
Eye contact can be hard to master because you can give too much, too little, or even be all over the board with it. There’s an art to it that you have to practice and work at to create a comfortable level.
Too much eye contact is where you go long periods of time (like 45 seconds or longer) looking straight into the employer’s eyes. This can feel really awkward or even creepy if you do it multiple times. There may be one or two instances during the interview where it’s necessary, but you want to avoid this.
Too little eye contact signals that the candidate is either really nervous or not overly confident. And it’s hard for an employer to know the difference if there is one – sometimes it’s both. Even if it’s not natural or is really hard for you, it’s important to work at giving it even if you are just looking at their forehead or nose to make it easier.
And shifty eyes, which is best described as darting around too much or too quickly is also a red flag for employers. As I was saying, there’s an art or cadence to your eye movement that is considered relaxed or normal and won’t be distracting for an employer.
Give employers good, lengthy eye contact as you are listening to them. Occasionally, shift away for a second or two to break that up. Nod your head and smile to help create breaks. Then, when talking, follow a similar pattern of lengthy eye contact, say 15-30 seconds with short breaks between.
It has been long understood by social psychologists that folded arms is body language for “closed off” or “defensive.” This is, of course, the opposite of what you want to convey. Remember that trust is what you are trying gain when applying for a job. The sooner you have an employer’s trust the more likely it is you are going to get hired.
Instead, generally keep your arms down to your side with elbows slightly bent and hands coming together but not crossed when standing. When sitting, strike a similar pose but with elbows even more bent and hands on your legs or together, changing things up slightly as the interview progresses. You shouldn’t and won’t have to hold these poses, there are opportunities to gesture as you talk, shake hands, or perform other tasks.
Nodding your head as you listen is great – it communicates that you understand and are on the same page. But you can get carried away with it and create a distraction if you are nodding too often and/or too fast.
Try to hold off nodding until you feel they are toward the end of their statement. Give the interviewer a gentle, thoughtful couple of nods that communicate that you are absorbing what they say.
Fidgeting can occur with your entire body, just your hands or even just legs or feet. We do this most often when we are nervous to help slow our heart rate – it’s sort of a mini defensive mechanism that is natural.
The most important thing is for you to be aware of body language fidgets so you can take action. Next, learn some deep breathing techniques to get that heart rate down and keep it down. Then, either work on not shifting body parts around so much or work to do it only a few times that make it appear more natural.
Inconsistent Facial Expressions
Another thing people forget to do in interviews is to smile or show emotion. Give yourself permission to vulnerable – let your passion and love for dental hygiene work show on your face. This is important because as you present your thoughts employers will look to see if your expression matches your words.
If you have no smile or sincere expression while talking about your passion for building patient relationships something will seem off. It may just be your nerves but the employer may surmise you really don’t mean it.
Body Language Summary
Again, consistency in your dental hygiene job interview isn’t just words, it’s avoiding bad body language habits that will send a mixed message. Practice and work at each one of these tips, especially the ones you know are harder for you so you can land a great dental hygiene job.
Want some additional insights? Check out Amy Cuddy’s video on body language here: