Check Your Breath Before Your Next Job Interview

By Barbara PeroneJack Russell Terrier Snarling

Okay, you’re on your way to your um-teenth job interview, you’ve got tons of résumés and business cards in your briefcase, you’re wearing the standard navy blue or black suit, shoes are nice and shiny, hair is perfectly combed, or coiffed, – but, uh, how’s your breath?

Halitosis, the scientific name for bad breath, is fairly common among people, according to WebMD, and can have many causes, such as:

  • a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, sometimes caused by slow saliva production
  • failure to brush one’s teeth or scrape one’s tongue, at least twice daily
  • improper flossing to remove food lodged in the teeth or braces
  • low carbohydrate diets that produce ketones to break down body fat
  • dehydration caused by not drinking enough water
  • alcoholic beverages
  • certain medications that cause dry mouth
  • cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or snuff
  • strong smelling drinks, like coffee, or foods, such as garlic, onions
  • problems with cavities, unhealthy gums, mouth cancers
  • digestive system problems
  • Strep throat or throat cancer
  • sinus infection and
  • liver or lung disorders

The first sign you may get that your breath might not be so hot is to observe the body language of others that surround you as you talk to them during a: job interview, networking event, job fair, or cocktail party. If you are up close when speaking to someone and notice the person doing a subtle little back step; or, if he or she actually backs up a couple of steps, it’s a sure sign that your breath smells a little bit like your German Shepherd’s.

Now, I swear I’m not making this up, but www.Animated-Teeth.com actually recommends a couple ways to test your own breath odor. One way is to lick your wrist, wait five seconds for your skin to dry, and then smell it. If it’s a little rank, there’s your answer. Another way seems a bit gross, but, here goes. Take a teaspoon, turn it upside down, place it way in the back of your mouth (try not to gag) and scrape your tongue. Take a whiff of the gunk. If there’s no aroma, you’re in the clear; if you detect a smell, grab a breath mint or gargle with some mouth wash.

If that doesn’t work, go breathe on your: spouse/significant other, kid, boyfriend/girlfriend, co-worker, or best friend and ask that person to tell you the truth about your breath. (Recently, I did this with a trusted friend of mine. First we laughed, then we each immediately popped one of those melt-away breath strips in our mouths!)

Unfortunately, in our ultra-polite society bad breath is one thing people just won’t tell you about if you have it. Oh, they will be happy to give you an opinion about why the economy is so bad, but as to your stinky breath – let’s not go there.

Obviously, a couple of ways to curb smelly breath is to brush your teeth, use a tongue scraper, gargle with mouth wash (straight), floss properly, at least twice daily, and drink at least eight full glasses of water a day. If the problem persists – and you still have dental insurance – it may be time for a trip to the dentist to make sure gum disease or cavities aren’t causing people to distance themselves from your mouth.

You can also control bad breath by: eating a few carbs, smaller regular meals, and chewing sugarless gum, particularly after meals, according to WebMD.

So, before you leave the house for that all important job interview, job fair, or networking session, gargle with mouthwash (the straight stuff, no water) and throw several packages of sugar free gum or breath mints in your attaché case, or purse, and go knock ‘em dead – with your qualifications – not your breath.

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