There is a great deal of advice by all sorts of career experts out there telling you what you need to do during an interview – how to answer questions, how to ask questions, how to dress, how to act, how to prepare.
And there are many articles out there on body language, the importance of which many are now realizing. And there is one aspect of body language that is receiving more attention as well because it is so important – what to do with your hands during an interview.
For some people, this may not be a problem. They naturally know what to do with their hands and do not feel self-conscious about what they do with them. But for many, it is a problem. You are just not sure where to put them – in your lap, at your side, poised to make a gesture. And then you wonder how much to move them, or to move them at all.
Well, for all of those who are hand handicapped, here is some advice.
First of all, during an interview, you should hold your hands with the palms up. This gesture shows an attitude of openness, confidence, assertiveness, and enthusiasm, as well as truthfulness and honesty. Holding them with the palms down, on the other hand, shows just the opposite – insecurity, defensiveness, aloofness. It looks like you are trying to hide something.
And you definitely don’t want to hide your hands in any way. So, don’t bury them in your lap or put them in your pockets. You also want to avoid fidgeting with your fingers or tapping them.
Another positive gesture that you can use is making a steeple shape with your fingers. This gives an image of seriousness, wisdom, gravitas, and confidence. It is a gesture business leaders and politicians do all of the time. You don’t want to do it constantly, but occasionally you can make it as you answer a question.
The other big concern among job candidates is how much they should move their hands. The answer is that you should certainly move them to gesture as you talk. Just don’t overdo it. You don’t want to look like you are Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with your hands flying all over the place.