Job Interview Tips Professional Development

What to Do With Your Hands During a Job Interview

Written by Peter Jones

There are ways to appear (and feel) more confident using body language. But not much attention is paid to what we’re supposed to be doing with our hands. Here are some subtle secrets about what to do with your hands during a job interview.

Use Them to Show Confidence

Rather than crossing your arms across your chest—a gesture of insecurity or defensiveness, try folding your hands, one on top of the other, or simply resting them on the arm of your chair. You’ll appear more open, more in control, and more confident. And remember: open fingers are always better than curled fists.

Try to Remain Calm

Fidgeting is bad. Moving around excessively trying to get comfortable will just prove to your interviewer that you aren’t—and it’s probably not the chair’s fault. On the other hand, not moving at all can make you look rigid or unnatural. Think of it like blinking and come up with a balance of natural movement. You’ll come off like a normal human being, which is good—especially when you’re nervous.

Use Them to Communicate

If your palms are open and facing up, this conveys a certain honesty, or willingness. You’re listening, inviting trust. Downward facing palms can convey dominance and firmness, which are much better for salary negotiations than interviews. Also remember to keep your shoulders relaxed. If they’re all the way up at your ears with anxiety, your interviewer will take notice.

Beware of Cultural Differences

All of this applies mostly to the Western business world. Don’t forget that different body signals can convey totally different things around the globe. Make sure to do a bit of research to rejigger your expectations before an interview. Be sensitive. A thumbs-up in America is great, but do it in an Asian country and you’ll probably offend someone without realizing what you’ve done.

Practice Gesture Control

You may talk with your hands, but you should try and restrict this behavior in the interview. Keep it to a minimum and focus instead on wielding your words with care and concision, lest you distract your interviewer with your arms flapping around. No matter how hilarious you know you are.

About the author

Peter Jones