What to Do With Your Hands at the Job Interview

MAY 26, 2010 | BY MICAH

Body language can say more about who you are than your answers to job interview questions. Your posture, your legs, your eyes – all of these have the potential to affect your interview, even if the answers you provide are perfect for the job.

Many of these behaviors are easy to control:

  • Keep your back straight and hold good posture.
  • Make eye contact throughout the interview.
  • Don’t shake your legs or open them awkwardly.

Most of these are fairly self-explanatory. With practice, most of these can be kept under control. One of the aspects of body language that people have a problem controlling is their hands.

What Should You Do With Your Hands?

Before we discuss what you should do with your hands during the job interview, it is important to give examples of some of the things you should not do with your hands:

  • Do not sit your hands underneath your legs or rear.
  • Do not cross your arms.
  • Do not fiddle with anything.
  • Do not keep your hands in your pockets.
  • Do not touch your face often.

Your hands should be motionless through most of the interview. Some recruiters believe you should refrain from all hand gestures. Other recruiters believe that it is okay to make hand gestures as long as your interviewer is the type of person that speaks with their hands. Regardless, in general your arms should not be very active, crossed, touching your face, under your body, or fiddling with anything.

What to Do

One option is to keep your hands on your lap throughout the interview. This can be difficult however, and tends to cause the applicant to lean forward or wipe sweat on their pants. It is certainly not a comfortable position.

Perhaps a better option is to keep your hands on the table in front of you. There are two ways to do this effectively.

  • One option is to keep the fingers of one hand on the edge of the table and your other hand sitting on top of it. This keeps your hands immobile but allows you to put them on the desk in a non-defensive position.
  • Another option is to rest your forearms on the table and gently clasp your fingers together in the middle. Some recruiters find this to be a slightly aggressive position, but it appears to be harmless and will feel more natural than the other method.

It may seem silly that hands can play this much of a role in your employment chances, but there is simply no denying that it does have a strong effect on your ability to find employment. Try to do one of the above two tips with your hands in order to reduce the chances of making a poor body language impression.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Keep your hands on the table.
  • Clasp your hands gently together.
  • Copy your interviewer’s gestures.

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