Hand Gestures for Career Growth - The Right Gestures for Job Interviews

Did you know right hand gestures and body language communicate more while you talk? How you act with your body in a graduate job interview is very important; read my story to know about how I practiced hand gesture techniques to ace interviews.

“Too many hand gestures is so not cool”, said one of my clients!

If you know me well, you would know that I am not that great a communicator… I am an introvert and I have more than needed ‘nervous’ cells in my blood stream. Well, so I end up using a lot of hand gestures while talking, to avoid getting anxious.

While it’s ok to do with your friends, it’s definitely uncool in job interviews, especially if it’s your first interview.

How I Learned the Effective Use of Hand Gestures

The first time I had a job interview with a corporate CEO I was so edgy that I tapped on the table continuously while he went through my presentation. When he asked me technical questions I answered with my arms crossed on my chest to stop my sweaty palms from shivering.

For the first 20 minutes he just frowned at me (literally)… and then the frown increased with my tapping foot.

By the end of the first hour, he pushed the presentation file towards me and said, “Sanyukta, you need to improve… I don’t see the clarity and right attitude for the job.

“But where did my presentation go wrong?” I exclaimed

He answered back, “your skills and strategies for the job  are great, but we are in a media industry where face to face communication and interpersonal skills are valued more than anything else. Do you understand what I mean? Come back in a week for a review.”

I obviously “didn’t understand what he meant”!!

But later one of his employees, who is also my dear friend, called up and told me the truth. He said that my hand gestures were off-putting and were totally uncool. They proved my nervousness and arrogance at the same time, and also projected that my presentation had glitches (though there weren’t any).

Practicing Hand Gestures is No Rocket Science; You Need Self Awareness and Conscious Effort

I can’t say I aced in gesture talking in the first go, but it did take some time. First what I did was research on the meaning and types of hand gestures. I have summarised few here;

How Hands Talk….

1.  Hands Hidden Under: If your client or interviewer cannot see your hands, it’s a psychological reaction for not trusting you. Hidden hands equals to not-trustworthy.

2.  Using No Hand Gestures At All: Hand gestures (the right ones) lightens the mood, so if you don’t use it all you may be perceived as reserved, close minded, indifferent or create a ‘don’t care attitude’ about what you talk.

3.  Fingers Tapping On the Table: Either you are too nervous or you are too careless or arrogant. It’s quite annoying, mind you. Both cause distraction to audience. (My dad has this habit of knocking the desk hard while calling his employees. One of them complained to me saying, “what, am I a dog or what?”

4.  Hands Open With Palms Facing Down – You’re quite sure about what your topic or subject at hand.

5.  Hands Open with Palms at 45° angle (like you’re holding a big bowl, fingers spread) –You’re honest and open, and your ideas are clear and transparent. It also communicates your broadmindedness.

6.  Hands Open with Palms Facing Each Other (like you are about to pray or clap, fingers closed) – You are an expert on the spoken subject or topic.People will definitely give you an ear.

7.  Hands Folded or Clutched Tightly. Hands touching Your Face or Neck– You are nervous and sweaty. You aren’t sure about the subject. You are not confident. You are lost. You have done something wrong.

8.  Rubbing Palms Together -  You are positive. It means you expect the results to benefit to your client. (Sales executives are taught to rub palms together when describing products and services)

9.  Hands Clenched Together under the Chin or in a Lower Position – Reveals frustration, anxiety, loss, or negative attitude or a difficult person to deal with (even if you are smiling).

10.  Arms Crossed – Causing a barrier to communicate. Not open for criticism or healthy communication.

11.  The Steeple – Although it’s not a hand gesture while talking but it does have great impact on people. The steeple is usually used by superiors to subordinates.  People, who use this gesture when listening or watching something, come out as a very strong and superior person.

However, steeple shouldn’t be used when you are convincing or trying to win someone’s confidence, especially in job interviews, as it also alludes smugness or arrogance.

So, the Next Time You Sit for an Interview ….

This was my research, and trust me I had major improvements in my next interview session. I understood that involuntary hand gestures in interviews and meetings are okay… but overdoing hand gestures to emphasise a point can make or break your relationship with your employer.

Few Do’s and Don’ts That I Followed 


-  Use your open palm gestures (points 4, 5 and 6). You can easily demonstrate your skills or present a speech in positive way by doing so.

-  Steeple your fingers (not under your chin, but place your hands on the desk) to demonstrate active listening and confidence.


-  Don’t hide your hands at all – under the desk, behind your back or anywhere else.

-  Don’t lay your palms flat on the table. It projects you are taking control of the situation, not a good sign in skill presentations and interviews.

-  Don’t throw your hands everywhere while talking.

-  Don’t tap your fingers on the table (don’t tap your feet too)

-  Avoid crossing or folding your hands when trying to empathise

Author Corpzpro Blogger