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Don't Sit On Your Hands In Interviews

10 March 2022

I still vividly remember the first time someone advised me to NOT use my hands so much when I spoke.  I was young at the time and the comment gutted me.  I fretted for days that I had been coming across to people as silly and gushy!

Luckily, since then I have learnt a little more about the value of gestures (and spotting bad advice), but I still hear from many people the worry they overuse their hands when speaking, and that in interviews this is detrimental to them.  So there are some myths to dispel.

First, hand gestures only ever enhance and add to the meaning you are trying to convey.  In fact when you are trying to convey particularly abstract or complex concepts not moving your hands makes it more difficult for people to understand what you are saying, and it is more difficult for you to clearly explain what you mean.  Additionally, you will be more persuasive when what you communicate is accompanied by supportive hand gestures.  And researchers have found that seeing hand gestures has an alert type function in the brain, telling the auditory cortex that communication is happening that we need to attend to.

The more you gesture, in fact, more of what you have said will be remembered, and the longer you will be remembered. Gestures work by giving solidity and realness to what you are saying.  Without gestures the points you make lack conviction.  But, don't deliberately over gesture to achieve this effect as people's bullxxxx meter will pick up on this too.  Instead practice, well ahead of any need to be in an interview, how you can use gestures to give added meaning to what you are communicating so you do it naturally in interviews.

Start to experiment with how you can intentionally use your hands, your body, and your expressions to add meaning.  For example choose one communication today and bring just 10% more gesture to it to see what happens.  Or the next time someone struggles to understand you, think about ways you can add gesture to what you are saying and see if it improves the understanding (also, if someone is struggling to explain something to you, a good hack is to ask them to try to use their hand to help explain their point).  Turn gestures into a magic super power you have.

It is valuable to get better at gesturing for the positive impact it has.  Your performance improves, you speak more fluently, you make less mistakes, and your presentations will be more logical and more persuasive.  This of course has a flow on benefits. Use the magic of gestures to ensure that the value you create in the workplace is more noticed, and in selections and interviews make sure you and your points are well understood and remembered.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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