Using your hands to reinforce your message

When you’re in an interview, you’re likely to be a tiny bit stressed; that’s a given.  However, planning ahead in terms of what you want to say as well as how you want your body to be is a good way of reducing the stress you’re likely to feel on the day.  Being aware of your overall body language is essential, but one key part of the messages your body sends out is your hands. 

What you do with your hands in an interview, believe it or not, can often speak louder than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  It’s for this reason that we’ve put together this blog post; so read on to find out some of the major “dos and don’ts” of what to do with your hands during your aviation interview.

The first task your hand is likely to face in your aviation interview is the handshake.  If you’re in a panel interview situation, you’ll need to decide on the day whether or not it’s appropriate to shake hands with everyone present or if you shake hands only with who you deem to be the key people on the day.  Either way, walking into the room leading with your right hand in preparation for the forthcoming handshake will give you a confident and positive start to any interview.

Thereafter, the likelihood is that you’ll either be positioned on a chair in front of your interviewers or at a table alongside them.  If you’re placed on a chair slightly removed from the interview panel, it’s essential that you find a comfortable and confident position for your hands. 

It may be that you decide to lay your hands lightly on your lap or if the chair has arms, it could be that you decide to let one fall on one arm, while the other remains available for gestures.  Either way, the most important thing is that you don’t send an overly stressed message by wringing your hands or tucking them under your bottom like an errant child.  If you’re close enough to the interview table, it may be appropriate to rest a hand on the table, but you’ll only be able to ascertain that on the day. 

Here are just a few things to be aware of:

Using your hands to reinforce what you’re saying.   While waving your hands about like you’re trying to get rid of a bad smell is never appropriate in interview, your hands can be your best friend for emphasis or for explaining something complex.  You need to find your natural level of hand gesturing and consciously achieve that in interview.

Hands spread out from one another.  Hands spread out from one another suggests power and confidence.  This is because your body effectively takes up more space in the environment, which sends off the message that you’re important and worthy of listening to.

Hands palm down on a table.  If you are close enough to the interview table to appropriately place your hands on it, try to leave your hand vertical or even better palm upwards.  Palm down is often said to suggest authority and even aggression, almost as if you have slapped the table in anger; so this is worth avoiding in interview in case of misinterpretation.

Hands permanently palm up on a table.  All of that said about palms down, you need to be careful about hands fixed permanently upwards too.  This action can suggest uncertainty and lack of confidence, so again is worth avoiding as a permanent fixed hand gesture in any interview.

So what can we conclude from this?  It’s safe to conclude that while everyone will differ in terms of what hand gestures they’re comfortable to use, the key to success is being aware of what kind of gesturer you are and making a conscious effort to live up to the natural and real you during your aviation interview.  While this isn’t necessarily an easy task it’s definitely something that’s worth thinking about before it’s too late.

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