How to succeed at an interview – hands down

This month, leading coach and interview expert Richard Dening focuses on how to banish habitual behaviour, for example, ‘hand waving’, and raise your chances of success at an interview.

Do people say you have an irritating habit which will distract an interviewer? Perhaps waving your hands about? You’ve done your best to keep these irritating body parts under control, but they just won’t do as they are told. And behind it all, you sense that you’ll lose something if they do.

You’re right, because you’ll probably show a general lack of enthusiasm. Your hands wanted to bring their liveliness into the room, but you killed it off. It is as though the whole body hates a negative and has now gone into a major sulk.

The paradoxical answer is to practise this (bad) habit. Get to know it better. Your hands want to be noticed. So devote ten minutes to them and what they want to do. Imagine you’re in an interview and let the urge in your hands dictate things. Play a bit and exaggerate the movements they want to make. Respect the tendency of your hands to want a life of their own.

Habitual behaviour is hard wired into your nervous system and will be operating on automatic. You’ll only regain control and get rid of the automatic nature of your actions, by learning to do them consciously. Then you can choose when to allow your hands to express your enthusiasm and when not. You’ll probably discover other ways to express it too.

Richard Dening has been helping people to be more effective and confident in job interviews since 1989. He is widely regarded as an ‘interview guru’. For more information on his coaching work visit The Centre for Leadership Research or email