The All-Important Handshake

Wed, Apr 25, 2012

Interview Skills

At the beginning and the end of an interview, you may have to shake hands with the other person.  This can become a dramatic conversation in your head – do I shake hard?  Did I shake too hard?  What happens if they try to crush my fingers?

The handshake can seem more like a battle of wills than a cordial way to connect with another person.

Now, while there’s little you can do about sweaty palms (aside from dousing yourself with antiperspirant), there are some ways to ensure your shake isn’t turning anyone off.

  • Practice – Get a friend to help you learn how to shake a hand with firmness, but not aggression.
  • Line up your fingers with their wrist – When you line up your fingers with the wrist of the other person, you’ll be in a less tense alignment.
  • Look the other person in the eye – Instead of focusing on your hand, look the other person in the eye as you shake their hand.
  • Keep it short – You don’t have to shake hands forever, so keep it to a few pumps of the hand and let go.

If you find yourself in a shake that seems to go on forever, you may want to wait until the other side is done.  They might be seeing if you’re someone who will back off in a strange situation, so consider it a test.

Or you might just consider it a moment where the other person is trying to show you they’re in control.  And really, do you want to work for someone who does that?

The handshake may not be the determining factor of your job interview (hopefully), but it is still something to practice.  You practice your interview questions, so add a few handshakes to this time as well.

It can’t hurt.

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