The Handshake

Considering the handshake is an expected gesture that’s typically combined with the first words you say, it can leave a lasting first impression and set a comfortable tone for the interview. Think about it. Haven’t you formed an opinion of someone in the past from a simple handshake? Especially those “macho” handshakes that feel like your hands in a vice?  Or, how about that weak, “limp fishy” handshake – doesn’t exactly exude sense of strong/confident.

So, how do you get a great handshake? Simple – practice with friends/relatives until you feel comfortable and try using this approach:

• Start the handshake by  extending your right hand as you walk toward the interviewer offering to shake hands – let him or her make the initial hand connection and then, look into his/her eyes and simply say “Hello Mr./Ms. Jones, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

• While your hands are connected there will more than likely be a slight pumping motion up and down (that’s the “shake” part in handshake). Don’t be overly aggressive. Just grasp the interviewer’s hand firmly and pump a few times up and down trying to follow his or her lead – then release your grip.

• If you tend to have sweaty palms, carry a handkerchief to wipe them.

• Make sure your hands are clean and manicured.

• How much pressure should you apply in gripping the other person’s hand?  I recommend firm, but not too tight. 

• Can someone reject a handshake? Yes, there may be an occasion where the interviewer has a cold, in which case, it’s perfectly acceptable for him or her not to accept a handshake. If this happens, more than likely, the interviewer will politely explain the reason. By the same token, if you have a cold, don’t offer a handshake and explain politely that you have a cold.

Although the handshake is important, don’t “over think” it and don’t dwell on it if it doesn’t seem to be what you expected – it happens in seconds and you’ll improve with each interview.

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