The perfect handshake: how-do-you-do it?

The handshake is an invaluable weapon in a job applicant’s armoury. Just Recruitment’s Julie Sheridan tells Sarah Patten why

When you’re attending a job interview, first impressions are crucial. Your attire, your body language and the way you greet your interviewer all send a message about who you are. 

As insignificant as it may seem, your handshake is pivotal to the impression you make. In fact, for many employers, it can be a decisive hiring factor. 

But what makes the perfect handshake? Just Recruitment’s Julie shares her wisdom on this most important of customs.

Make eye contact

“Before you offer your hand, be sure to look your interviewer in the eye,” advises Ms Sheridan. “It demonstrates confidence and self-assuredness, and gives the impression that you’re genuinely pleased to meet them.”

As Ms Sheridan explains, though, the timing of the eye contact is crucial. “Don’t hold your interviewer’s gaze for more than two to three seconds,” she says. “This can be unnerving, and make them feel uncomfortable.”

Choose aridity over humidity

A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. Anxiety can lead to sweaty palms… and sweaty palms are a big no-no when it comes to handshake etiquette.  

“No-one enjoys a slippery handshake,” says Ms Sheridan. “If your hand feels moist, give it a subtle wipe just before greeting your interviewer. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.”

Choose your angle

Offer your hand on the vertical, with the palm facing inwards. This sends a vital signal about the nature of your interaction.

“A downward-facing palm demonstrates dominance, even arrogance, whereas an upward-facing palm suggests submissiveness, opines Ms Sheridan. “An inward-facing palm, on the other hand, implies equality between the hand shaker and the hand shakee. In an interview context, this is crucial.”

Be firm

We’ve all experienced a limp handshake and – let’s face it – it’s never a pleasant experience. What’s more, it sends all the wrong signals to the unlucky recipient.

“A limp handshake gives an impression of weakness, and a lack of confidence. It casts doubt over the substance of the hand shaker’s character,” says Ms Sheridan.

Much better, then, for your handshake to be firm. But even here, Julie advises caution: “Avoid squeezing your interviewer’s hand too hard. At best this can be uncomfortable, and at worst, downright painful. You want to leave an impression, but it’s best to draw the line at physical injury.”

Don’t overdo it

A prolonged handshake can cause embarrassment on both sides, and prove a distraction to the hand shakee. “Aim for two to three shakes,’ advises Julie, “and try not to make them too vigorous.”

A brief up-and-down movement is all that’s required: anything more will seem over the top, and may cause your interviewer to doubt your sincerity.

And remember, a handshake isn’t just about first impressions. Apply these rules when you bid your interviewer farewell, and you’ll round off your interview in perfect style. 

 

 © 2017 Just Recruitment Group Ltd. 

Posted on Thursday Jan 19