Ah, the handshake. A simple social grace toward which thousands of articles and seminars have devoted countless efforts deconstructing, analyzing, and perfecting. And yet, the notion of the “ideal” greeting seems to vary across the board. Some advocate a tight grip, a slight squeeze of the elbow, a flick of the wrist…alas, you may feel as though you are mastering sleight of hand in the end. Bear in mind, however, that all tricky, crafted handshakes aim only to appear simple, personable, and to the point.
So it is with this in mind that we distill for you a few basic tips to ensure you will confront your interviewer with a winning handshake to match your winning self.
1. Make a Strong First Impression
A handshake is part of a first impression. You get one shot. No do over’s on this one – if you creepily go in for the other guy’s hand again, you may inspire alarm. The handshake is a chance for you to connect with someone the moment of your very first encounter. Use this to your advantage. A handshake can at once be warm and friendly, which sets a great tone for the rest of your meeting.
2. Find a Happy Medium
What if someone asked you to stick your hand in a vice? Would you do it? Unless you’re being surly, the answer is likely “No”. So please, avoid extending the death grip toward your unsuspecting interviewer. A handshake shouldn’t be a show of bravado. Likewise, don’t be a wet noodle. Weak, floaty handshakes are awkward, and leave the person on the other end of them hesitant to make the next move for fear that they might break you. A good handshake is one that is firm without causing pain. Relaxed and snug. You get the idea.
3. Don’t Sweat It
Offering up a clammy hand may ruin an otherwise masterful handshake. A handshake should be over when it ends, not stick around with your sweat. Make sure your hand is clean and dry when you are introducing yourself to someone. If you tend to perspire when you’re nervous, keep a tissue or a handkerchief in your pocket.
4. Calm with the Palm
A solid handshake should last for about two to three shakes. After that, it can feel like manhandling. Don’t let your companion imagine that they’re holding onto an old school generator.
5. Eye Contact
Another simple rule: eyes meet with the eyes, and hand meets with the hand. Looking a person in the eye exudes confidence and is much more respectful. Avoid looking down at the other person’s hand while you go in for the shake – it comes off as insecure. This may seem like a tricky dance, but if you practice with a friend, you’ll have the steps and coordination down in no time.
6. Say Hello
There’s nothing worse than dead silence when you go in for a handshake. A handshake is a greeting, so greet the person with a friendly, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.” Top off the routine by showing off your pearly whites.
7. Show Initiative
When you walk up to meet with an interviewer, extend your hand first. This shows that you are poised and ready to take action. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make the overture, but never show hesitation when shaking hands. The gesture should be friendly and comfortable.
8. Seal the Deal
You walked in, made eye contact, smiled, said “Hello”, and executed an all-around wicked handshake. Now you get to do it all over again! (And you thought it was all over…) When you excuse yourself from another’s company, make sure to shake hands one more time. The great thing about handshakes is that they’re so versatile. Perfect for many a situation, and just as appropriate for a farewell as a greeting. A departing handshake reaffirms the kinship that you established with the other person, and serves as a final signing off.
And, once your hand is free from the clutches of another, don’t forget to wave goodbye!