The perfect handshake is like poker. It takes a minute to learn, years to master and can lose you a lot of money if you’re terrible at it. In a job interview scenario, a strong handshake goes a long way in forging an impression with your potential employer.
It’s a ritual that began way back in Roman times to show that you’re not carrying a weapon (something we encourage as common interview practice). Nowadays it’s considered the most widely accepted form of respect and etiquette in the entire globe. Few things are as effective at showing openness and friendliness as a great handshake.
However, unless you sought out and attended a course on handshaking method, it’s rare to know consciously how to perfect the business handshake. Here are four crucial things to remember when reaching out for a handshake.
1. Rise if seated
Take Stevie Wonder’s advice and move to higher ground. If you remain seated while being introduced, it makes an awkward impression. According to etiquette law, the only time you shouldn’t rise to meet a handshake is if you’re eating – which you probably shouldn’t be 30 seconds prior to an interview.
2. Disable defences with a smile
A brief and subtle smile goes a long way to make a statement about your character. A wide grin will put your interviewer at unease whereas a stern look might set the tone as too impersonal. Use your smile to diffuse any tension and open the door for friendly small-talk and jokes.
3. Fully outstretch your arm
A common mistake people make is hovering their hand just away from their torso making the handshake too close-quarters. On the approach, you should fully stretch your right arm across the right side of your body. If your interviewer is doing the same thing, your hands will meet like stars aligning.
4. Lock thumbs if you’re worried about positioning
The loose handshake can be considered a game over. Don’t over-think it but what you should aim to do is make palm-to-palm contact before anything else. From there, lock thumbs with your interviewer and match their firm grip. Keep your hand relaxed and chin up. Cultivate your handshake to match your strong character!