Handy hints: five handshakes to avoid at interviews

The way you greet your interviewer says a lot about you. Here’s how to deliver the perfect shake.
Try to find the right balance of force and grace to come across in the best light.

Back in the caveman days, you’d greet one another with outstretched arms and open palms to show you were free of weapons. Romans, because they were sneaky and liked to hide daggers in the arms of their robes, would grab each other’s sleeves when they met, partly as a greeting and partly to suss out the other’s intentions. Now, handshakes are a common way of greeting one another. Your handshake says a lot about you so you want to make sure that yours is sending the right messages. You might think a handshake is straightforward – you clasp, shake, release – what could possibly go wrong? Well, here are five types of common handshake you might want to avoid in an interview:

The clammy clasp

Having clammy hands is common and, unfortunately, unavoidable. But nobody wants to shake hands with a sweaty Betty. Before you go in for the handshake, subtly wipe your palm on your clothes to dry them a bit. Also, washing your hands frequently and using talcum powder can help with excess moisture. A clammy palm says you are nervous which isn’t the message you want to be giving.

The half-hearted hold

Handshakes need to be firm to say that you mean business and aren’t here to mess around. Having a limp, floppy shake doesn’t say this. Research by Professor Shipps and Freeman of Ohio Wesleyan University found that a weak grasp conveyed “guilt, fatigue and regression”. In other words, it implies you are non-committal and weak. So make sure that you grip their hand when you shake it, don’t just place it into theirs.

The gripping grasp

On the other hand, you don’t want to bulldoze into their palm and crush them – this goes too far the other way. Research by businessballs.com found a firm handshake could convey “deceit or a weak bullying nature”, implying you are aggressive and hard to work with. Professor Irving-McGrath of Dublin Business School found that a tight handshake positively correlated with “extraversion, physical aggression and strength”. Try to find the right balance of force and grace to come across in the best light.

The reluctant release

Handshakes aren’t just about pressure – duration is important too. A handshake that goes on for too long can become uncomfortable and make the other person feel awkward. When you shake their hand, grip it and shake three times before letting go. Any more and you risk being labelled as a “lingerer” – not a good business message.

The brief bump

Pulling away too quickly can cause offense to the other person. Don’t seem in a hurry – you want them to know you’ve got time for them and are enjoying your chat. Just pinching their fingers or touching their palm with yours is an inadequate handshake and could make you seem rude.

So, how should you shake hands? This is how the perfect handshake is done:

• With dry, soft palms

• With a firm, but not too crushing, grip

• With your hand approaching from the side, not above as this seems too dominating

• For three shakes

• With eye contact and a smile

• With appropriate follow-up conversation

Source: www.the guardian.com  Author: Anna Pitts

Anna Pitts is a marketing assistant and online researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

Image: www.123rf.com

Interviewing, Job Search