A kiss on the hand, a fist bump, a salute, a curtsey, THE handshake. The handshake is thought to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the individuals involved were free of weapons. In today's world, we don't exactly shake hands to check for concealed artilleries, but we are making some kind of nonverbal agreement. It's a chance to prove your confidence, honesty, and drive– proof that you have nothing to hide.
Why It's Important
The second you walk through the door for your interview, you are being interviewed. Are you wearing a suit? What is your body language? Are you doing everything you can to make yourself stand out from the pack, before you even open your mouth? The handshake is imperative because following your outward appearance, your handshake is the first impression you make. Your handshake sets the tone for the next sixty (or so) minutes.
In a recent study of 98 college students, researchers found that "students with high scoring handshakes were the same ones the interviewers viewed most hireable" (careerbuilder.com).
There are common assumptions people make when they receive a firm handshake– confidence, self-assurance, interest, focus, and drive. On the other side of the spectrum, a weak handshake can bring negative perceptions– insecurity, intimidation, distraction, hesitancy, and disinterest.
Just think, no one is ever going to think poorly of you for a firm handshake, but you are taking a risk with a weak one.
How It Should Be Done
The first thing to remember about a handshake isn't related
to your hand at all, but rather, your eyes. Make eye contact with the person you are about to join hands with. Hold your eyes steady and introduct yourself, "Hello, I'm Cristin Skjegstad. It's so nice to meet you!" Concurrently, you should be reaching out to grasp their hand. From the wise words of Julie Laufer, "Pretend like you are pulling someone out of a ditch. That's how firm your grip should be." Your hand won't feel like a limp fish, but you're not injuring their hand either.
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Whether you practice with your sister, father, best friend, boyfriend, wife, or one of us here at Laufer, working on your handshake can only make it better. Before you know it, you won't even think twice about your handshake. You'll be a natural in no time!