Job Interview Tips Watercooler

What Does Your Handshake Say About You?

Written by Peter Jones

We all think we have a killer handshake. And we’ve all shaken a few hands that left us feeling… less than impressed. Find out if any of these subpar shakes apply to you.

The Cold Fish

The worst handshake is the limp handshake. It makes everybody squeamish. If you’re not squeezing or shaking, but merely laying your hand (or worse, just your fingers!) into someone else’s, then it might be time for remedial work.

The Wet Fish

Regardless of the limpness factor, if your hand is sweaty or clammy, you don’t stand a chance of making a good first impression. Clamminess implies that you are nervous—or worse, ill—or just generally moist. If sweating is a problem for you, try using a bit of talc after you wash your hands to keep them dry.

The Princess

You know who you are. You lay your fingers daintily into someone else’s waiting grip, but nothing further. Unless you’re actually royalty, this is sending all the wrong signals. Man up and shake hands!

The Knuckle Crusher

You also know who you are. You enjoy watching people flinch as you shock and awe them with your grip and grasp. If you’re not aware of your own strength, ask yourself: does your handshake make people’s eyes water? Can you feel their rings crushing their fingers? If so, go a little gentler.

The Creeper

Industry standard is grab, shake three times, release. If you’re lingering any longer than the time it takes to pump your interviewer’s hand a couple of times, then you’re lingering too long. Save the tender contact for the dinner table with your sweetheart and get back to business.

The Two-Hander

This is for family on occasions such as funerals and weddings and reunions. Or for your Great Aunt Rita. Or for politicians and priests. It’s not for you. And certainly not for the office. Stick to the basics!

We make our first impression in just over five minutes; that’s not a lot of time. Don’t spoil it with a bad handshake.

Instead, follow the golden rule: warm, friendly, confident, and dry. Make sure to touch the web of your hand (between your thumb and index finger) to theirs, grip comfortably and firmly (not too firmly!), shake three times (but not religiously!), let go, and smile your surest smile.

About the author

Peter Jones