“After I graduated I started working for a startup software company. Even though they were only a few years old, this company made bank. They pulled in at least 3 million a year and only had 15 employees, all of them overpaid (except for me, of course).
One day while I was working I looked at my fingers and saw that there was ink all over them. Apparently my pen was leaking from the side. I got up and went to the bathroom to wash my hands. Two of my supervisors were using the bathroom while I was scrubbing the ink off. They were talking about work while they were going. That’s gross. Never talk to someone while they’re going to the bathroom.
Anyway, the ink wouldn’t come out easily. I had to scrub and scrub only to watch the ink slowly fade. While I was washing, my bosses finished up both their conversation and their “business,” walked out of the stalls, nodded at me and made a joke about the ink, then walked out of the bathroom.
They didn’t wash their hands.
Two grown men making over six figures did not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. I shook their hands during my interview. Next time I’m going to bring Purel.”
What Your Handshake Says About You
Stories like the one above aside, a good handshake is a necessary part of any job interview. According to researchers at the University of Iowa, a firm handshake can define how the rest of the interview goes, and may make a more powerful impression than how you are dressed or what you look like.
According to the research, if your handshake is weak or awkward, employers will start off with a negative impression of your candidacy. If your handshake is firm and confident, employers are more prone to finding you an ideal fit.
From the University of Iowa press release:
Stewart said the researchers found that those students who scored high with the handshake raters were also considered to be the most hirable by the interviewers.
Why is the handshake important? Stewart suspects it’s because a handshake is one of the few things that provides a glimpse into the person’s individuality during the first few minutes of an interview.
In other words, while people spend hours and hours on interview preparation, few people remember that the handshake is an important part of the interview, and thus provide a weak handshake that indicates possible weaknesses in your character.
What Should You Do?
When you meet someone for the first time, take the initiative to hold out your hand and give them a handshake. Use a firm grip and shake their hand with some decent up and down action. Also, as you are shaking their hand, look them in the eye, smile, and don’t focus on the handshake itself. Rather, focus on introducing yourself to the interviewer.
Handshakes may not seem important, but they are part of the non-verbal communication that you display to your interviewer, and research confirms that a strong handshake is an indicator of a successful interview. Shake hands with confidence and don’t be afraid to squeeze a little. As for the graduate’s story above:
“Every day I had to wipe down the handle before opening it with a paper towel. Finally I decided to stick a sign on the door with an arrow pointing to the handle that said ‘Are you touching this? If you didn’t wash your hands, chances are other people didn’t either. The sink is right behind you.’ I’m not sure if it changed anything but the sign stayed up for the next 3 months before a maintenance worker took it down for cleaning.
The corporate world can be a gross place.”
Take Away Interview Tips
- Actively shake the hands of those you meet.
- Always maintain eye contact and supply a firm grip.
- Article in the Huffington Post