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You never get a second chance at achieving the best first impression. The handshake is one of the most important aspects of a good first impression. It’s been used for many years in the business world as a professional greeting, so getting it wrong can be detrimental to your first impression.

Keep your Right Hand Free

It’s a little awkward when a hiring manager goes out for the handshake and you have to juggle what’s in your hands to accept it. It’s also awkward for the hiring manager when they see this happen. Make sure that you always have your right hand free from the time you enter the building for the interview to avoid this awkward interaction.

Reach out First

Show initiative and assertiveness in your handshake by reaching out first. It shows confidence and sets a confident tone for the rest of the interview. Always stand facing the person directly in front of them and offer your hand completely sideways. Never shake someone’s hand with your palm facing up because it’s a sign of a submissive attitude and never face your palm down because it’s a sign of a superior attitude.

Make {Appropriate} Eye Contact

Make professional eye contact with the person you shake hands with. It’s awkward when someone looks away or even when someone is staring into the other person’s eyes. Also, don’t look down. This is an immediate sign for lack of confidence. Stay professional and relaxed. Also, remember to smile.

Firm, but Relaxed Grip

It’s mostly in the grip! You can tell a lot about a person by their grip in a handshake. That’s why you should always have a firm, but relaxed. A firm grip is automatically judged with confidence, however you don’t want to crush their hand. Make sure you also avoid the types of handshakes below.

Types of Handshakes to Avoid

Sweaty Slip – If you have a tendency to have sweaty palms, then this tip is for you. Sweat hands are very awkward, so make sure you wipe your hands on a piece of clothing before the handshake.

Limp Fish – It’s just like it sounds. When your hand is loose with little to no grip, it can be described as a poor handshake. Lack of confidence and social skills are impressions that a hiring manager might receive from this handshake.

Hand-Holder – Have you ever received a handshake from someone who didn’t stop holding your hand? Awkward, right? Sometimes the person might put their other hand on top of your hand, so they hold your hand with both hands. It might seem like an endearing handshake, but professionally, it’s awkward.

Royal Queen – Holding someone’s hand at their fingers is not an acceptable handshake.  Always grip around the palm, so the thumb webbing on both hands touch.

Avoider – When you look away during a handshake and pull your hand away very quickly, it will make the hiring manager feel very uncomfortable and give the impression that you lack social skills.

Grip Crusher – This is not a challenge to break someone’s hand. Crushing every bone in the hiring manager’s hand will trigger their instinct to run away.

Release Appropriately

It’s important to hold a handshake and shake their hand a few times before letting go. You want to stay from being portrayed as an “Avoider” or “Hand-Holder.”  Before you let go, start talking to the person and let go at the end of your first sentence. It’s an easy transition and it will strengthen the connection between the two of you. For example, say “it’s great to meet you” or “I’m happy to be here.”


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