May 5, 2019

Job Interview Success Is in The Details—The Handshake

By Melanie Szlucha, Redinc, LLC

We all know that people form impressions based on the smallest details. Perhaps when you read this message line you laughed at how improbable it would be to NOT get a job offer because your handshake was too strong or too weak.

Well, you’re right, it doesn’t work quite that way.  However, it is one of the details that people use to form an impression of you.

We’ve all been the recipient of those bone-crushing handshakes.  Think about the sense you get of the person who just delivered that blow. Do you consider them too aggressive? Inconsiderate? Powerful? Overcompensating? Overbearing?  Are you likely to want to shake hands with them again?  They could have a great personality and be a nice person, but nevertheless this detail is consciously or unconsciously collected in your mental database.

What about those handshakes that are the typical limp fish?  Or, those kind of “fingers-only” handshakes? They leave me with the impression that this person doesn’t want to get too close to me. I never get a warm, friendly, approachable vibe.

If I’m hiring candidates for a customer service or sales role, I’m definitely going to be either consciously or unconsciously influenced by how people shake my hand since this is how they would also represent themselves to prospects or clients. If it’s an internal role, it could be a small clue about their personality and how they work with others.

It is hard to describe a “perfect handshake”, but I strongly recommend that you practice with a partner who will give you honest and direct feedback about what you are doing wrong.  It might seem like a very minor detail, but when you’re interviewing for the perfect position you don’t want to take any chances.

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded RedInc, LLC to help job seekers by writing effective resumes and coaching them through job interviews. She is available to teach classes as well as work with individual clients improve their results at any phase of the job search process. Find out more at

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