Be Interview Ready

The five P's of interviewing are essential! Do you know that Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Presentation?

What’s your brand?

Getting ready for a transition? Looking to explore new paths? How do you get your best out there? Make a lasting impression that differentiates you from others and helps elevate your resume or LinkedIn profile to the top of a recruiter or admission officer’s list.

MBA Success

Are you thinking about an MBA?
The decision to apply to business school is both exhilarating and challenging! Explore ways to maximize your chances of success in the application process.

Manage Your Career Trajectory

Are you evaluating your next career steps?
Should you be looking for a significant career transformation or just looking for avenues to continue to grow and accelerate your path? We’re here to help!

Nine keys to a solid handshake

March 01, 2015

Nine keys to a solid handshake

"The quality of handshake was related to interviewer hiring recommendations... even after controlling for differences in candidate physical appearance and dress." University of Iowa Study

I still remember the best handshake of my life. A warm smile, hand confidently outstretched, exactly the right amount of pressure. It kicked off a great conversation.

However, seared more fully into my memory are the terrifying handshakes.  The one where I had to ice my hand from the bone-crushing pressure (there's no workers comp in recruiting, right?), the slimy grip, the funky finger trick where someone's index finger is on your wrist (cringe) and perhaps worst, the attempted hug/handshake/kiss combo that ends up feeling weird for everyone.  While being on the receiving end of any of the above was a little terrifying, it was more worrisome to imagine that I was delivering an odd handshake myself.

Years later, I met Cynthia Burnham, an expert in leadership presence who offered several great tips to developing a solid handshake.  Her book The Charisma Edge has loads of quick, helpful tips.  Note: we've taken the liberty of modifying them below to fit a more memorable mnemonic.

  • Hold your hand in an “L”: the L of your hand, the angle where your thumb and forefinger meet, should lock into the L of the other person’s hand, allowing you a complete grip, palm to palm, with your fingers wrapped around the other person’s hand.
  • Assess your own strength: practice, and ask more experienced people if your handshake is too weak or strong.
  • No slumping: AKA stand up straight.
  • Direct your eyes to theirs and smile: look at your partner’s face before you shake hands with them, not at their nametag, or worse, their hands.
  • Sustain eye contact: stay focused on your partner.
  • Have pockets, use them: cold or damp hands? Keep your hand in your pocket before shaking hands. Keep a handkerchief (a tissue may shred), which also comes in handy if you’ve just washed your hands. Sweaty palms? Consider spraying one hand with antiperspirant (non-stick or roll-on).
  • Avoid pain: if you’re doing a lot of hand shaking, avoid wearing rings on your right hand.
  • Keep it simple: no double handshakes, handshakes with elbow grabs, etc. Fancy handshakes can appear overly friendly. This holds for excessive pumping too, or holding onto someone’s hand well after they have loosened their grip.
  • Evaluate: ask others how you did and what you can improve.