Get a grip!

I keep seeing snippets that indicate it's best to have a firm handshake when applying for a new job. According to research, to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, you have a better chance of getting hired if you have a hearty grip and keep eye contact with interviewers.

A team at Iowa University put 100 students through mock interviews with a recruitment consultant. Interviewers assessed each student's performance and "handshake experts" scored students separately on their handshakes. Those who scored high on handshakes were also deemed most employable by interviewers. Women with firm handshakes were found to be particularly attractive to potential employers.

The students with limp handshakes were judged to have less gregarious personalities and were less impressive.

We probably don't consciously remember a person's handshake or whether it was good or bad," Mr Stewart at Iowa said. "But the handshake is one of the first non-verbal clues we get about the person's overall personality, and that impression is what we remember."

The key to a good handshake? "A complete, firm grip, eye contact and a vigorous up-and-down movement", said Stewart.  No room for those wet fish then!

The report built on previous research by the University of Alabama that showed that women who were more liberal, intellectual and open to new experiences were found to have the a firmer handshake.

Twenty one years of recruiting has meant a lot of handshakes. Not all of them good.  I still take a deep breath when the slightly warm, damp sigh is proffered and wonder if I should say something.  It is fair to say that handshaking can be learned and at student stage is probably still in development.  I wonder if the results would have been different had they tested a room full of experienced politicians or sales people.

Non-verbal clues still carry considerable weight at interview.  Interviewers will look closely at skills and competency but they are also searching to find a personality that complements that of the organisation and searching for clues that the person will spark, contribute and generally be a good team fit.  So don't just brush your shoes, press the suit and prepare for questioning at the interview – develop a grip as well.


One comment to this post

  •  :  I've been seeing handy hints about job hunting and interviews on one of my Freeview channels (other cable TV providers are available). A national UK jobs-board is sponsor of a popular US sitcom and their pre- and post- programme segment adverts give hints about emailing your CV, dressing smartly, giving a good handshake and doing your research. These are great soundbites and will hopefully stick in the minds of all job seekers. I love a good handshake. Anyone who's ever been to one of my presentations/workshops about job hunting and interview techniques will have practised doing a handshake. I hope you're keeping up the good work!

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