Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Give a Proper Handshake

If you’re a polite human being and are open to handshaking, as you should be, then chances are you have experienced it. Worst case scenario, you were the one delivering it. What am I talking about? The dead fish handshake. It may be my opinion, but I certainly know that I am not the only one when I say that the dead fish handshake is by far one of the worst things to encounter upon meeting someone new. You don’t want to experience it and you definitely do NOT want to be the one delivering it.

A handshake is usually the first thing you do when you meet someone. Whether you know it or not, or want to admit it, your handshake says a lot about who you are and what kind of person you are. Savvy business owners and workers know how to give a great handshake and know the difference between a good handshake and a bad one. A good, strong handshake shows that you are a confident, trustworthy and strong individual. This is certainly the impression you want to make on an employer upon meeting them for the first time, but how do you do it?

In order to help you deliver the best handshake ever, I came up with a few tips that you could follow in order to do so. The most important tip I can give is to try and avoid the weak, limp, dead fish handshake. I can assure you that nobody appreciates this kind of shake.

Eye Contact
This is a very important aspect of the handshaking process. It has nothing to do with your hands, but without proper use of your eyes, it really doesn’t matter what you choose to do with your hands. When you first meet someone, especially an employer that you are interviewing with, you want to make eye contact with them before they extend their hand to you and during the handshake. If you look down at the ground instead, it gives the impression that you are not confident, not trustworthy or not very interested.

Grip
As I stated earlier, a weak handshake is no good. A weak handshake has very negative connotations. Many people think that a weak handshake shows that you are a person with weak character and very little to no confidence. It can also give the impression that you are not very interested in the person you are shaking hands with, much like lack of eye contact. Giving a good, firm handshake shows that you are confident in yourself and excited and enthusiastic about the person you are meeting. You want to be careful not to grab the other person’s hand too hard though as that can be taken as a sign of arrogance or aggression.

Shaking
Have you ever shaken someone’s hand and they just kept shaking and shaking and shaking? If not, you’re lucky because you feel like your arm is being thrown around haphazardly. It’s not a great feeling. That’s why when you shake someone’s hand, the shake should be slow and steady and shouldn’t really involve too many “shakes.” Experts say two to three shakes will suffice.

Hand Position
When you grip the other person’s hand, your hand shouldn’t be above or below theirs. Instead, your hands should be palm to palm with both hands straight up-and-down. Experts say that the web of your hand, which is the space between your thumb and forefinger, should meet with theirs.

Odd Things to Think About
If you think about it, hands are a bit odd and in some cases, a bit gross. Some people have very sweaty hands naturally and can’t do anything about it. Other people, like me for instance, have cold hands almost all of the time. If you’re like me and have very cold hands, it may be a good idea to keep your hand in your pocket before meeting the interviewer so they don’t feel as though they are shaking hands with ice. If you have damp hands, wipe them off on your pants as you wait to meet with the other person. These are both really small things and perhaps they aren’t very important at all, but it doesn’t hurt to think about them.

Names
With all of these handshaking tips on your mind, it may be difficult to remember the main reason you are shaking this person’s hand. They are introducing themselves to you and with that they are telling you their name. It may be very easy to forget their name or to not even hear them as they tell you since you have so many other things going on in your mind. However, remembering someone’s name is very important. Back in college when I was studying journalism, I realized how important it was to remember someone’s name. If you’re writing a story on someone or quoting them in your article, you have to get their name right. After that, whenever I met someone, no matter if it was for an article or just in general, I would make it a point to etch their name into my brain. In fact, when I would say their name back to them at a later time, they would usually be surprised and quite flattered that I remembered their name. It’s a small effort on your part, but it can make a world of a difference.

IMAGE: Courtesy of King Cricket

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter