Get a Firm Grip on Job Interview Handshakes

May 8, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new tip for job interviewers: Look for brawny handshakers.

A university study reported on the LiveScience.com Web site found candidates with strong handshakes were hits with interviewers in partbecause they also tended to be good at small talk, making eye contact, and other valuable social skills.

“We probably don’t consciously remember a person’s handshake or whether it was good or bad,” said study leader Greg Stewart, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa, in the Web report. “But the handshake is one of the first nonverbal clues we get about the person’s overall personality, and that impression is what we remember.”

The research involved putting 98 students through mock job interviews with business people and then having them meet with trained handshake raters who rated their grips. The business people also graded each student’s overall performance and hireability and the two ratings were compared.

The result, according to the LiveScience account: those with grips like Arnold Schwarzenegger were also deemed to be more hireable.

“We’ve always heard that interviewers make up their mind about a person in the first two or three minutes of an interview, no matter how long the interview lasts,” said Stewart.”We found that the first impression begins with a handshake that sets the tone for the rest of the interview.”

Exactly what constitutes a “good” handshake? Steward suggested a firm, complete grip, eye contact and vigorous up-and-down movement.

Female Handshakers

The whole brawny handshake thing may work against female candidates because their handshakes may not be as powerful as their male counterparts, the news report said. But the good news is women tend to be stronger in other nonverbal communication skills that seemed to offset their less brawny grips, Steward said.

Women who did have a strong handshake seemed to have an advantage over men.

“Those women seemed to be more memorable than men who had an equally strong handshake,” Steward said. “A really good handshake made a bigger impact on the outcome of the interview for the women than it did for the men.”

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