Some Handy Tips

Although your mouth should do most of the talking in the interview, your hands will play an important role, too. For example, you’ll have to shake a few hands, and you’ll have to deal with the age-old issue of what to do with your hands while you’re being interviewed.

Shake It

Handshaking was discussed earlier, but since this is such an essential part of making a good impression on your potential employer, you’ll learn more particulars of the proper shake here.

First things first: A good handshake is firm without crossing over into bone-crushing territory; it’s brief—three to five pumps (up and down) is a good rule of thumb; and you should always, always offer your palm in a vertical position when you’re an employee.

You may have seen plenty of men and women offer their hand in a palm-down manner when shaking hands with a colleague and you like the way it looks. In fact, you’ve been practicing and perfecting this move! Well, lose it. The palm-down handshake is a dominating gesture. It’s a way of saying, “I’m the alpha fe/male here.”

Never, ever shake hands with your interviewer by offering your hand in a palm-down position. This shows that you think an awful lot of yourself (too much, in fact, considering you haven’t been hired yet). It’s a domineering move, so save it for when you shake hands with your little brother.

Now, if you happen to be a big cheese, go ahead and shake hands any way you want. But since most interviewees are fairly low on the totem pole (especially in comparison to the interviewer), be sure to offer your palm in a way that says, “Hey, I’m no threat. Let’s be pals.”

Other important tips on the handshake:

  • If you suffer from sweaty palms, try to discreetly dry them before shaking.

  • If your skin is dry, moisturize before your interview.

  • Keep your nails short and neat.

All of the above issues point to your personal hygiene. Someone who pays attention to small details makes a good employee!

Hand Placement

Overusing your hands when you speak simply distracts the interviewer. And since hand-talkers are usually perceived (correctly or not) to be emotional people, he may wonder what you’ll do with those hands when you’re faced with a serious crisis in the office.

Now, what are you supposed to do with your hands while you’re answering questions? Try not to wave them around like semaphore flags, even if you’re a natural hand-talker. Do your best to keep them corralled without looking like they’ve turned to blocks of concrete on your lap.

In other words, you want your hands to emphasize what you’re saying with your mouth; you don’t want them to be front and center in the conversation.

You also want to avoid touching your face, rubbing your arms, or hugging yourself. Self-touches like these convey nervousness or a lack of confidence. (They’re thought to be self-comforting measures.) Your best bet is to fold your hands on your lap in a natural-looking way. And leave them there.

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