Do you practice handshaking with your clients?

CPC Resume Help 3

By CPC Mastermind, Lori Jazvac.


In the employer’s waiting room, Jane, your client, feels well prepared. Because you’ve helped her practice how to respond to various questions, she is now primed to showcase her expertise.

Walking into the interview room, she meets the prospective employer who extends a firm hand. She reaches out with initial jitters, responding with a weak grip.

As the interview progresses, Jane’s nervousness dissipates — she answers each question with new-found confidence. At the interview close, she tentatively accepts the interviewer’s steady handshake before leaving the interview.

As she reviews the meeting with you, Jane speculates that she likely made a less than favourable impression, but she doesn’t know exactly why.

Sound familiar?

As Career Professionals, we know that a handshake is important. The handshake itself is a primary signal for employers. It communicates either an “air of confidence” or a lack of self-assurance in interviews.

The fact of the matter is that first impressions — and last impressions — count. In an interview, candidates have only a few seconds, via their handshake, to impress the employer at the opening and close of the interview. That handshake can communicate a wealth of information that your client may not realize.

The quality of a handshake offers subtle hints about an individual’s personal work style, traits, and habits. For example, it reveals whether the candidate might be a take-charge leader or a humble follower. Through a handshake, an interviewer can also gauge emotional intelligence and a candidate’s ability to deal with problematic situations.

Practice does make perfect

Body language is often a contributing factor as to why a candidate is screened out. So, we tell clients that they must offer a proper handshake. But do we practice handshaking techniques with our clients?

Tactical application of concepts are crucial to learning. This is why we ask clients to practice strategic interviewing by role-playing a series of potential questions and answers.

One handshake does not fit all

Candidates must also be able to evaluate each interview scenario and take into consideration different interviewing styles and personalities of employers.

Suppose the prospective employer offers a limp handshake. Does the person being interviewed follow their cue or extend a firmer grip? The choice between opting for the former or latter can actually indicate one’s interpersonal skill level and future job performance, as well as their way of relating to others, especially those in authority.

Videotape complete interview sessions

Videotaped sessions shown to candidates post-interview reveal body language blunders that have led to them being screened out. Conflicting facial expressions, eye-rolling, throat clearing, improper posture — even teeth-grinding — can be sensed and potentially questioned by the employer.

However, candidates can’t always visualize their entry and exit from an interview. By videotaping the complete session, you can provide clients with additional insight into the quality and effectiveness of their handshake.

Confidence is a two-way street

Sometimes a weak handshake signals a lack of confidence in another area. It might be appropriate to re-evaluate personal intentions and career goals. Clarifying a person’s value proposition can also help to strengthen non-verbal communication.

Poor body language may hinder the chances of being considered for a second interview and receiving a good job offer. Specifically, starting off with a good handshake at an interview goes a long way towards establishing a foundation for career success.

If you’d like to learn more empowering interview coaching techniques, consider earning your Certified Interview Strategist (CIS) certification through CPC.


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I love this Lori Jazvac. I have so often practiced hand shakes with my clients, even when they look at me like I am a little crazy. And so often it’s saved someone from squeezing the heck out of an interviewer’s hands, or being too soft. I used to run a two day interview skills workshop where we practiced hand shakes, and worked with a program as a job developer where I would greet my participants by shaking their hands every morning before class. The more job seekers feel comfortable the more confident they are in the interview. As you note, this is essential for success.

While this may not be as important with covid, it will eventually be a regular part of business. In the meantime I emphasize proper positioning of the camera for a Zoom interview, as well as dressing for success and positive body language.