The power of a handshake

almost 6 years ago by Kathy Lewis


I'm a recent recruit to recruitment – I joined peoplefusion earlier this year after several years leading a team of 150 casual and permanent staff whose job it was to provide exceptional customer service.

Part of the onboarding process which I managed was ensuring everyone was on the same page when it came to customer service etiquette, including standing to greet and shake the hand of clients, and making eye contact when speaking.

It has only been since I started working in recruitment that I’ve realised the simple act of shaking the hand of someone you’ve just met is becoming a dying art. I have been surprised by the number of candidates who don’t introduce themselves by shaking my hand.  

Call me old fashioned but I’m a firm believer that a hand shake is a powerful part of creating a positive first impression. And when do positive first impressions count ….?

Having succeeded in reaching the job interview stage, it would be a shame not to put your best foot hand forward when developing a rapport with your interviewer.

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy (who is famous for her “power pose” theory) has said that during that first meeting you are judged on two criteria: trust and respect. Ideally you want to be perceived as having both, but trust is the most important factor.

 So, what are my tips for making a great first impression?

  1. Dress appropriately for the role and company you are interviewing for – and if in doubt, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.

  2. Arrive 15 minutes early and ensure you are polite to the company’s front of house staff – I can guarantee you that it’s just as important to make a good first impression with the Receptionist as it is with the Hiring Manager.

  3. Introduce yourself with a handshake and make eye contact.

  4. Smile – there’s plenty of evidence showing that you can lesson feelings of stress and anxiety (job interview nerves) by smiling, and that if you smile the person you’re interacting with is likely to respond positively to you.