Extending A Hand

It may not be the first thing you think of when prepping for an important job interview, but your handshake reveals more about you than you may realize. According to Dress for Success Career Center volunteer Carol Gardner, mastering the body language of that all-important handshake can go a long way toward furthering your career. “I often advise job applicants to extend their hand,” says Gardner. “A firm grasp and good eye contact are crucial to communicating confidence and readiness.”

History tells us that extending your hand was once a way to prove you weren’t holding any weapons when meeting someone new, but today a proper handshake is an important piece of every working woman’s portfolio. According to The Emily Post Institute, you’ll want to leave the fist bumps and high fives for your personal life and perfect the art of a firm grip for that all-important job interview or business meeting.

“The person you are with may control the meeting, but your opening — and closing — handshake is the perfect opportunity for you to take initiative,” adds Gardner. Here’s the smart way to do it:

  • Stand and look the other person in the eye while extending your right hand.
  • Smile, and offer a greeting. Gardner suggests saying, “Thank you for seeing me,” or “I’m looking forward to hearing more about this opportunity.”
  • Make sure your grip is firm. A strong — but not crushing — grip conveys confidence. By contrast, a weak grip can imply a lack of interest.
  • Hold the grip for two to three seconds max, maintain eye contact, and move your hand in an up-and-down motion. You don’t want to move your hand from side to side or pump more than three times.

“When I talk to our clients about the handshake, I tell them it’s about conveying a sense of openness and enthusiasm,” says Gardner. “And I do advise them to practice because building and maintaining that confidence is key. It’s what the suiting experience and the career counseling are designed to do.”

Written by Kristen Spina

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