Last week I started my two-part series on how to do well in interviews. The last of the three points made in that article described research suggesting a bad handshake can hinder you from getting the job. I’ll pick up where I left off and explain what a bad handshake is
A bad handshake
Your handshake is bad if it is too wet (uurrgh!); too limp and weak – this makes you seem shy and anxious; too firm – don’t squeeze too hard, it hurts. Bringing pain to your interviewer can never be a positive start to an interview. Your handshake is also counter-productive if you barely touch the interviewer – this suggests you want to maintain a distance and perhaps don’t want to be touched and if your hand is straight.
In a pleasant handshake, your hands should clasp each other in a sort-of hand embrace; this isn’t possible if your hand is proffered rigidly straight.
It doesn’t matter who extends their hand first in an interview setting; however, don’t forget to shake hands at the end of the interview too. The interviewer might not care about creating a good impression with you so it is very much up to you to ensure that niceties like handshakes happen.
These are four more ways to impress in an interview:
1. Maintain eye contact AND lean forward
Eye contact and leaning forward portray confidence in oneself, focus on and interest in the discussion. Eye contact especially can help to bring your interesting personality across.
When someone fails to maintain eye contact they could just be shy (not a good trait in investment banking). On the other hand, it might mean they are lying or plain simply bored and hence not that interested in the job.
2. Mirror the body language of the interviewer
I recall learning on a sales training course that subtly mimicking the body language of someone you are trying to sell to (and in this case you are trying to sell yourself) can have a positive impact by showing agreement and empathy.
Body language mirroring naturally happens when two people, such as good friends, are in sync and getting along. However, because body language experts have successfully made us aware of this fact, you will put yourself at a disadvantage if you are blatantly following your interviewer’s body movements. You have to be subtle.
Importantly, don’t create a barrier between you and the interviewer by crossing your arms. Keep your arms on your lap or at your sides.
3. Be careful about cracking jokes
Making your interviewer laugh is a sure fire way of making them like you and will go a long way towards getting you the job or at least into the next round of interviews. Take heed of these two provisos:
4. Don’t repeat the question, please
It makes you sound a little stupid.
“So Ms. Phiri, where did you come in from this morning?”
“This morning, I came in from....”
Umm, I hope that sounded oh-so-kindergarten even to you. It’s important to make the interview flow like an ordinary conversation and the chances are you don’t repeat the question when you’re talking to someone that you’re comfortable with.
Sometimes, it is appropriate to repeat part of the questions, for instance, if several questions are asked in one go then repeat each question as you answer it to give your answer more structure.
Finally, speak passionately and enthusiastically. Good luck getting your dream job!
“Opportunities don’t often come along. So, when they do, you have to grab them.” Audrey Hepburn
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.