The act of shaking someone’s hand can tell the other person a lot about you. Are you confident? Nervous? Uninterested? Domineering?

Women’s Health, Ask Men and several other magazines have recently written about why a handshake is the perfect form of introduction and how to do it properly.

“A handshake is more than just part of a friendly introduction—it helps break the ice, too, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma,” the Women’s Health article explains. “Shaking hands began as peace offering—proof you didn’t have any weapons, Wood says. Nowadays it still has the same primal effect of breaking down the “stranger barrier.”

There is nothing worse than a wimpy handshake. It conveys you’re uninterested and not confident. Others believe the handshake is a perfect time to show strength and practically crush your hand. While less painful than a wimpy handshake, it still isn’t a good idea. Firm and friendly without pulling the person toward you is your best bet.

Don’t be awkward! say, it’s nice to meet you or something similar during the shake.

If you aren’t comfortable with your handshake or going into an interview and want to make sure you’re sending the right message, practice. Find an honest friend and practice until you’re comfortable and confident. Yes, you might feel silly, but isn’t it better to feel silly with a friend that risk losing out on a job?

What’s the worst (or best!) handshake you’ve ever received?

Nonverbal Interview Tips

If you haven’t seen this article and infographic from AOL Jobs, go read it now.

Most of the information is common knowledge and much given advice. However, the nonverbal cues portion is worth reviewing. A few that should be noted:

  • 21% played with their hair
  • 41% had no knowledge of the company
  • 67% didn’t make eye contact
  • 38% didn’t smile
  • 21% crossed their arms
  • 9% were too animated
  • 26% had a weak handshake
  • 33% fidgeted

Almost all of those are areas the interviewee could easily change with confidence in themselves, practice and a few smart choices.

If you have long hair put it up.  Short, clip it back. Make your hair difficult to play with. If you already are a habitual hair-toucher, do not wear lots of product (men, this goes for you too!). The last thing you want is a sticky hand when giving a handshake.

Do your research! A well-informed candidate who wasn’t perfect at the interview will outshine a great interview that knew nothing about the company every single time.

Practice making eye contact. Did you know there is a name for the study of eye contact? It’s called oculesics. According to this post on body language tips, two seconds is a reasonable amount of time and conveys comfort. Avoiding eye contact makes you seem distrustful at best, rude and uninterested at worse.

Smile, even when you’re nervous. The more you practice smiling, the less likely you are to frown or come across as grouchy.

Sit up straight. Just like with everything else on this list, it conveys confidence and alertness.

Find something else to do with your hands if you are a hand talker or have a habit of crossing your arms. Bring work examples, extra copies of your resume and more importantly a pad and notebook to take notes. You don’t actually have to take notes, but it is much more difficult to cross your arms or wave wildly when you are holding a pen. This should also help the fidgeting.

Handshakes are not difficult. Ask a trusted friend to judge yours. Practice. There is no excuse for a poor handshake (minus a broken hand of course).

What other nonverbal cues do you look for in a candidate?