Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sweaty Handshakes and How to Avoid Them

Now, let me be clear. I won't decide NOT to hire someone because of their sweaty handshake. In fact, I've hired quite a few people whose dripping grips required me to wipe my own palm. But while I may have hired these individuals, I don't think either of us has forgotten the awkward interactions we had after experiencing these uncomfortable physical interactions. Plus, as much as they may have seemed enthusiastic and confident before or during the interview, the sweaty handshake left a lasting impression that they were incredibly nervous and "out of their league". So, take a couple tips from me on how to avoid such moist moments.

The initial handshake: You'll likely be shaking someone's hand when you first come in the door for the interview. So scout out a bathroom ahead of time or pack a wet wipe for a last minute cleansing before you walk in. Now, you may need to fill out an application and wait a few minutes, so try to just focus on your paperwork and whenever possible, unclench your hand to let it air out a little. Once you see the hiring manager headed your way, take a moment to wipe off your hand on your pants under the table before standing to shake. No need to rush up so quickly your chair falls over. This has also happened to a few unfortunate candidates I've interviewed recently.

The post interview handshake: It's all about timing for this one. You need to learn to spot the "wrap-up". Here's some cues to watch for - 1. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions (which you will have prepared in advance - see a future post on this topic). 2. When you are told the next steps in the interview process (note, if they don't go into this, perhaps the interview didn't go so well). 3. Paper arranging/stacking.

At the first sign of the "wrap up" start airing out your palms again by letting your hands hover over your pant legs away from sight. Then start some casual and secretive pant wipe offs.

As long as you watch for the signs of impending handshakes, you will avoid presenting your potential employer with something that feels like it was yanked out of the ocean.

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