Denver Staffing Agency – The Handshake, the Interview and You

  • Posted by: J. Kent Gervasini |
  • 8/16/12 |
  • 10:40 PM
Denver Staffing Agency – The Handshake, the Interview and You
Although we missed the June 21st World Handshake Day, we at J. Kent Staffing would like to spend some time talking about a telling event during the interview process: the handshake. While a good handshake did not make our list of  "Top 10 Interview Blunders," it definitely can affect the impression you give to hiring managers and others involved in the interview process as you are in the hunt for a competitive Denver job with top companies.
The Handshake – Non-Verbal Communication
Many researching the history of the handshake have come across great stories of how the handshake became a prominent gesture in our culture, including the thought that the Romans would check another man’s forearm and hand to make sure he was not carrying a weapon. Most historians agree the handshake predates written history. The earliest written records we have of the handshake are from the Egyptians; the Egyptian hieroglyphic of the extended hand represents the verb, 'to give.’1
The Handshake – An Important Formality in Denver’s Business World
The handshake is a very important part of the business world and its importance should not be overlooked.  Consciously or subconsciously, whether we like it or not, we are judged or “sized-up” by our handshake--so make it count. 
The Interview Handshake – Introduction and Closure
Interviews are conducted as a standard practice in the business world.  Keep in mind that the interview engagement with a potential employer is process driven, and the handshake is part of that process.  At the beginning of the interview the handshake is a form of introduction, and at the end, a form of closure.
It is unknown how the handshake progressed in American culture to screen out candidates by employers.  Regardless, its importance remains and J. Kent Staffing Managers recommend you:
  • present a firm comfortable handshake
  • mirror that of the person with whom you are shaking hands
  • match the strength and hold firm until the recipient releases
Women and the Handshake
A common misconception is that females offer a less firm handshake than men where by suggesting they are less employable than men.  An interesting study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology presented findings investigate this thought. In the study, “Exploring the handshake in employment interviews,” the authors found that women received lower ratings for their handshake, but they did not on average receive lower assessments of employment suitability because they made better eye contact with the interviewers than did the men.2
Handshakes Around the World
In the spirit of learning new things every day, J. Kent Staffing offers you this list of interesting customs regarding the handshake, found on Mirror News3 website.
  • The Boy Scout handshake is made with the hand nearest the heart and is offered as a token of friendship.4
  • In Switzerland and most European countries, it is expected to shake women’s hands in company first.
  • Austrians will offer handshakes as equally to children as adults when meeting.
  • Moroccans give one kiss on each cheek (to those of the same gender) together with a handshake.
  • Islamic custom has it that shaking hands is the practice of the Prophet Mohammed as well as a sign of welcome.
  • In Sudan, people who know each other give a good pat on the shoulder of the other before shaking hands.
  • In China, where a weak handshake is preferred, people shaking hands will often hold on to each other's hands for an extended period after the initial handshake.
  • It is expected that the ‘senior’ person will initiate a handshake in South Korea, where it is also preferred to be weak. It is a sign of respect to grasp the right arm with the left hand when shaking hands.
  • Where physical contact between members of opposite sexes is prohibited in some religions, shaking hands is frowned upon. A short nod or bow is often preferred.

1. The Origin of the Common Handshake. Retrieved from:
2. "Exploring the handshake in employment interviews.” By Stewart, Greg L.; Dustin, Susan L.; Barrick, Murray R.; Darnold, Todd C. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 93(5), Sep 2008, 1139-1146.
3. Leigh, Rob. (2012, March 06). To shake or not to shake? Customs, snubs and historic moments in our gripping history of the handshake. Mirror News. Retrieved from
4. Retrieved from

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