At the job interview: Part two. Eye contact and let’s shake on it!

When we shake hands we release oxytocin, this is a bonding hormone, it helps us feel connected to people.  Great to know that with a simple handshake, you are already starting to bond with your future employer or boss, or at least the interviewer.

There are some basic rules to follow when shaking hands.

  • Keep your hand level – not leant over either way but horizontal, so your thumb is pointing directly upwards. This demonstrates equality with the person you are shaking hands with, you do not want to come across as domineering, or submissive.
  • On a scale of one to 10, where one is the “wet fish” handshake and 10 is breaking bones, you should go for a six, firm, but not verging on painful. A loose or weak handshake can give the impression of weakness in your character, at a subconscious level.  It can make the person you are shaking hands with feel like you do not want to connect with them.  Too strong, and the person can feel uncomfortable, or like you are trying to dominate them.
  • The timing should be one to two seconds, one to three pumps of the hand.

Eye contact promotes trust, research shows it can make you seem more likeable, memorable and persuasive.  Lack of eye contact sows the seeds of mistrust.

Keep eye contact while shaking hands, and throughout the interview (not in a Hannibal Lecter, I want to eat your liver, way).

Eye contact should be held with any one person for three to four seconds, then break off for a couple of seconds, then look at them again.  You will find that your eye contact naturally ebbs and flows with the conversation.

The smile (see part one), handshake, and eye contact can happen in the first 10 seconds of an interview, but the impact can last throughout, it could make a significant difference in building rapport with your interviewer and ultimately, your chances of getting the job.

Good luck!


Article by Paul Wilson – Director @CV&Coffee

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