Firm handshakes help grab jobs -- study

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Smartening up and smiling are key tactics for job-seekers, but a simple well-delivered handshake could trump them both, according to a new study.

Two retired Australian servicemen shake hands in the town of Braidwood, about 90 kilometres east of Canberra April 25, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Research by the University of Iowa found applicants with a firm handshake are far more likely to get the job than candidates with a limp grip.

A solid handshake was found to be more important than dress or physical appearance as it set off the interviewer’s impression of that person.

“We found that the first impression begins with a handshake that sets the tone for the rest of the interview,” said researcher George Stewart, associate professor of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business, in a statement.

Stewart said this was the first study to quantify the importance of a good handshake in a job interview.

The study, to be published in September in the Journal of Applied Psychology, was conducted with 98 students in the Tippie College of Business participating in mock job interviews with local business representatives.

The interviewers graded each student’s overall performance and hireability while five trained handshake raters also scored students on their handshake. The scores were then compared.

Stewart said the researchers found that those students who scored high with the handshake raters were also considered to be the most hireable by the interviewers and seen as having more extroverted personalities and greater social skills.

The students with wimpy handshakes were judged to have less gregarious personalities and were less impressive.

“We probably don’t consciously remember a person’s handshake or whether it was good or bad,” Stewart said. “But the handshake is one of the first nonverbal clues we get about the person’s overall personality, and that impression is what we remember.”

The key to a good handshake? A complete, firm grip, eye contact and a vigorous up-and-down movement, said Stewart.