Using a Proper Handshake or Bow

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains the importance of using correct body language at the beginning of your interview.


I want to talk with you about body language today and a very simple piece of body language that some people in the US get tripped up on.

I’ve spoken about the smile; I’ve spoken about the positioning of yourself in a chair during an interview but they were but, today I want to about the handshake. If you are born in the US, you understand that in the US a handshake is firm that you and maintain eye contact while you are shaking hands. If you’re from other cultures, that would be considered rude; but if you are interviewing in the US that is the appropriate thing to do.

So I want to encourage you to practice the proper handshake if you are not US born and if you are US born and interviewing outside the country, remember, culturally, it may be different. You may not be interviewing with an ex-pat working abroad. You may be interviewing with someone local who is used to, we say, a milder handshake.

In some cultures, the appropriate thing is not a handshake. It’s a bow. if you’re US-born, you have no experience with this. It’s the equivalent of someone being foreign-born and shaking hands in the US. You have to learn to bow. I can’t do that because different cultures do it differently but wherever you are, if you are interviewing with someone who’s expecting a bow, because you are interviewing in and other country (that is a non-US country), you have to come to someone to practice with.

This is an example of one of those “practice ahead of the interview” kind of things I talk about with regularity and being rude and not bowing, being rude and not shaking hands properly, will hurt you in the interview because it will temporarily distract the interviewer from paying attention to who you are or what you can give them.


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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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