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I'm a student and have attended 2 interviews so far. The first one, I was sitting at the reception area and one of the managers came in and met me. She offered the handshake first. She walked me to a room and there was another manager sitting there. She introduced him by name, I said "nice to meet you" and he just sat there. There was a table between us. I wasn't able to judge if the table was too wide for me to do a proper handshake across the table. I tried to read the managers body language and it seemed as if he was the more serious, strict type (which he was) and it didn't look like he was going to reach out for a handshake, so I took a seat. On my way out, the manager I met first said she will escort me out. I reached out for a handshake with the second manager and he shook my hand (it didn't seem like he wanted too. No enthusiasm, he just sat there, very strict).

In the second interview, I was greeted by a manager while I was at the reception again. The manager reached out for a handshake first. He took me to a room where there was another employee and another manager. They didn't reach out for a handshake immediately but they were sitting there smiling and seemed friendly so I reached out for a handshake. The employee gladly returned the handshake and then I turned to the manager sitting down and reached out for a handshake with him as well. He was somewhat surprised but pleased as well. When leaving, we all got up, I shook the hands of the employee, the first manager and then the second manager (the second manager was actually about to turn around and leave but luckily he saw me reaching out for a handshake and he turned back and shook my hand. Again, he was surprised but pleased).

Nonetheless, is it recommended to meet everyone with a handshake during the start and end of an interview even if they don't offer a handshake first? If there is a table between me and the interviewer, is it recommended that I walk around the table or shake the hand over the table?

Edit: I did these interview's in Toronto, Canada. I'm a male and the people who I was meeting were also male (except for the worker whom I referred to as the 'employee' and the manager who offered the handshake first during the first interview). I was applying to an IT position for both interviews.

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    Just be guided by the individual. Some people are shakers, some aren't :) If someone isn't really accessible to shake their hand, then just greet them and not worry about it. Otherwise, if they really want to shake your hand, they'll move towards you. – Jane S Jul 26 '15 at 5:11
  • I miss those days when I was young and stupid and my handshakes were bone crushing :) Given my liability, I never initiated handshakes. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 26 '15 at 13:27
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    As an example of what Joe Strazzere mentioned, religious jews may be reluctant to shake hands with the opposite gender. There might be explicit reasons they didn't offer the handshake. – yochannah Jul 26 '15 at 16:56
  • @JoeStrazzere I edited my posted and added information (see the edit for more info). These interview's took place in Toronto, Canada. – user18703 Jul 27 '15 at 3:20
  • I'm in same boat as you(Canada, internship, had around 10 interviews in past two work terms). I'm actually really appreciate that you brought this up because I didn't pay much attention in handshake( Usually just do it when they offered me....) – SSilicon Jul 27 '15 at 17:43
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is it recommended to meet everyone with a handshake during the start and end of an interview even if they don't offer a handshake first?

In my part of the US, in the software field in which I work, it is considered appropriate to always offer a handshake.

It doesn't matter who extends their hand first. If someone offers his or her hand, shake it firmly, but not with a painfully hard grip, while smiling and looking the person in the eye. If the individual doesn't offer their hand, then you offer yours. Usually you would also say something like "Hello, nice to meet you."

In other cultures, the norms are different. It's very important to consider the norms in your specific culture and locale.

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    When in doubt go for the shake! – Mark Rogers Jul 27 '15 at 15:57
  • In the UK too, it would never come over as rude to offer a handshake if the other party doesn't initiate, but it might be considered rude to not offer a handshake. – Kialandei Feb 1 '16 at 8:43
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In Germany, along with some other nations including South Korea and the UAE, it is considered unusual at best and inappropriate at worst to offer a handshake to a superior of any kind. It is always recommended to wait for them to offer you a handshake and if they don't, just go on with the conversation. I have heard of cases were a handshake was refused by superior, which makes a very awkward start of a conversation.

Pro tip for men: Always stand or make a gesture to stand up while shaking someone's hand.

EDIT: Sources

http://www.knigge.de/archiv/ihre-fragen/handschlag---vorstellungsgespraech-11390.htm http://www.knigge.de/themen/gesellschaft/aufstehen-2593.htm

  • I'm curious: what is the standing up about, and why for men? :) – yochannah Jul 26 '15 at 16:53
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    I have never heard of this in the UK - I think you may be extending the more formal German workplace into areas where it isn't appropriate – Pepone Jul 26 '15 at 17:05
  • I have not yet been to the UK, so I cannot speak about these rules being applicable there. In Germany there exists a guide specifically for good behavior in social situations called "Knigge", which addresses the issue of handshakes in a formal interview, which translates roughly as "You should first say 'Good morning / day / afternoon' but should wait until the other person extends his/her hand." (knigge.de/archiv/ihre-fragen/…) – Chris Jul 26 '15 at 19:29
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    I think assuming the Western world cares what Germany's "Ms. Manners" (Knigge Society) thinks is suspect. I'm not sure if most Germans even care for their rules (including how far to stand, down to the exact cm, while shaking hands). – Chan-Ho Suh Jul 26 '15 at 21:41
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    @Chris - I think Pepone is commenting on your "belief" that the German custom applies across many Western cultures - if you don't have experience beyond German culture, you should be careful making broad inclusions. I have worked with English, French, German, and Swiss - and always found a handshake to be welcomed by anyone I offered it to, regardless of relative status. – HorusKol Jul 27 '15 at 1:12

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