Does it make sense to shake hands at the beginning of an interview when the interviewer is someone I work closely with in my current role with whom I never shake hands?

I am interviewing for an internal position that is very closely related to the area I work.  As a result, I am interviewing exclusively with individuals whom I already know, some very well.  Given that I rarely (if ever) shake hands with these individuals, I am struggling with the idea that the interview start with a handshake.  Any advice on this, as well as any other nuances with interviewing internally when you know the interviewers, would be greatly appreciated.

ps. I purchased the Interviewing Series a while back and think it is an amazing product.  Some of the best information and guidance on interviewing I have ever heard.

ken_wills's picture

It's a great way to acknowledge - physically - that you're treating the interview as a formal and professional meeting.

Make sure you smile!

jmart041's picture

Great - Thanks.  Appreciate the feedback.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Easiest answer ever.



DesmondJ's picture

Funny, such a simple question, but I had the same one.

Thanks for asking.

acao162's picture

One of the best bits of guidance I ever got regarding internal interviews is "Jump through all the hoops" - in other words, act as though you are an external candidate.  Write up the best resume, covering letter, shine up your interview skills, be ultra-prepared.  The fact they know you can work for & against you. 

Got me the job I'm in now and you better believe I prepare regularly for the job I *really* want someday.  Also, that guidance, passed along to my direct and used fully, got her a big promotion too.  I was so proud of her!

Prepare, shake hands, close.  Assume you will be judged harder and assessed tougher than everyone else.  (But I'm a teacher's kid so I've lived with the "do it better than the rest of the class to make the same grade" standard my whole life.  Grin)

thinking_aloud's picture

The straightforward 'yes' makes sense to me, and it got me wondering. What if a panel of internal interviewers all thought the answer should be no.

Does the professionalism count against you? You could be in the right but hinder your chances because of it. What if you were convinced the panel wouldn't like it? I'm not wanting to be difficult, its just something that I thought may make a difference. even though it shouldn't. 

ken_wills's picture

Hi - before anything else, let's stipulate that the answer to the original question is "YES" - you should shake hands.  Let's not create any doubt about the right approach while speculating or discussing a "what if?" scenario.  The answer is "yes, you should" - OK?

That said, a smart candidate is going to look for physical and verbal signs to read his interviewers.  You see the interviewer carefully re-reading a section of your resume with a puzzled look on his face - of course you're going to ask if you can clarify anything for him.  And if you approached somebody to shake hands and he ran in the other direction, you wouldn't pursue him, hand outstretched, saying "Let's be professional!", would you?

So yeah - read your audience.  And start from the courteous, professional, mature place - so if you err, you err in the right direction.

But plan to start every interview with a handshake and a courteous greeting.

Good luck!

thinking_aloud's picture

Sorry for causing any confusion about whether or not to shake hands. I mistakingly thought the question had been clearly answered and the discussion could move on to a different place, next time I will start a new thread for 'what if' scenarios like this. That's probably also best because my question in many ways was not actually about shaking hands- or reading the audience, but more about the unintended consequences and possible implications of assuming professionalism in others.

Good luck with your internal interview by the way, I hope it goes well for you (or went well, as it may have happened by now)!