Do women shake hands differently than men? Do you shake a man's hand and a woman's hand the same way? Most importantly... do you have a Viagra handshake?
In my book Bulletproof Your Job (HarperCollins), I use the term "Viagra handshake" to describe the firm handshake that is vitally important when you're on an interview.
So, do you have a Viagra handshake? I'd love to hear from you.
Women constantly tell me that they are more judgmental over a man's handshake than a woman's. Men seem to be concerned about crushing a woman's hand, and yet the strongest handshakes I get are from women.
Unrelated as it may be to your qualifications or resume, a simple handshake is one of the most talked-about aspects of an interview. From my years as a headhunter, I can tell you that a handshake is one of the first things that HR people and hiring managers notice - and don't forget.
Beyond a firm handshake, what's your next job interview essential? Crest White Strips. Now, I have to say that whenever I write about "shallow" things like whitening your teeth before an interview, I get angry emails from readers who say that an applicant's sparkling teeth (or non-sparkling, as the case may be) have no place in a hiring decision. Sorry, but these people are in denial. Especially during a recession, landing a job depends on more than just your qualifications. A bright smile can only help you. Why fight it?
Hiring decisions always come down to at least two finalists, and in today's economy, companies have more options than ever. You need to distinguish yourself beyond your work experience.
Your must-haves: a Viagra handshake, white teeth, eye contact, and please don't go into an interview smelling like you were just assaulted at the Bloomingdale's perfume counter. Err on the side of caution and make it a fragrance-free day. Imagine you're a woman interviewing with a man who gets a whiff of your perfume, which happens to be the same fragrance that his ex-wife wore... the ex-wife who cheated with a younger man, filed for divorce, and won the house in the settlement. Do you really want those thoughts running through your interviewer's head while you discuss your resume?
Another classic HR issue that women should be aware of is that today, most hiring managers (male or female) take extra care to give a woman a "textbook" interview - no asking about your age, your marital status, and if you're a mom. Come on, it's against the law and wrong. Right?
In my latest book Bulletproof Your Job, I explain that if you want to separate yourself from the competition to win a job, you need to volunteer just a bit of the information you know they want to ask you - but won't. Off the record, hiring managers tell me they hire people that they feel a personal bond with - someone they like or can relate to. So weave in just a few juicy details. Spot a signed baseball in the interviewer's office? Say "my son can't wait to check out the new Yankee Stadium." Or when the timing is right, volunteer: "My fiancé is in banking." You can also spout the famous line: "I've been divorced for three years, and I'm a bit of a workaholic because I have a great nanny who helps me with my two kids." I'm not telling you to spill your guts, but share just enough with the interviewer to answer the questions that he or she really wants to know.
Trivial, shallow, sexist....sorry, but no. During a recession, you need every trick in the book.
I know that many of you may not agree with me or may even be appalled by my suggestions. But trust me: my tips will make you stand out from the others.
These interview secrets apply whether you're being interviewed by a man or a woman. Yes, you should be judged solely on your qualifications (and that is the law, after all), but welcome to the real world of work. It's not a democracy. During a recession there's more competition for every job, and you need every extra tip you can get.
Stephen Viscusi is the author of Bulletproof Your Job (HarperCollins) and founder of BulletproofYourResume.com. Friend him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter (@workplaceguru)! He'd love to hear your thoughts at Stephen@viscusi.com.