Hire me even though I ran out so fast you saw a blur?
October 17, 2014 2:24 PM   Subscribe

I had a great second interview for a position that I believe I will excel in. I did the best I could and answered as truthfully as possible. I believe things were going well and both managers seemed receptive, yet had their poker faces on. My mistake was when I got up to leave, I grabbed my purse and forgot to shake their hands and walked out. Is it a big deal?

I'm kicking myself and want insight to whether this is a huge faux pas that I could never recover from, or if it's no big deal and to brush it off. Forgetting to shake someone's hand at an interview is something that has happened to me before. This is for an office semi-conservative position that is somewhat entry level but could lead to a great career. I don't know if I'm making a big deal out of this or if it cost me the job. The second interview was with the district manager and manager A which I will be working with. I interviewed with manager A previously and got a call back the same day to meet for the second interview. I made a conscious effort to remember to shake manager A's hand in the first interview, but the second time around I completely blanked out. I am left handed and an instinctual impulse to reach for a handshake doesn't come naturally to me. I have been able to "train" myself upon meeting someone for the first time and make a concerted effort to do so in the past. However, I was so frazzled at the end of the second interview that I completely just got up, said something along the lines of "I'm looking forward to hearing back from you" and reached for the door so fast that I could have made an outline of my shape in the doorway. I felt like something was off or wrong but hadn't realized until I got in the car.

Obviously, walking back in was not an option and would have come off a lot worse than just not shaking hands at the end of the interview. But, I feel like that was my missed opportunity of sealing the deal so to speak and I wonder if I sabotaged myself? How to gracefully recover from this if I do get a call back and should I even bring it up? I know in the future that this is a weak spot and I am working on improving this and know realistically I should continue to job search until I have an offer. I just really wanted this one and want to know if this is a missed social cue that might have ruined my chances?
posted by lunastellasol to Work & Money (18 answers total)
I mean, are the people you interviewed with completely crazy and horrible at hiring? If so, then yeah, this might have disqualified you, and the people would have been shitty to work for anyway. Otherwise, "not shaking hands at end of interview after being otherwise gracious and polite" is probably like 900th on the list of things they care about in the person they're hiring. Seriously, don't worry about it.
posted by brainmouse at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I personally don't think this is a big deal, though I don't work in a field where hiring practices are terribly formal.

If you do, I'd shoot the hiring manager and email that just says, "It was so great to meet with you the other day! Thanks for having me in," or whatever is appropriate. Just on the off chance that they thought you ghosted or something. (Which they probably didn't.)

I cant' really imagine a scenario where you have someone who is the perfect candidate and obviously getting the job, and then you don't hire them based on some minor social slip up like this. Especially since everyone knows job interviews make people nervous.
posted by Sara C. at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Was this today? Just send them an effusive thank you email.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Chill out. It happened. What's next is out of your control and trying to predict the future will make you crazy.

Hey, you did your best and you did well. Of all the things that could happen in an interview, this is really really minor. Maybe congratulate yourself on a nearly perfect round, and then if they call back, you can be in the headspace that you did well, not that you flubbed it. You did do well, remember it!
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: We have a guy here who walks around with Mr Burns arms, and on the day he came in for an interview and I went to shake his hand, he literally just dropped three of his weirdly perched little fingers into my hand, no grasp, just kind of draped them there for me to grab. I watched him and this was how he shook hands with everyone he met that day. No handshake would have been better than whatever the fuck that was. Obviously we hired him anyway.

Make sure you send a thank you email and you're probably fine.
posted by phunniemee at 2:39 PM on October 17, 2014 [23 favorites]

Probably not an issue, folks know interviewees are nervous.
posted by sammyo at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2014

I will answer your question with a question.

If these people are the sort of people that would refuse to hire you because you were nervous, would you want to work for them?

Send a thank you note and forget about it. They likely already have, and if they haven't, they aren't worth working for.
posted by saeculorum at 2:47 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with showbiz_liz - let the thank you email be your form of a handshake. Not a big deal at all from my perspective, and I'm in an industry that's really formal.
posted by naju at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2014

Like it or not - if you're a woman, the lack of a handshake is a non-issue. If you are male and didn't shake hands with the male interviewer(s) - it might be an issue. But even then, it's not worth worrying about.

Concentrate on the ThankYou note.
posted by doctor tough love at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doesn't bother me when I'm interviewing people whether they shake my hand or not when they leave. Sometimes, I feel bad if I don't shake theirs to thank them for coming in, but I do have other things that tend to find me as I'm saying goodbyes.

I echo the sentiment that if not shaking someone's hand at the end of the interview caused you to lose the job, you are BLESSED to have lost that job. Even if it was a sales job where having a good handshake can be important, hopefully your interviewers were paying much more attention to your qualifications and discussion during your interview. I would not worry about it. You could send a nice follow-up email thanking them for the opportunity to come interview if you want, but don't try to use that as another platform to promote yourself for the job. I don't like that unless you forgot to say something specific during the interview that you think is relevant to your potential employment there. Otherwise, just say thanks if you do send an email.
posted by KinoAndHermes at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2014

If you deal with this directly, you will draw attention to it and make it into much more of a thing than it was.

If you get a call back, shake hands when the opportunity arises naturally at the beginning of the interview to demonstrate that you are not a germaphobe who doesn't touch other people, on the off chance they were wondering. Otherwise, don't worry about it.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2014

The interviewers rank higher than you in this scenario. Therefore, they are the ones who should have offered you their hands to shake.

If they did offer you their outstretched hands and you just walked out and ignored them, BURN. You actively insulted them.

If not, you were perfectly correct.
posted by tel3path at 3:14 PM on October 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Don't sweat it--not even one little bit.
I've interviewed multiple candidates in one day and I wouldn't be able to tell you that day which interviewees shook my hand and which didn't!
Part of the equation is geography--sometimes the interview table is large and getting up to shake a hand is cumbersome. So, if the candidate doesn't walk around the side and offer a hand then a handshake may not happen.
posted by calgirl at 4:01 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

If they want you, it's no big deal. If they don't, it's as good a reason as any.
posted by box at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2014

it is not a big deal at all. a gentleman never offers his hand to a lady, he waits for the lady to offer hers, and it's up to her to offer it or not, and he maintains good humor and aplomb no matter what.
posted by bruce at 8:22 PM on October 17, 2014

Response by poster: I appreciate all of the responses. I'm glad it's not a big deal and I really need this job so hopefully they liked me enough. I forgot to send a thank you email and reminded by someone upthread, I did just that. Now it's a waiting game to see if it's in the cards, but I'll rest easy knowing lack of a handshake is a non-issue.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:08 AM on October 18, 2014

Best answer: I wasn't going to disagree with another poster, but since I see you've marked it as a favorite, I just want to note that the social rules of handshaking do not apply in the business world. Almost any rule of etiquette that involves ladies being treated differently from gentlemen doesn't apply in business settings, where treating women as delicate creatures who need the aid and protection of their gentlemen companions is obviously problematic.

In this setting, the interviewer should have offered you their hand, as they were the higher authority person in the interaction.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:42 AM on October 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I wanted to update with me getting the job and starting on Monday! I got called back for two other interviews and I remembered to shake hands at the end and everything went really well. I was told that because I impressed the other interviewers and the fact that I had gone back so many times showed that I was a serious candidate and truly wanted to work at the organization. Thanks Mefi!
posted by lunastellasol at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

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