The Interview Handshake

So you’ve been offered an interview at one the UK’s most prestigious Medical Schools, congratulations! The only roadblock that is between you and being offered a seat as a medical student is the interview. And how do interviews start? With a handshake?

Many applicants about to step into a medical interview panic and worry about the possibility of a handshake in the interview, what to do and how to give the “perfect” handshake. Here, we discuss this mythical handshake and decide whether it is even important at all during the whole process.

In the grand scheme of an interview, a handshake lasts around 2 seconds, if it even happens at all! Many students will think a handshake is the crucial sign of confidence, and therefore pivotal to the success of their interview. In reality, it is not.

The handshake shows nothing about an individual, their character and their values in life. It is merely a greeting. There is nothing important, crucial or necessary about having a handshake in a medical interview. Many examiners may not want to shake hands with hundreds of applicants in one day (for hygiene reasons at the very least!) and so may wish to forgo the handshake altogether. This does NOT mean they do not like you.

We highly recommend allowing the interviewer to take the lead with the handshake. Some examiners may wish to shake hands as a means of breaking the ice and relaxing you as the applicant. If they do so, you can take their hand and shake. Do not overthink a handshake, you are simply clasping the other individual’s hand, and applying a small amount of pressure for one second.

Regardless of whether you shake hands or not, make sure you initiate eye contact with the individual, smile at them and greet them (“hello/hi/nice to meet you/good morning/ good afternoon”). This initiates the conversation and they may wish to start with some polite small talk, such as your journey into the Medical School, the weather or just how you are. Be open and honest, especially if you are nervous, and the examiner will help put you at ease. From there, the interview will unfold and you can be further prepared for your interview by reviewing the materials we have covered in depth about your chosen Medical School.

So all in all, the handshake is not very important! It is more important to show you are a warm, pleasant individual with a genuine interest and passion for studying medicine!