YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
WHEN GREETING AN INTERVIEW PANEL OF MEN AND WOMEN, INCLUDING PEOPLE OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DESCENT, IS IT APPROPRIATE TO SHAKE HANDS WITH THEM?
DARREN BUCHANAN MANAGING DIRECTOR, HAYS QUEENSLAND
Greetings vary across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our advice is to greet everyone on the interview panel with an offer to shake their hand – but don’t feel slighted if a handshake is not offered in return. A colleague, who is of Aboriginal descent, told me that she offers to shake hands at the start of a business meeting in all bar two situations. The first is when someone senior to her is also in the meeting. In this case, she looks to them to give the greeting cue and follows their lead. The second is when a person is introduced or presented to her as Uncle or Aunty.
SINEAD HOURIGAN BRISBANE DIRECTOR, ROBERT WALTERS
I think it is always important to ensure you make a positive first impression at an interview.
It is really important for candidates to demonstrate consistency with their approach when greeting an interview panel.
Although there may be slightly different customs for different ethnicities, you may find that you create more confusion if you choose to approach each individual panel member differently.
The safest approach is provide a firm handshake, look them directly in the eye and smile.
JULIE FORD SENIOR EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT, McARTHUR
In a panel interview, it is accepted and expected you will shake the hand of all the panel members. Maintain good eye contact, use a firm grip and make sure your palms are dry. If greeting members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait descent, appropriate customs may include lowering your eyes to avoid eye contact with older people or authority figures, avoiding body contact such as friendly touching, jostling or touching the upper torso or arm. Most importantly, shake hands only if initiated by the other party and always use formal addresses when talking to chairpersons and persons of authority.
DR NERIDA HILLBERG DIRECTOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, FERRIS MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS
My understanding is that you should offer to shake hands with everyone. Some Aboriginal women may not accept and you must respect this. Importantly, be mindful of prolonged eye contact. Typically in an interview, this is a good thing, however, it can be perceived as aggressive and offensive by some people of ATSI descent. It’s good practice to address the panel as Mr or Mrs, particularly if dealing with ATSI elders. We must respect all of the appropriate customs, traditions, and social mores. First impressions are vitally important.