People who get hired win favor for employment offers in the first 20 seconds of their interview with this one strategy.

I bet you can’t get over the 20 seconds part to even start wondering what this strategy is – so let’s talk about the 20 seconds first – then I’ll share the strategy…

So – “the first 20 seconds” – really?  

Actually, no, not really.

It’s really in the very first second! and there’s research to back this up …

Michael Bond summarized it well in a feature he wrote for NewScientist magazine  –  Come-to-work eyes: Secrets of Interview Success

Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov at Princeton University found that showing people an unfamiliar face for just one-tenth of a second is long enough for them to form judgements about the person’s attractiveness, like-ability, trustworthiness, competence and aggressiveness. Having more time to deliberate doesn’t change our opinions, it only increases our confidence in them.”

His article further explains that of course you don’t want to rest your laurels on that first second – keep oozing out that authentic charm and warmth especially through the next 29 seconds or so – here’s why…

“Tricia Prickett, while at the University of Toledo in Ohio, found that untrained observers who watched a video of the first 20 to 30 seconds of a job interview were astonishingly accurate at predicting whether the applicant would be offered the job. That doesn’t mean the observers were especially good at picking good candidates. It means the interviewers, despite being fully trained, still go with their initial gut instinct.”

As a former head of HR who interviewed thousands of people over my 20 year corporate career – I can vouch for that!  I also think it’s safe for me to speak for the many recruiters I have known that they would also agree that this is an interviewing truth – the gut instinct reigns supreme!  If you have ever interviewed anyone I am sure you’ve experienced this gut instinct feeling yourself.   There simply is a language that transcends words when we meet people – we just know what we (immediately) sense in another.

So what will interviewers sense in you that will set you apart from other candidates – especially those who may have more credentials or experience than you?

Consider using this 1 strategy that helps people who get hired win favor for employment offers  …

Interviewing Toolkit – item #6…

Stand out! – Decide 1 way that you will be memorable AND be ready to share your story about the thing you will use to help you stand out.  Before we get to deciding what your thing will be – let’s talk about why you should have a story about it?  It’s simple…

Aside from the thing – the visual imprint – it’s your story and how you tell it that will leave the feeling impression – people love and remember stories because stories (much moreso than facts and data), directly tap into feelings.

Remember something we all learned from Maya Angelou…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Of course, you want to be sure you stand out in a good way – a way that reflects virtuous, authentic traits and personal qualities.  Remember, you must be authentic  – you don’t want to blow it with phony, boneheaded, rude or plain ‘ole disgusting behavior.

So here are two different ways that might inspire you to stand out! ….

1.  Wear something fabulous that you love, Love, LOVE that also reflects how you want to look everyday (and have a story to tell about it).  

Again, this goes to being authentic.  Growing up in NY financial services is about as conservative as it could get (at least back when I was starting out in my career) – but even there is was possible to stand out.

I once interviewed a candidate – I met her in the lobby and there she was in her beautiful navy suit, pastel blouse and kick-ass pumps – BUT – she was carrying the most awesome bright pink leather handbag.  I shook her hand, introduced myself and as we walked to my office I said “nice bag”.  Then she told me the story of how she got that bag and how much she loved the color pink.  Now I pretty much hate the color pink – but she made me love pink in that moment (actually, it had nothing to do with pink – it was her unique passion for it and her opens about it – not to mention her good storytelling ability – that I respected PLUS her willingness to bring that bag to an interview in our conservative industry – bold, risky – love it or not – it was appropriately fabulous!).

I love when I get inspired to love something about anything that I don’t usually love – and she did it – all before we arrived at my office.  About 60 seconds later we started to “talk shop” – but I was already tickled pink by her – I knew we needed her spirit in our company.  What went through my mind during our chat was “c’mon lady – don’t spit, pick at or scratch any body part I shouldn’t see in a corporate setting, burp, fart or cuss and have at least some of the skills we are looking for and I’ll be your biggest advocate to get your name on my new hire orientation list”.

She simply stood out – she shared her authentic spirit and conveyed that she would be fun, courageous, honest, open, engaging and warm – all traits we valued injecting more of into our culture. We did hire her – and she was every one of those traits and then some!  So, whatever she paid for that bag it brought her over a 6 figure return in base salary alone.

2.  Share something you are passionate about (and have a story to tell about it).  (Rephrased in a negative tone – do not be boring!)

So – think about things like what you like to do for fun or share something you recently read or saw that you love.  Even if you are not sure why you loved it – just share what inspires you.  Interviewers want to know that you are a person that can be inspired – that seeks inspiration and energy – AND that shares that spirit with others.  It gives insight into what you might be like to work with everyday – or at least, how you might influence other people to feel every day (there’s that feeling sense again).  Inspiration and energy are contagious – that could be a sign that you will make a healthy contribution to morale – convey that alone and you will win favor for sure!!  

So think about it – will you ignite fun, interest, inspiration, collaboration, kindness, inclusiveness, healthy living, beauty – what will it be??  Being passionate about something and not sharing that is the same as not being passionate at all – boring!  And no one wants to work with anyone they think will be boring (or a drain on morale).


It’s not hard to stand out – it just takes a decision to stand out, and then let the ideas flow in for how to do that in a way that ignites feelings and demonstrates that you + the company (it’s culture, people and work) are a perfect fit together.

About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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