11 Tips to Help You Succeed During a One-On-One Interview

Updated 9 July 2022

The interview stage of the hiring process allows you to discuss your experience and work philosophy in greater detail. When you have an in-person interview with a potential employer, you can further cement a positive first impression with your enthusiasm and unique personality. In addition, following some general guidelines can help you improve your chances of advancing to a job offer. In this article, we share some tips that can help you achieve success in your one-on-one interviews.

What is a one-on-one interview?

A one-on-one interview is the most commonly used interview format in several industries. In this approach to interviewing, the candidate meets with the interviewer alone, usually in a conference room or an office. The interviewer evaluates the candidate's job application, CV and cover letter and asks relevant questions. These types of interviews allow recruiters to spend time with the candidate without any interruptions and can help them determine if the candidate is the right fit for the job. Companies may also schedule a series of in-person interviews with multiple interviewers.

Read more: How to Prepare for an Interview

Tips to succeed in one-to-one interviews

Here are some tips to keep in mind to ace your next one-to-one interview:

1. Conduct some research before the interview

Before the interview, conduct research about the company, role and interviewer. Understanding critical information about the company you're interviewing with can help you face your interviewer with confidence. Use the company's website, recent press releases and social media posts to gather a good understanding of the company's vision and how you would make a great fit.

Also, remember to read the job description multiple times. Understand the specific skills employers are looking for in their candidates. Then, think about situations and experiences from your previous and current job that align with these skills and requirements.

2. Practice your answers to common interview questions

Prepare your answers to common interview questions so that you can respond quickly when the interviewer asks them. This can help you frame proper responses without too much delay and surprises during the interview process. Here are some common questions interviewers often ask during an interview:

  • Can you tell me about yourself?

  • Why do you want this job?

  • What are your strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?

  • How would your current employer and colleagues describe you?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What do you know about the company?

  • What kind of environment do you prefer to work in?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What is your work ethic?

  • How do you handle the pressure?

  • How do you handle work-related disagreements with your colleagues?

  • How did you hear about this job?

  • Do you have any questions for me?

In addition to preparing answers to these standard interview questions, you can also consider preparing some questions for the interviewer in return. This can show your interest and the amount of investment in both the position and the organisation.

Read more: Interview Question: "Why Are You Interested in This Position?"

3. Use calming techniques to feel relaxed before the interview

You can help yourself stay calm before the interview by practising stress-management techniques. Being nervous is quite normal, but try to remain as calm as you can during the interview. If you're feeling anxious, ask to visit the restroom ahead of the interview. Take a deep breath and be confident that you have prepared well for the interview. Ask for clarification if you haven't understood a particular question and take time to structure a well thought out response.

4. Develop rapport with the interviewer

One-to-one interviews are great ways to create a connection with your potential employer. Developing a strong sense of rapport with the interviewer can help you come across as a pleasant and authentic candidate. While the interviewer may ask questions for most of the meeting, you can still use each question to turn the interview into a more comfortable conversation.

Aim to connect with your interviewer while remaining professional in your mannerisms. Depending on how well your personality matches with the interviewer's, making a meaningful connection can take some time. Answer the interviewer's questions with concise responses to avoid going off-topic. Include some of your personal experiences and personality in your responses to make for a more engaging discussion. For instance, if you're interviewing for a teaching position, use an example of an endearing interaction with a former student to emphasise your points.

Read more: How to Prepare for a Behavioural Interview in 5 Steps

5. Remain professional throughout the interview

Professionalism includes practising basic workplace etiquette and following the norms of acceptable behaviour in an organisation. During an interview, the way you dress, enter the interview office, shake hands, smile and introduce yourself to the interviewer are all essential elements of professionalism. Presenting a professional approach to your interview can affect the interviewer's perception of you.

Similarly, walking with good posture, greeting other team members with a friendly smile, saying thank you to the interviewer and other basic traits of professionalism demonstrate confidence. Being on time, ideally 15 minutes early, is another way to show your potential employer your professionalism. Arrive at the location ahead of time so you can find out the exact location before the interview. If traffic is heavy in the area, prepare enough time for your commute.

6. Dress for the job

Creating a good first impression with the interviewer has an immense influence on how the interview may proceed. The way you dress for the interview can help ensure you make a positive first impression. Focus on even the slightest detail to make sure you're wearing the best outfit for the interview. Ensure your clothes fit well, and you wear simple accessories with minimal or natural makeup. It's essential to be well-groomed, and ensure your clothes are free of any holes or wrinkles.

Choose an interview outfit based on the company you're interviewing with. Do your research to understand the company's culture and whether they prefer strictly formal, business casual or just casual outfits. If you're still unsure about what to wear, check with the person who scheduled your interview to get a better idea of their typical workplace dress code.

7. Prepare for small talk

During the interview, you may find yourself interacting with the interviewer on a personal level. You can consider practising some casual conversation topics to help you feel more confident while engaging in an informal conversation. Here are some small talk tips that can help you:

  • focus on the environment you're in

  • find a mutual interest

  • compliment the interviewer on their achievements

  • remain positive and pleasant during the conversation

8. Be authentic

Interviewers aren't typically looking for the perfect response to their questions. They're usually more interested in analysing whether you can do the job well, whether you're genuinely interested in the position and if you're enjoyable to work with. Make use of your job interview as an opportunity to give the interviewer an idea of what it's like working and interacting with you regularly. While rehearsing your responses can help you prepare for a successful interview, it's best to be yourself when you meet your interviewer. Be confident, positive and assertive, but also remain sincere and authentic in what you say.

9. Give positive non-verbals

Non-verbal cues play an essential role in an interview. For instance, maintaining eye contact throughout the interview shows the hiring manager you're confident and authentic. Nodding frequently as the interviewer talks and smiling when appropriate also shows the interviewer that you're interested in what they say. Nonverbal cues often reveal your interest in the role and company.

Read more: Body Language Tips for a Job Interview

10. Ask questions

Having a list of questions to ask an interviewer makes you look engaged, interested and enthusiastic, which are all relevant qualities that employers look for in the candidates. It also gives you one last chance to further highlight your relevant qualities and experience. It's also an opportunity to learn more about the company culture, the challenges and opportunities the organisation is facing and what does it really mean to be in this role.

11. Remember to follow up

On the day following your interview, consider writing a brief email to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet you. In your email, you can reiterate the essential details mentioned during the interview, such as your enthusiasm for the role and organisation. By following up with the interviewer, you can remind them that you're a strong candidate for the job.


Explore more articles

  • A Guide to Writing a Second Interview Invitation Email
  • How to Prepare for a Board Interview: 14 Steps for Success
  • 13 Python Interview Questions With Some Sample Answers
  • 50 School Secretary Interview Questions (Plus Answers)
  • 25 Customer Service Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • Profile Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
  • 35 Social Media Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • 10 Tips to Help You Succeed in a Preliminary Interview
  • Interview Question: "How Would You Describe Yourself?"
  • Interview Question: "What Motivates You?" (With Examples)
  • Common Big Data Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them)
  • What is an Acceptable Video Interview Dress Code?