How To Ace A “One-On-One” Interview – A Complete Guide

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A one-on-one interview forms an integral part of almost every recruitment process. In fact, most processes involve multiple rounds of such interviews. And rightly so! A one-on-one interview is one the best way for a recruiter to not only evaluate your knowledge and skillset but also gauze weather you fit in for the role or not.

At the same time, it is also an excellent opportunity for the candidate as well to put forward the best of himself/herself and convert the opportunity.

One-on-one interviews can be of different kinds, depending upon the seniority of the position and the kind of role being offered. There can be informal interactions, skype interviews, technical interviews, HR rounds and so on. Regardless, each interview is an opportunity to completely transform your career trajectory. Therefore, it is extremely important to be prepared not just to face, but ace all kinds of interviews.

Notwithstanding the importance of interview in a recruitment process, most candidates have some fear or the other in facing interviews. A part of it emerges from the whole hysteria built around facing an interview, but a major part comes from a genuine lack of preparation and lack of guidance. Not any more! In this post, I share with you a complete step-by-step guide and some pro-tips towards excelling in all kinds of interviews.

The secret behind acing one-on-one interviews lies in understanding the fact that the interview is just like any other interaction, but in a stimulating and professional environment. The interviewer just needs to know you, the real you. So what you have to do? Just be the best version of the person you are, and you will certainly land the role if you are meant for it! This guide is all about how to be the best version of yourself’.

7 steps, Which will bring the best out of you, ensuring that you never fail in an interview

1. Know as Much as Possible About the Company, the Role & the Interviewer

The first step towards an excellent interview is equipping yourself with all the basic information about the prospect.

Starting from the obvious facts about the company, the specific and not-so-obvious information, you should be knowing it all to impress the interviewer. Do a thorough research and gather all the important information concerning the company through various sources, including the ‘About Us’ section of the company website, to its career portal and the annual reports.

Checklist – things to know about the company:

  • Mission & Vision of the company
  • Core Values of the company
  • Names and designations of the key people (CEO, CFO, Chairman, etc.)
  • Key years, facts & figures (like revenue, key markets, etc.)
  • Recent developments in the company

Secondly, be very clear about the role in the company that you are interviewing for. Go through the job responsibilities shared with you, and see how you fit in. If possible, try to talk to an employee in a similar role to have a better understanding of the role.

Finally, know your interviewer well. Remember the name of the interviewer, their professional background, and interests. With social media at your respite, it has never been easier! Isn’t it?

Pro Tip – You may not always be asked about all of this information directly. But try to weave it into the answers you give. This will reflect well on you and in a subtle manner, convey your genuine interest company and the role.

2. Be Ready with Answers to the Standard Questions

Interviews are, no doubt, about spontaneous reactions to spontaneous questions/situations. But there is always a set of standard questions that come up in most interviews, and preparing answers to them in advance can be of great help. Knowing the answers to these questions not only boosts your confidence but also lets you come up with interesting and measured answers, giving you greater control over how the interview flows.

Here are some such ‘Standard Interview Questions’, answers to which you can prepare in advance:

  • Tell us something about yourself (that is not in your resume)/Give an introduction
  • What are strengths and/or weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years?
  • Why do you want to work in this company/role?
  • Why should we select you?/ What differentiates you from the other candidates?

3. Remember that Your Resume is the Interviewer’s Resource Book

Your resume is a document that forms your first impression in the interviewer’s mind, and also acts as a reference point to ask questions during the interview. Believe it or not, but your resume is going through by the interviewer several times before interviewing you in person. And many of his/her questions will come directly from what and how you have mentioned there. Therefore, make sure that you are able to justify all points mentioned in the resume.

Most of the times, the interviewer is looking for real examples/instances from your life to decide whether you are a good fit for the role or not. Therefore, try back your resume pointers with such examples/ instances.

For example, if you have mentioned in your resume that you are a good decision-maker, the interviewer might ask you for a recent instance where you made a difficult decision. The same thing goes for your professional experiences/qualifications as well. If your resume says that you know how to use MS-Excel, it is highly likely that you will be asked to quote a project where you used the tool.  

The point here is that whatever you mention in your resume, back it up and justify it.

4. Identify the Probable Cross-Questions in Advance

Beyond the standard inquiries, 90% of the interview questions originate either from the interviewer’s own mind (the ones which he/she needs to ask anyway) or from your own responses to the standard questions asked. Given this fact, you can practically foresee the various directions in which your interview might lead.

The catch here is to be a step ahead of the interviewer, and identifying the probable cross-questions in advance, and prepare answers for them as well. This exercise will make you psychologically ready for the cross-questions, and prevent you from sticking at any point in the interview.

For example, if at some point you tell that you like watching TED talks, the interviewer might ask for your favorite TED talks. Make sure that you know them! In another instance, if you plan to mention the name of the city you belong to/have lived in/are currently living in, be ready for a question on the history, geography, and politics of the city! It’s not too much to expect! Is it?

5. Carry Yourself Rightly – Your Body Language Tells it All

Interviews are more than just the answers you give. And the interviewer is meant to observe you beyond your intelligent answers. The way you carry yourself in front of the interviewer is of great importance and can make or break an interview for you.

Starting from the point you enter into the interview room, to the point you take the interviewer’s leave, you need to be pitch-perfect with your body language. Guess what, companies these days have started observing you even before you enter the interview room (CCTV camera does the trick). Yes, they do that! Now you understand the importance of body language?

Here are some pro-tips to be well off with your appearance & body language for an interview:

  • Make sure you dress uprightly for the occasion. It reflects upon your professionalism and sincerity.
  • Make sure to seek permission before entering the room, and with the interviewer.
  • Walk-in straight (without making any noise) and sit upright throughout the interview to reflect attentiveness.
  • Be particular with your hand movements. It is not a debate, so try not to move your hands very often during the interview.
  • Try not to fumble. It’s okay to take a few seconds and build an answer before speaking. Think, then speak.
  • Most importantly, always wear a subtle smile on your face, that’s the best look you can give them!

6. Prepare Some Relevant Questions to Ask the Interviewer

In most interviews, the interviewer will ask for any questions that you might be having for him/her, towards the end of the interview. Try to come up with some interesting questions, instead of having none. (Your research about the company will come into play here!)

Some of the questions you might ask the interviewer:

  • In what areas the company is looking to expand/ latest developments in the company
  • About the news that you recently read about the company
  • About the work culture of the company
  • When can you expect the results of the interviewer?

7. Do Not Forget to Follow up the Interview with a Thank You Mail

You may get overboard after delivering an impressive interview following the above tips, and give yourself a pat on the back. Well, you have all the reasons to do so! But make sure to do one final step before treating yourself up for the smashing show. Thank the interviewer/your point of contact for their time and attention. This can be in the form of a short and crisp email, or maybe a thank-you message on LinkedIn. Just make sure you do it.

Warning: Remember that the interview is over now, so no need to stake the claims any further. It’s just a thank-you message, so let it be that only!

Converting any interview opportunity into a selection/ job offer is a dependent 99% on preparation and your skillset, and on a streak of luck as well. The best part though is that you have full control over the 99%. And if you work well on what is in your hands, the odds will always be in your favor.

All the best!

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