One on one interviews are the mainstay of corporate America. Here are a few things you can use to your advantage in a one on one interview.
Stereotypes: All us have stereotypes. They are not always true but there are stereotypes for a reason. Use them to your advantage. If someone went to the University of Alabama, they probably follow Alabama football. It really helps to be observant and do your research ahead of time. If you know who you interviewing with ahead of time be sure to look them up. Where did they go to school, what is their work history, etc… This will also help with the small talk part of any interview. Just keep in mind that you are walking the line between confident and cocky / interested in them and stalking them. Saying something like “I bet things were exciting at Countrywide Financial Corporation back in 2007” sounds a lot better than “How do you feel about being part of the real estate bubble popping in 07-08?”
Horns or Halo: There is something called the horns or halo effect. You want to make the best impression as soon as possible in the interview. If they like you right off the bat the interview will likely be better for you. A seasoned interviewer may know how to mitigate this effect but the fact is that an interviewer is much more likely to hire someone they like.
Follow up: You only have to write one follow-up/thank you email so you can spend more time crafting it. ALWAYS follow-up! As I write this there are candidates whose interview outcome hinges on whether or not they follow-up with their interviewers. A well crafted email definitely helps.
Connect with them: Find some common ground; school they attended, sports teams, fashion, technology, etc… This is where it really helps to be observant especially if you are interviewing in their office. Be inquisitive: “I see you have a variable height desk, do you use it standing very often?” not “Wow, those are expensive shoes, you must do pretty well around here.”
Body language: Mirror (but not exactly) their body language. If they are sitting up straight and more formal you want to do the same. If they are more casual, then you might want to cross your legs. It is also a good suggestion to match the cadence of their speech. Don’t talk fast to a slow talker.
Ask for feedback: An interviewer is much more likely to give you some direct feedback when it is just you two in the room. Many interviewers are worried about being judged by others just like you are as a candidate. But if it is just you two, then they may be more forthcoming with information.
If you are prepared, interviews can actually be fun. Where else in life are you encouraged to talk about yourself?
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.