Interviewing for a job in a down market requires a different approach than you would use during a booming economy. Not only are you competing with more talent for fewer jobs, but companies are also more cautious in their hiring. You may face multiple rounds of interviews with longer wait periods between each round than you normally would. Here in Houston, some job seekers are even finding it challenging to make the leap from phone interview to in-person interview.

Previously, I’ve written about how to strengthen your resume and master the pre-interview prep. Check out these tips here: Once you’re in the room for your interview, don’t let that hard work go to waste. Here’s what to keep in mind before and after your job interview.

During the interview:

  1. Build rapport with the interviewer. Great conversation makes for a great interview. When multiple applicants have similar skill sets, the ability to build rapport with the interviewer will help you stand out. Remember, hiring managers are interested not only in your skill set but also in how well your personality will fit with the company culture.
  1. Quantify and contextualize your success. I always advise job seekers to quantify and contextualize their accomplishments on a resume, and this same recommendation applies to in-person interviews. When discussing your professional accomplishments, keep in mind that the interviewer won’t know the larger context for these successes. Growing year-on-year sales by 35 percent sounds fine. What’s really impressive? Explaining that you grew sales by 35 percent despite losing two of your top performing team members and that the industry average hovered at just 15 percent.
  2. Demonstrate industry knowledge with your answers.
    A typical interview question is, “What’s the biggest opportunity for our company or industry in the next five years?” Your answer to this question gives the hiring manager insight into your understanding of the company and industry and how you think about challenges and opportunities. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you’ve done your homework about their company and you’ve thought critically about the best path forward for their business. Finally, tie this challenge back to your previous experience and skills– how are you uniquely positioned to help this company meet challenges and embrace new opportunities moving forward?
  1. Interview to get invited back. Never qualify your interest level during the interview. Even if this position is not your top choice, always interview with the goal of being invited back.
  2. Wrap it up. When you sense the interview is coming to an end, ask about next steps, reiterate your excitement for the position, and thank the interviewer for his or her time.


After the interview…

  1. Nail the follow up. Always follow up with a thank you email the same day as the interview. Are you especially passionate about this position? While handwritten notes are not as timely as e-mails, they offer an additional touch point with the potential employer.
  2. Be prepared for a second round. Jot down a few notes after your interview including who you spoke with and what topics you discussed. Consider whether you failed to properly address any questions or if there are gaps in your professional story you still need to cover. In slower economies, the gap between interview rounds is longer and you may forget some of these details. Use these notes to jog your memory when you prepare for your next round.


Job searching in a down market is challenging. You may find yourself interviewing for a position that’s slightly below your current pay grade or experience level. Still approach this interview with the same professionalism you would for your dream job. You never know where an interview opportunity may lead.


Do you have experience interviewing in a down market? I invite you to share your interview tips below.