For some job promotions, you'll need to be prepared to interview for the position. When you're interviewing for a newly opened, vertical position or for an internal job promotion with your current employer, many of the questions you will be asked are standard interview questions that all candidates are expected to answer. But there are some nuances to interviewing at a company where you're already employed.
Here are examples of questions asked during an interview for a promotion, with tips for responding, and advice on how to make the best impression.
How To Demonstrate Why You're The Best Candidate
When External Candidates Are Being Considered
If a vertical position on the career ladder at your company opens, find out from your Human Resources department whether management plans to fill the position internally, or whether they plan to seek external candidates. If it's the latter, then you need to be prepared to demonstrate how your history with the employer makes you a more desirable candidate than someone they might recruit from outside the company.
When the Job Is Being Filled Internally
If, on the other hand, it is clear that the job will be filled internally, then your challenge will be to persuade the hiring committee that you are the most qualified of your peers for this job promotion.
This will take some finesse—while you definitely will want to highlight your contributions, be careful not to throw your colleagues “under the bus” in an interview.
You’ll still have to work with these individuals—and possibly even manage them—if you land the job promotion, so be careful how you answer any questions that ask you to compare yourself to others in line for promotion.
Keep in mind that you are not trying to prove that you are “better” than other candidates. Rather, you are trying to show that your own unique experience with the employer and your professional competency make you the best person to assume the responsibilities that come with this promotion.
Job Promotion Interview Questions
The big day has arrived, and you’re ready to shine in front of the interviewing committee. When interviewing for a job promotion, here are some specific questions related to the company, your role within the company, and the job you are applying for that you can expect to be asked:
- What do you like best about your current position at the company?
- What was your biggest success story in the XYZ department?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Can you tell me what you know about the position you are being considered for? How about our team?
- Why do you want the new position?
- Why should we consider you for this promotion?
- If we were to ask the people in your department to describe you, which adjectives would they use?
- Are you the best candidate for promotion? Why?
- What training will you need to be successful in this position?
- How will you handle it if you don't get the promotion?
- How, if we promoted you, would you deal with those of your colleagues who had been passed up for promotion?
- If you were promoted, when would you expect your next promotion?
- If you were promoted, what would you seek to accomplish in your first three months in this role?
Think Through Examples You Can Share
Take some time to think, before the interview, about specific examples you can use to show (rather than just tell) how you would be the employer’s ideal choice for a coveted promotion. There are some things, of course, that are obvious strengths – a solid length of tenure or a continuing record of outstanding annual work evaluations, for example.
It’s also good to think of specific instances where you’ve demonstrated team leadership, “out of the box” thinking, project coordination, or people management skills that you will need in your new role if you're promoted.
How to Ace the Interview
Most likely, you can skip company research prior to an internal job interview since you're already familiar with it. However, that does not mean this interview will be easy. Don't assume you'll get the promotion simply because you are a current employee. Below are some tips to help you perform well during a job promotion interview:
Use Your Insider Advantage When You Respond
Remember, you already work for the company. Differentiate yourself from the competition when you are competing with external candidates by mentioning your company-specific experience, knowledge, and skills when you answer the interview questions.
It's also important to give examples of successful accomplishments and projects, the goals you've met, and your achievements in your current position.
Don't Fail to Prepare
It's easy to feel overconfident with an internal interview. But you should still take the time to review the "standard" interview questions that you will most likely be asked. You should also bring a copy of your resume to the interview and be prepared to speak about your entire job history.
Dress for Success
You do not necessarily have to wear your typical interview outfit, but do make sure to dress professionally. Here's a good rule of thumb: Dress to match what the people interviewing you typically wear to the office.
Make a Good Impression
The interview isn't your only opportunity to make a case for your candidacy. Unlike other people interviewing for the position, you can prove yourself on the job. Be a model employee during the weeks when your company is interviewing candidates. Show off your abilities and skills (and be sure not to come in late!).
Write a Thank-You Letter
Yes, you should still write a thank-you letter, even though the interview was internal. First, whether you get the promotion or not, it's nice to be considered, and that's worthy of a thank you.
And, as with any interview-related thank-you note, your letter is an opportunity to sell your candidacy and highlight any important points you neglected to mention during the interview.
Preparation matters. Don't get too cocky, just because you may know the interviewer well, or feel comfortable with the company's needs and expectations. Take time to prepare beforehand, practicing your answers to common questions.
Don't get too competitive. It's possible that several internal candidates may apply. Be prepared for the potential outcome that you won't get the promotion, and avoid bad-mouthing colleagues throughout the interview process. Be tactful about pointing out problems that need solving too, since you don't want to offend interviewers.
Follow interview protocol. That means treating interviewers politely, coming prepared to the interview, wearing professional attire, and even sending a thank-you note.