What Will You Do If You Don't Get This Position?

Best Answers for Interview Question About Not Getting an Internal Job

Young woman being interviewed for job position
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When you are interviewing for an internal position within your company, you may be asked what you will do if you don't get the job. The interviewer wants to know whether you are concerned about just the advancement opportunity or the company. Ideally, they want to promote a person who will continue to grow with the organization over time – and not jump ship for the next opportunity, when it arises.

It pays to ask yourself the same question before the interview and take stock of what your plans will be for the future, as well as developing a good answer. What are your long-term career goals? What job title do you hope to move into next, and where will you go from there? Which skills do you hope to gain? Can you get these things here – or will you have to move on?

How to Frame Your Answer

Of course, even if you realize that you’ll need to leave the company within the next few years, you won’t volunteer that information during the interview (whether or not you’re selected for this particular job).

Instead, when asked, "What will you do if you don't get this position?" formulate a reply that answers their concerns. Try to determine their goals, as well as your own. Then, look for areas of overlap between their goals and your long-term plans and emphasize your loyalty to the organization.

For example, they’ll want to know that you’ll support the person who gets the job, in the event that you aren’t selected.

One possible reply:

I am committed to this company and its advancement so, should I not be selected, I will work with and support whoever might get selected. However, I do feel that my experience in the department and on the team would make me the best candidate.

Note that this reply, while displaying professionalism and maturity, also takes the opportunity to remind the interviewer of your skills and aptitude for the role.

More Sample Answers

Of course, your answer will vary, depending on the position, the company, and your career plans. If you’re planning to keep looking for other vacancies at the company, you might mention that. If you want to develop certain skills or gain experience to make you a better candidate for future roles, work that into the conversation. 

Other sample answers:

  • I will continue looking in this field for another position that will fit my schedule and goals.
  • I will continue to watch for other vacancies within our company and opportunities for advancement.
  • I am exploring more training and getting further credentials to enhance my qualifications for advancement.
  • I will consider broadening my search to include some different industries hiring part-time people.
  • I feel like this would be a good fit for me, so I'm hoping I won't have to think too much about that!

Benefits of Applying for Internal Positions

Applying for an internal position is a chance to promote yourself to the interviewers and members of the selecting committee. You may have the skills and experience that your current position doesn't utilize. Your supervisor and coworkers may not be familiar with them, either. Updating your resume and presenting yourself at internal interviews is a way to advertise your untapped talent.

You may discover that the position you have applied for is not the best match, or there may be a candidate they prefer. You don't get the job that you applied for, but you have not wasted your time and effort. The interviewers will remember you when there are future openings and promotions. You may even get a request to submit your application for a job.

You might receive an offer to be detailed to fill in for a position when someone is on leave or travel, allowing you to learn a new function. It can be a stepping stone to promotion.

Drawbacks of Applying for Internal Positions

Of course, there’s a downside to applying for an internal position: if you’re not selected, you have to see the person or people who rejected you, possibly on a daily basis. That’s a very different situation from a typical job interview, where you might go the rest of your life without seeing an interviewer who chose someone else for a job.

That doesn’t mean that applying for internal jobs is a bad idea – just that you should be prepared to handle some potential awkwardness afterward. If you know you’re likely to feel demoralized if you’re not selected, for example, you’ll have to learn how to cope with your disappointment so that it doesn’t become long-term job satisfaction.

Consider how you’ll deal with your emotions if you’re not selected – and do so before you apply. You’ll have to work with the person who gets the job. Processing your feelings now will allow you to do so in a way that will impress your coworkers and help you stay in the running for future promotions.