Preparing for a Promotional Interview: It’s Never Too Soon to Start
If you want to be promoted to a higher organizational level or move into a specific area of work, start preparing for it long before management announces an opening. Rather than preparing just for the interview, prepare for the position and the work, then let that preparation show in your interview or other testing.
It is true that some in-house interviews are not optimally objective and do not identify the person best suited for the role or task. However, often that accusation is a way to justify not getting the position. One thing is for sure; If being selected based on an interview is the only way to move ahead, you will simply have to hope that the interviewer (s) and interview questions, give you chances to show your best self—then, take advantage of the opportunities.
The first step is to review your career and what you have done in your current work assignment and see how you have demonstrated your readiness for the position you seek. That will help you prepare for two questions that probably will not be spoken, but if provided anyway, will help you stand out from the others:
1. “So what?” This is what interviewers are thinking when you give a list of your career accomplishments. You know you have worked hard and have done several significant things, but the interviewers may need to be told how those things link to the position you seek.
As you discuss the most significant things you have done, link it to the position you seek: “That project taught me a lot about scheduling and time management. I can apply it if I’m chosen for the Team Leader position, by helping team members develop their own skills in that area and by being more effective than I would have been without the project experiences.” One candidate was disarmingly honest and said, several times, “Here is how I’ll use that, if I’m promoted.” There was no question in the minds of the interviewers that he had given it some thought.
2. “Why should we believe you?” This is essentially, “Can you prove it?” It is what interviewers are thinking when you say you will be effective in the new work or that you are a great team player or will be committed to the goals of the manager, or whatever you say you will do and be. Can you prove it by what you have done in your current work? One anecdote to show how you work and what you can be depended upon to do, is worth a dozen unsubstantiated promises.
After the most significant things you promise or state, see if you can provide an example. “Yes, I’m very committed to our company’s values in that area. For example………….” Or, “I know I can adjust to the new software, because….”
Be preparing, all the time. The answers to both of those unspoken questions have to be in-progress all the time–almost from the day you are hired. You can cram facts and knowledge but you cannot cram experiences, accomplishments, reputation and proven skills–those are developed over time.
Not all promotional processes involve an interview, some involve a review of your work or a review of a package you prepare about your work. Many employees discover they do not have as much to offer as they thought they did. They waited until an opening was announced to start preparing to get promoted. If you genuinely have been interested in the job or promotion, you will have done something in your current work that shows it. Find that something, then look for opportunities to let the interviewers know about it. If they never give you the opportunity, be prepared with a closing statement that covers some of it. When they ask, “Do you have anything else you would like to add?,” be ready!