Don't go to your job promotion interview unprepared.

You have a shot at a promotion — congrats! But now you realize that you actually need to interview for the position. No problem, right? You've interviewed for a lot of jobs before; is interviewing for a promotion any different?

The answer: Yes, it is different, and you need to be prepared.

What is a job promotion interview?

A job promotion interview is an interview for a position within the company you currently work that is a notch or two higher than your current position. This means that a promotion interview is an internal interview. Most likely, the people who are hiring for the position are familiar with both you and your work already. If they are not, they are connected to those who do. 

This can be both a benefit and a challenge for you. On one hand, they already know what you have brought to the company; your strengths are on display every day. On the other hand, you may have to work harder than outside applicants to prove that you have more to bring to the table than what they already know. Therefore, it's essential that you prepare for this interview and come ready to convince the interviewers that you are the right candidate.

6 tips for acing your promotion interview

1. Consider every workday a part of your interview

Once you know that you're interested in interviewing for the position, consider every workday a part of your interview process. While external candidates may have an hour or two to state their case, you and your work will be on display every day. Assume that you're being watched and under scrutiny at all times and use that to your advantage. This is your time to shine and showcase why you're the right fit.

2. Talk to your supervisor

There are a number of reasons why you'll want to be upfront with your supervisor right away and let them know that you intend on interviewing for the promotion. It's the professional thing to do, and your supervisor should respect that. A good boss should also be willing to help you be as prepared as you can for the process. They may know more about the position than just what is posted. Also, they can give you feedback on your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Look over your past reviews

Speaking of strengths and weaknesses, your past performance reviews are your official record. Look over them carefully. What are some of your accomplishments and strengths? What issues have you had to address, and how did you address them? You can be certain that the interviewer will have this information, so you'll want to be ready to talk about it.

4. Have your resume and cover letter polished

Don't assume that just because this is an internal position you won't have to jump through the standard hoops. Think of your resume as your opportunity to list out the things that they may not already know about your professional accomplishments and experiences. 

Not sure if your resume is ready to help you get to this next step? Our sister site, TopResume, can help. Learn more about their services here.

5. Research the position

Look over the job posting closely. You want to have a thorough understanding of the position so that in the interview, you can tell them exactly what experience and skills you bring to the table that will make you a great fit. You want to prove to them that you're not just looking for a bigger paycheck, but a chance to shine.

6. Convince them of the value of promoting you

If you absolutely rock in your current position, they may be hesitant to move you away from it. Part of your challenge is to sell them on the idea that you will be an even bigger asset to the company in the new role, which you can do by learning as much about the position as you can.

Sample questions to prepare for your promotion interview

“What do you enjoy most about working here in your current position?”

This is your opportunity to show that you like and understand your company outside of your individual role, while also bragging about what you do in your current role. You can talk about company culture, important objectives, and how you see the company progressing in the future.

Sample answer: I love that our company is on the cutting edge of technology and that we're helping to make a real difference in people's lives. As a marketing coordinator, I've been able to help the company reach its core audience and increase profits. It's easy, too, because I believe that what we offer really helps our clients.

“What has been your biggest success in your current role?”

Now it's time to zero in on one shining moment, focusing on something you accomplished that helped the company or your department reach its goals. It will be even more effective if it is a skill that you can bring to the new position.

Sample answer: About a year ago, our sales had tabled off a bit. I asked my boss if we'd ever thought of marketing to middle schools directly; we hadn't tried that at all. I put together a marketing plan to get our information in front of over 1,000 decision makers at middle schools around the country and helped to open up a brand new market for us.

“Why do you want to leave your current role?”

Does this smell like a trap? It can be. While you may be itching to leave your current role or department for reasons of your own, you want to put the focus on the opportunity at hand.

Sample answer: I've loved working in recruiting, but I also have a strong background in compensation, and I feel very strongly that now is a good time for me to make that move. I've helped to make my team one of the most successful in the company, and I believe that I have the skills, experience, and ideas to do the same for compensation.

“Why should we consider you for this promotion?”

Your answer to this question should take two parts. First, briefly talk about your success in your current role. Then, talk about the new role and what you will bring to it every day. This is your chance to show them that you truly understand the role and have what it takes to be great.

Sample answer: While I'm sure that there are a lot of great applicants, I believe that I am the right fit for this job. I've consistently surpassed my goals in my current position over the past two years and helped to make my department one of the most successful in our branch. If I were to get promoted, I would be able to utilize this experience, plus other knowledge, to do the same for my new department. I've already started researching ideas that I think could help the bottom line, like [XYZ idea].

“What would you do in your first 30 days in the new role?”

Your interviewer wants to know that you are ready for the promotion. For this question, you want to let them know that you have ideas, but that you will also fit in with the current team.

Sample answer: First, I would want to go over the quarterly goals with my new supervisor and understand how the team is striving to reach them. Then, I would get to work finding ways to improve or make changes. I want to understand how they work before implementing any big changes, but once we get everyone on the same page, we can streamline our processes to reach our goals even faster.

“How do you differ from other candidates?”

This question is designed to give you a chance to say why you are the ideal candidate for the position, even if the competition is steep.

Sample answer: As a nine-year employee of this company, I understand the challenges that we face on a day-to-day basis. I can offer new ideas and new solutions with a full understanding of what we've already tried. Also, I've had my eye on this department for a long time, and I think my skill set is a perfect fit for the position.

Don't assume you will get the promotion “just because”

While being an internal candidate may have you thinking that you've got the inside track, you can't assume that you're a shoo-in. Instead, assume that you will be held to an even higher standard than any outside applicant. Do your research, prepare fastidiously, and go into that promotion interview ready to show them why you are the best choice for the job. 

If you want a little practice or need help getting ready for your interview, TopInterview's expert coaches can give you an edge on the competition. 

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