How To Successfully Interview for a Job Promotion

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Promotions aren't always automatic. With some employers, you may need to interview for the next step on the career ladder. It depends on the organizational structure and company policy.

Interviewing at your current employer may feel strange, but it can be an opportunity to show the hiring manager why you’re the most qualified candidate for the job. Especially if you’ve been working in your present role for a long time, you may need to help them envision you in a new position.

Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for a job promotion interview.

Key Takeaways

  • Some employers require internal candidates to interview for a job promotion.
  • Job promotion interviews may be tougher because the bar is higher for current employees than for external candidates.
  • Be prepared to submit your resume and a custom cover letter for the role.
  • Prepare for the job interview by practicing interview questions and answers, highlighting your strengths, and continuing to do your job well.

What Is a Job Promotion Interview?

A job promotion interview is an interview for a promotion or a different job at your current employer. Many companies require internal candidates to go through a similar hiring process as external candidates for employment.

A job promotion interview is different from a job interview for a new position for several reasons:

  • You are already part of the company, and you know what their expectations are.
  • Every day—before and after the interview—will give you an opportunity to show off your abilities while working in your current position.
  • You can use your already established commitment to the company, and your aspirations to grow within it, to your benefit.

On the flip side, you still need to go through an interview process and will be compared with other candidates for the job, possibly external as well as internal candidates.

Note

Your interview may be tougher than those for external candidates, because of expectations about what you know, and your skills may be higher.

Employer Promotion Company Policies

Employers may ask you to interview for a promotion in order to create a level playing field for all candidates. Poor HR practices like inequitable promotion policies can cause dissatisfaction, leading to turnover from those who were passed over. Companies can even open themselves to discrimination claims if employees believe they were discriminated against based on protected characteristics like age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Don’t expect promotions to come automatically, even if you’ve been with the company for a while. Prepare for the interview as you would for any other new job opportunity.

Job Promotion Application Requirements

When applying for a promotion or a lateral job change within the company, employees may be expected to apply and interview for the position per company guidelines.

Even though you're already employed at the company, don't be surprised if you have to resubmit your resume and craft a cover letter for the new position. In fact, submitting a custom cover letter specific to the new position can be very helpful in landing the job.

Note

Remember, you may be competing with external candidates, and although you have an advantage in that you already work for the company, that doesn't mean you should skimp on your job application efforts. Take the time to review and proofread your application materials carefully before you submit them.

Tips for Before the Job Promotion Interview

Pay attention to the hiring process. When you find out there is a job opportunity you're interested in, follow the application instructions. Don't expect to be able to bypass the company's hiring process to get the job. If the company has rules, they still apply.

Prepare for the interview. Review common job promotion interview questions and answers, and consider how you would respond, based on your knowledge of the company, your current job, the new position, your skills, and your goals for the future. Look at the job description for the role and highlight the skills you have that make you qualified for the new job. 

Do your job well. Even though you may be moving on, continue to do your current job well, to remind your superiors about what a great employee you are.

Tell your boss. If you get selected for an interview, tell your current supervisor so they don't hear the news from a third party. Explain why you're applying and ask your boss for their support.

Prepare for the promotion. Prepare to pass your current job on to someone else. If your goal is to continue moving up in the company, leaving a mess behind can reflect poorly on you. Offer to assist with training and be available for questions.

During the Job Promotion Interview

Stay professional. Even though you know the company and you may even know the interviewer, do not lose your professional attitude. It's important not to come across as too casual and relaxed. Show the interviewer that you want the job and have what it takes to succeed in the new role.

Highlight your strengths. Your strengths may include your familiarity with the position and the company, the success you have had in your current position, and the commitment you feel toward making the company as successful as possible.

Remember you don't know everything. Be prepared to talk about unfamiliar aspects of the position. Do not assume you already know the ins and outs: you may get caught off guard.

Share your enthusiasm. Be sure to let the interviewer know how much you appreciate being considered for the job and the opportunity to grow your career with the organization.

Don't be overconfident. Do not go to the interview presuming that you've already "got the job"—an overconfident attitude can be damaging.

Ask questions. If you have questions about the new position, what your role will be, and how you would transition, be sure to ask during the interview. 

Tips for After the Interview

Say thank you. Write a thank-you note to the person who interviewed you. Reiterate your interest in the new position.

Don't burn your bridges. If you get the promotion, do not burn any bridges. You will be leaving co-workers behind, possibly becoming their superior. Treat them with the same respect you did when you were working together.

Communicate with your colleagues. When the promotion is finalized, let your co-workers know that you are moving on. However, if the company is going to send an official announcement, wait until that is sent before sending a personal email message.

Don't have hard feelings. If you don't get the job, leave any negative feelings behind and work toward the next promotion opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best answer to the interview question, "Why should I promote you?"

To make the case for a promotion, come to the interview prepared to discuss how your skills and qualifications make you an ideal candidate for the new role. Emphasize keywords from the job description and demonstrate how your experience, skill set, and abilities will help you achieve the company’s goals.

What qualities will help get you promoted?

Employees who get promoted have the technical skills required for the role, but they also have soft skills like teamwork, time management, and willingness to learn. To sell the hiring manager on promoting you, be prepared to demonstrate that you understand the company’s goals and challenges, and can come up with creative solutions to problems.

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  1. SHRM. "Review Promotion Practices to Avoid Turnover, Lawsuits." Accessed May 18, 2021.

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