How To Prepare for a Promotion Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 28, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated July 28, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How to Ask for a Promotion and Level Up in Your Career

Sinead will let you know the 6 steps to asking for a promotion, from negotiating your salary to figuring out if it's even the right time to ask.

Completing a promotion interview successfully can allow you to earn a raise, take on a leadership role and advance your career within your current company. Although this type of meeting might appear similar to a standard job interview with a new company, an in-house conversation often requires special preparation. In this article, we discuss how to get ready for a promotion interview so you can pursue your career goals effectively.

What is a promotion interview?

Also known as an internal interview, a promotion meeting occurs when you are an in-house applicant for a higher position or a different position within your organization. Many organizations prefer to hire internal candidates because they already know the company’s mission, expectations, goals and processes. Similarly, your organization should already be familiar with your abilities and strengths. Due to this preexisting knowledge, internal job interviews often place higher expectations on candidates and may involve more challenging conversations. Planning how to demonstrate your experience and practicing answers to common questions can help you prepare for an internal interview. 

How to prepare for an internal interview

Here are five essential promotion interview tips to help you prepare:

1. Talk with your supervisor

Before starting the internal interview process, find a time to tell your supervisor about your application. Having a private conversation with your manager ensures that they learn about your goals from you rather than from the hiring committee. By initiating this conversation, you can also assess how your supervisor considers your contributions to the department, which will be helpful in the interview. They might also be able to provide additional tips and context for you to succeed.

2. Research the position

To prepare for your interview, research every aspect of the position. Every candidate can read the job description, but as an internal applicant, you have access to more in-depth information. You can inquire with the human resources department about the organizational structure of the department or talk with the hiring committee about expectations for the role. You may want to ask the person leaving the role about their responsibilities, challenges and accomplishments so you can better understand what will be expected of you in the role before you go into the interview.

3. Make a list of your skills

To position yourself as the best candidate for the job, highlight the skills and experience you can contribute to the role. Try to tailor your list of skills to the job description, and use examples and data from your current role to support your discussion. It is a good idea to introduce yourself as if you were an unknown external candidate to give your interviewers a clear understanding of the benefits of hiring you and to show that you are taking the opportunity seriously.

4. Consider how you have improved

As an internal candidate, you should be prepared to address any mistakes you’ve made or the challenges you’ve encountered in your current position. It is good to take responsibility and demonstrate a strong sense of accountability. Then, you can focus the conversation on what you learned from the situation and how you improved in your current role.

5. Ask how others perceive you

Before your interview, you should take time to research your reputation at work. You can start by asking coworkers and managers in your department and throughout the company how they perceive your abilities. Make a list of any relevant strengths they mention and include them in the discussion of your skills and contributions. Consider any weaknesses that arise, and think about how you can address them in the interview. For example, if your manager has questioned your leadership or your coworker has doubted your communication capabilities, be prepared to bring up examples that highlight your mastery of these skills.

Promotion interview question examples

In addition to specific questions about the job and your experience, you can expect to receive a few common questions during a promotion interview. Try to use the STAR method to answer behavioral interview questions by outlining the situation, task, action and result in your answers. To prepare effective answers, use the following examples of top internal interview questions:

Why do you want to change roles or departments?

Whether you are applying for a lateral move to another department or a higher position on your current team, you should be prepared to explain why you want the promotion. Strive to focus your answer on the contributions you plan to make and the positive benefits you would likely bring rather than mentioning any dissatisfaction with your current role. You should also include reasons why the role you’re applying for aligns with your professional goals and desired career path.

Example answer: “After three years in my current position, I have learned so much about how to succeed in the industry. In this new role, my leadership skills would guide our team effectively, and I could contribute even more to the company’s client acquisition goals. It is also a personal passion of mine to support and mentor others—this role is a perfect fit as it includes management responsibilities.”

Read more: Interview Question: “Why Are You Interested in This Position?”

How are you different from other candidates?

If your interviewers ask you to distinguish yourself from other applicants, you can take this opportunity to highlight your accomplishments and outline your goals for the new position. You should treat the situation as if your interviewers are unaware of the details of your contributions, because they might be, and use numbers and data to quantify your achievements. Discuss your unique skill set, and explain why it is optimal for the new role.

Example answer: “In my current role, my initiatives have streamlined the department’s workflow and increased profits by 5%. In a senior role, my experience with project management and my strong problem-solving skills would allow me to continue to make valuable contributions.”

Read more: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers

What would you do during your first 30 days in this role?

To ensure that you understand the job and that you are prepared for the position, your interviewers may ask what you plan to accomplish in your first month in the new role. Consider discussing the goals you would set, the teamwork initiatives you would start and the ways you would measure success.

Example answer: “In my first 30 days, I would clarify short and long-term goals with my supervisor and use these objectives to create a plan for my team. I would also evaluate the team’s current workflows and make recommendations for more efficient processes.”

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