How To Prepare for a Promotion Interview With 7 Tips

Updated February 3, 2023

Completing a promotion interview successfully can allow you to earn a raise, take on a leadership role and advance your career at the company where you currently work. 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. Learning more about preparing for this type of interview may help you perform well and advance your career. 

In this article, we share seven tips to help you to prepare for a promotion interview and provide practice questions with sample answers so you can practice and pursue your career goals effectively.

What is a promotion interview?

Also known as an internal interview, a promotion meeting occurs when you’re an in-house candidate for a higher or different position within an organization. Many organizations prefer to hire internal candidates because they are already familiar with the company, including:

  • Mission

  • Culture 

  • Expectations

  • Goals 

  • Processes

Similarly, an organization may already know your abilities and strengths if you’re already a team member. 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. 

Related: What You Need To Know About Job Promotions

7 tips to help you prepare for an internal interview

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

1. Talk with your supervisor

Before starting the internal interview process, tell your supervisor about your application. Having a private conversation with your manager can ensure 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 may be helpful in the interview. They might also provide additional tips and context for you to succeed.

Related: 27 Do’s and Don’ts for How To Talk To Your Boss

2. Research the position

To prepare for your interview, research every aspect of the position. While every candidate can read the job description, you have access to more in-depth information as an internal candidate. You can:

  • Inquire with the human resources department about the organizational structure of the department 

  • Talk with the hiring committee about expectations for the role

  • Ask the person leaving the position about their responsibilities, challenges and accomplishments

Doing all of this may help you better understand the expectations in the role before you go into the interview.

Related: How To Research Career Paths in 8 Steps (With Benefits)

3. Make a list of your skills

To position yourself as the best candidate for the job, focus on 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. 

Consider introducing 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’re taking the opportunity seriously.

Related: 120 Essential Skills To List on a Resume

4. Consider your improvements

As an internal candidate, you may prepare to address any mistakes or challenges from your time in your current position. Taking responsibility and demonstrating a strong sense of accountability may be helpful. Then, you can focus the conversation on what you’re learning from those challenges and examples of improvements that are evident in your current role.

Related: What Is a Promotion Letter? Importance, Example and Tips

5. Ask how others perceive you

Before your interview, take time to research your reputation at work. You can start by asking coworkers and managers in your department and the company how they perceive your abilities. Make a list of any relevant strengths they mention and include them in discussing 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 questions about your leadership abilities or your coworker doubts your communication capabilities, prepare examples that focus on your mastery of these skills.

Related: 18 Reasons You Deserve To Be Promoted

6. Discover the STAR method

Try to use the STAR method to answer behavioral interview questions. This is an acronym that stands for:

  • Situation

  • Task

  • Action

  • Result

When you use this method, it can help you provide an answer with a clear structure. You might begin by providing a situational example, then describe your task-relating goals that relate to the situation. Next, describe the action you took and the results of that action.

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

7. Use role play to practice

Before your interview, consider asking a friend or peer to help you prepare by role-playing the interview. Your peer can act as the interviewer and prepare common interview questions. This can help you prepare to answer questions you’re hearing for the first time, just as you might in the real interview. 

Related: Job Interview: Practicing Your Answers and Presentation

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. To prepare effective answers, use the following examples of top internal interview questions:

1. Why do you want to change roles or departments?

Whether you’re applying for a lateral move to another department or a higher position on your current team, you should prepare to explain why you want the promotion. Focus your answer on the contributions you plan to make and the positive benefits you may 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 position, I’ve 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’s 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?

2. How are you different from other candidates?

If your interviewers ask you to distinguish yourself from other candidates, you can take this opportunity to highlight your accomplishments and outline your goals for the new position. You might treat the situation as if your interviewers are unaware of the details of your contributions because they might be. Consider using numbers and data to quantify your achievements. Discuss your unique skill set, and explain why it’s 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 project management experience and strong problem-solving skills would allow me to continue making valuable contributions.”

Read more: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers

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

To ensure you understand the job and are ready 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 may set, the teamwork initiatives you might start and the ways you could measure success.

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


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