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Promotion interview questions and tips for answering

Promotion interview questions and tips for answering

A promotion interview is a common component of internal recruiting. Even if you're an excellent employee and have been working at the same company for years, you may need to go to an interview to get a promotion. Before your interview, consider the types of questions your employer could ask about your current position, your responsibilities, and what you can offer in a new role. Being prepared enables you to be more confident and make a good impression. Read on to learn about promotion interviews and some common promotion interview questions you can expect.

What is a promotion interview? 

A promotion interview, sometimes called an internal interview, is similar to an interview to recruit a new employee, but it's for a current worker who wants a promotion. Many companies conduct these interviews when employees apply for a new position within the organization that has more responsibilities than their current role.

Businesses often use a hiring process for promoting current employees that's similar to the one for external candidates. Promotion interviews help employers assess candidates fairly and choose the best person for a job. Your current manager may conduct your promotion interview, but the interviewer is usually another manager who doesn't work with you every day.

Preparing for a promotion interview

Getting ready for your promotion interview enables you to showcase your skills and expertise. Here are some ways to prepare:

Speak to your manager

Before you apply for a promotion, speaking to your manager has many benefits:

  • It's important for your manager to hear that you want to change roles from you instead of someone else to ensure they aren't offended.
  • Talking to your manager allows you to ask for feedback about your current work and more information relating to the job you want to apply for.
  • Your manager may be able to tell you what skills and experience the company wants for the new role.
  • Your manager might also recommend some other positions within the company that you could apply for.

Learn more about the organization and the role you want

Learning as much as possible about the role you want before your interview may improve your chances of success. Read the job listing carefully, and if possible, speak to someone in the same department who worked with the last person in that position. Reviewing your company's mission and goals on its website and being aware of new projects can also help you prepare effective responses. Finding out more about the job and refreshing your company knowledge allows you to emphasize the skills and qualifications your organization wants most.

Anticipate criticism

It's a good idea to anticipate criticism and prepare a thoughtful response. For example, if a manager said you should be more friendly to coworkers in your last performance review, you could prepare for this to come up in the interview and reply by saying you enjoy focusing on your work and that others like working with you because you're skilled and productive.

Create a list of your accomplishments

Write down any accomplishments and awards you've received in your current position and previous jobs. Then, be prepared to talk about them. For instance, you could mention how you improved your department's efficiency and increased revenue. Bring special attention to any accomplishments that relate to the new role you're applying for.

"Even if you're an excellent employee and have been working at the same company for years, you may need to go to an interview to get a promotion. Before your interview, consider the types of questions your employer could ask about your current position, your responsibilities, and what you can offer in a new role."

Common job promotion interview questions

Here are some common questions you may hear in a promotion interview, along with tips for answering them:

What do you like best about your current job?

This question helps the interviewer ensure you have a positive attitude about your current role and the company. Consider talking about how much you enjoy collaborating with coworkers, solving problems, or coming up with new ideas.

Why do you want this promotion?

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to establish whether you will remain motivated if you receive a promotion. Interviewers also look for someone with values and goals that match the company's. Explain that while you love your position, you have learned everything you can there. Say you're ready for a new challenge to improve your skills and progress your career.

Why should we consider you for this promotion?

This question helps an interviewer assess your confidence in your abilities and your skill at persuasion. When you answer, talk about your most important and relevant skills, accomplishments, and awards.

Tell me what you know about the position you're applying for

When you respond to this question, tell the interviewer about the parts of the job that appeal to you most. This lets them know that you're highly motivated and won't be surprised by any new duties the company will expect you to complete. After you answer, consider asking one or two questions about the position. For example, you could ask which project the company would want you to work on first if you get the promotion.

How would your current team members describe you and your work?

Most interviewers have already read performance evaluations and employee reviews or spoken to your team members by the time you come in for an interview. This question assesses your ability to evaluate your own performance accurately. Be honest when answering, and avoid saying anything negative about your coworkers.

Asking for feedback from team members before your promotion interview allows you to make your response more similar to theirs. If you say that everyone loves you and they're actually unenthusiastic, you might seem narcissistic. If others like you and you focus too much on your shortcomings, your interviewer could think you have low self-esteem or a negative attitude.

How do you think you'll react if you don't get this promotion?

To answer this question, say you would be disappointed but won't give up. Talk about how you would work hard to improve your performance and continue applying for new positions within the company. It's also good to mention how much you would like to stay with the business, even if you keep your current job, instead of applying for jobs with competitors.

How do you think a promotion will affect your current relationships at the company?

Many interviewers want to ensure that if you get the promotion, there won't be any conflicts with your former team members. This is especially important if you'll still be working with these people in the same department. Tell the interviewer you want to maintain your current relationships and continue mentoring your team. You can also say you want to foster an open, honest, and inclusive environment where people feel comfortable working together and coming to you if they have any issues.

Who would you recommend to replace you?

If you get a new job at your current company, someone will need to replace you. The company may already have a candidate in mind, and they could be checking to find out if your views are similar and assess your judgment. Think carefully about your answer, and name one of the best performers on your team. For example, you might nominate someone as your first choice because of their high performance, excellent work ethic, and ability to resolve conflicts. You could also mention a second choice.

In many ways, a promotion interview is like any other interview for a new job, but it comes with some advantages. Your interviewer might know you already, and they often have detailed information about your performance in your current role. Even so, it's still important to prepare. If you want a promotion, you can start looking for available positions at your company or another organization by uploading your resume to CareerBuilder. 

Related reading: Making your promotion interview successful

Here are some common signs that your interview was successful.

It's a good idea to be prepared for promotion interview questions about your skills.

Be ready to answer a variety of interview questions.

Learn about the body language do's and don'ts during an interview.