I’m considering applying for a promotion. This could be a hugely important move for me, so I want to do everything possible to improve my chances of success. How should I prepare for an interview?
Assessing the job
The first step is to look carefully at the job on offer. On the face of it, the role may seem attractive in terms of salary, responsibility and the experience you stand to gain. However, you should also think in the longer term. Does the position align with your career plans or will it represent a detour or possibly even a dead end?
A new job should pose fresh and interesting challenges, but you need to be honest with yourself. Have you the skills and qualities that will enable you to step into the role and hit the ground running? Considering your own strengths and weaknesses will help you prepare for the interview. If the job has been advertised internally, you’ll be up against rival candidates with whom you may well work with and whom you know on a personal/professional level. To secure that promotion, you’ll have to demonstrate that you are better suited to the role than your rivals.
It’s therefore important to be clear about the factors that differentiate you. What have you got in terms of skills and experience that sets you apart? What have you achieved in your career to date that can illustrate the skills and qualities that you can bring to bear?
Be honest with yourself
In the case of internal interviews, employers will have a good idea of who you are. That knowledge comes from your track record, information gathered in appraisals and (sometimes) through character analyses carried out via psychometric testing. When presenting your case, be aware of past impressions you may have made. Also prepare to present your strengths and demonstrate how you plan to address any weaknesses, such as a lack of experience in a certain area.
Effective preparation for the interview requires an in-depth knowledge of the position in question. You should have a full job description, but if the role already exists you may gain a greater insight by talking to the incumbent or other colleagues.
Before you go in, you should have a clear idea of what you want to say, but be prepared to think on your feet. You certainly won’t be able to predict all the questions you’re likely to be asked, so listen carefully.
And remember, the interview is a final opportunity for you to make a decision about whether the position is right for you. You should use the process to find out as much as possible about the full range of responsibilities, the career prospects, the support available from colleagues when you take the role, and what you will be expected to achieve (possibly within a defined timeframe).
When your interview is over, take some time to reflect in terms of what went well and what was less successful. Even if you win this promotion, you will undergo other interviews throughout your career, so see this as part of an overall learning process