Survival tips: internal interviews for promotion

Cheerful business people agreeing on contract in cosy meeting roomInternal Interviews for Promotion: What do you say when they know you so well?

Internal interviews can be tricky. You’re not a shiny unknown employee, you’re a person they know with baggage and imperfections. But with that, you also offer a degree of predicability and the value that comes with knowing the company, the main players and how things work.

I spoke recently with a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who had just finished conducting numerous end-on-end interviews as part of a business restructure, and we discussed some of the snafus made by internal candidates.

Fresh in his mind was “Bill”. Bill was a valued employee of many years and yet interviewed poorly. He used examples to showcase his talents that the CFO from personal experience knew were not career highlights. Much later, in an interview debrief, the CFO asked him why he had used such poor examples. Bill replied that the CFO would have seen him working on those projects and probably had differing ideas as to the success of how it turned out.

Tip: Always use your best example of your expertise and don’t project your insecurities onto others. The interviewer is not there to argue with you; he or she is interested in why you think you’re the best for the job and hearing about why you think project happenings or solutions were important.

Next on the list of standout interview curiosities was “Sally”. Sally was confidence personified; she managed to rewrite history via a spin-filled narrative that bore little resemblance to the truth. Her view of a problematic situation well known throughout the company, had been decisively dissected—allocating blame solely at the feet of others. Conversely, minor successes had been embellished with Sally as the star showing the way forward—a picture of superlative leadership in action. This eyebrow-raising interview gained extra points for fantasy content and lost points for not being savvy enough to understand the ramifications of employing it.

Tip: It’s one thing to toot your own horn during an interview for companies where you have no history (although do that with caution). It is quite another to look major players squarely in the eye and relate a story that is unrecognisable by the people who see you every day and know what really happened.

Last on the interview lists is Darrell. Darrell took this one-on-one opportunity with the CFO to complain about his lot in life. He cited projects that had gone wrong—as he had predicted they would. He showed anger over the restructure and every question he answered with “attitude”.

Tip: You can’t ‘snow’ people who know you and your faults, but at the same time, don’t remind them of what sort of a pain you can be daily. Especially at interview. Don’t use the opportunity to get before one of the senior people in the company to push your personal agenda. And, if you do, don’t be surprised if you are passed over for the job you wanted desperately to get, but ended up sabotaging all the way to redundancy.

What problems have you encountered during interview interviews for promotion? Tell me about your experiences!



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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.