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How to Answer Interview Questions for a Promotion

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Interviewing for a job promotion shouldn't be as intimidating as interviewing for a new job, given that you likely already have a relationship with the person sitting across the table from you. Unless you answer the questions skillfully, however, you're still at risk of returning to your cubicle and watching someone else get the promotion. Be prepared for questions about why you want the promotion, how your skills will benefit the company and how you'd react in certain scenarios.

Promotion-Related Questions

Expect questions about why you want the promotion or why you're looking to move out of your current position. Tailor your answers to how you can benefit the company by working in the new position rather than how a promotion will help you improve your resume. For example, say that your expertise in social media will allow you to help develop the company's online presence which, in turn, can lead to more sales. You can also express how a leadership role will give you the ability to use your specific skill sets to help the company fulfill its mission statement. Don't downplay your current role. Instead, explain that it has helped you develop your skills in a way that lets you serve the company in a larger capacity, and but that you're also ready for an additional challenge.

Questions About Skills

You'll likely be asked to explain how your skills would be suitable for the new position. Before the interview, brainstorm a short list of your strongest skills and think of specific examples that support each one. For example, don't just say you're competent at handling multiple tasks at once. Briefly explain a scenario in which you had to demonstrate this skill and what the results were. Although it's useful to focus on how you've performed in your current role within the company, you can also share some successes from a previous job if it pertains to the position. For example, if you currently have an entry-level position but are interviewing for a middle management role and have past experience managing a team of staff, identify some lessons you learned in that role.

Situation-Based Questions

Many job interviews include situation-based questions in which the interviewer describes a hypothetical scenario and asks how you'd respond. This type of question is prevalent in promotion interviews, especially when the promotion will lead you to supervise staff. For example, the interviewer might ask how you'd deal with a team member who isn't carrying his weight or how you'd react to a project that's not done on deadline. For the first scenario, you could stress clear communication with the team member, a discussion about your expectations of him and a follow-up meeting a month later to track his progress. In the latter scenario, you could explain that you would work carefully with your team on all subsequent projects to ensure they are completed ahead of deadline so there are no surprises.

Tricky Questions

Some employers prefer to skip obvious questions and pose questions that force you to think on your feet. For example, a boss who notices your ambition might ask you if you aspire to eventually take her job. An appropriate response is to say that you're more interested in excelling at the potential new position than worrying about climbing the corporate ladder to the next rung. The employer might also ask you to identify a true weakness. Don't give a weakness masked as a strength -- that's too predictable. Instead, identify a legitimate weakness but focus your answer on what steps you are taking to overcome it.

  • Appear calm, cool and collected at all times. Remain positive and confident.
  • Be enthusiastic and describe your vision of the future.

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