Query: I have been called for an interview internally for a promotion to a more senior management position and am really confident I can do the job. However, I am a bit worried as I will be interviewed by my current boss, who I know very well. I’m afraid the interview might be too casual, and I won’t put across my points as well as external candidates. How do I prepare for questions like ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ and answer them without awkwardness during the interview?
Answer: Getting an internal interview and the opportunity to step up into a more senior management position can be a difficult position to be in. It may seem very attractive to be an internal candidate in a process and while there are positives, there are also some negatives.
As with all interviews, both internal and external, the key to success is preparing, preparing and preparing again. In the case of internal interviews, complacency can sometimes cause the candidate to prepare badly and not succeed.
You note that you feel confident that you can do the job. While this may be true, your job is to now make the interviewers believe that you are the best for the role – and not make assumptions on the process.
Don’t assume a casual interview: Your boss has got to their level for a reason so while a casual, friendly relationship may be the day-to-day interaction you have with them, do not be taken back by a more professional and structured approach to the interview.
In most companies, when a senior management role is in the interview process stage, you must assume that there will be external applicants and that a fair and structured process will be followed by the interview panel to ensure that each interviewee gets an equal opportunity. Finally, your bosses’ success has a direct correlation to the success of their senior management team so they should always give the job to the candidate that would be the best at the role.
Don’t assume your manager actually knows what you do: In a lot of cases they don’t. Depending on the size of an organisation, sometimes they only get to see the end results of all the hard work and initiatives.
Don’t assume your manager is fully aware of what you want to achieve in the next five years: This is never a given, and while in a lot of organisations there is quarterly planning, a five-year development plan is not always discussed. This is a great time to discuss how you plan to progress your career in line with the success of the business. As an employee, you will have some key insights on some of the structures and planning. However, while it is important to incorporate these in a plan as a senior manager, they will want you to bring new ideas or initiatives to the table. Ensure that if that question is asked, you have some relevant suggestions on how you can support the development of the business and, in line, your career path.
Don’t assume you are a front-runner: This is a very dangerous assumption as this will come across as complacency. As already noted, they will not just be looking for someone to do the job but the best person for the role.
Here are some key points to follow:
Research the company: You may think you know everything, but check their website, news articles, industry magazines and also look into competitors.
Prepare: Know your CV, have good examples demonstrating different competencies and skills relative to the role.
Check the format: Request the format of the interview from HR beforehand to avoid being caught off-guard.
Have questions prepared: This will demonstrate your interest progressing in the company and the job.
Dress well: Smart clothes, neutral colours and clean shoes
Finally, close the interview professionally. Thank them for their time, reaffirm your commitment and interest in the role and how you feel you could bring continued value to the organisation in this role. Always request feedback whether successful or not.
This article first appeared in the business section of The Sunday Independent on February 10th 2019, and the original version can be viewed here.
Mid-West Regional Manager
Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group