Recently I’ve had several individuals approach me for assistance regarding an internal promotion. In every case, they’ve reached out to me after the damage has been done. Sometimes they wait until after the initial interview when they discover that things did not go as planned and other times when they learn that someone else was awarded the promotion that they coveted.
Faulty thinking sometimes leads Internal candidates to think, “Well, they know me. I will be a shoo-in.” Or “My boss told me I’m the most qualified candidate for the job, so I’ll just wing it.” Often, they fail to submit a resume or submit a hastily updated, less-than-professional recap of their work history convincing themselves that, “everyone knows what I’ve done.”
Regrettably, this is not the best approach. First, it is a rare boss who really knows all the ways you contribute to the company. Second, while your boss may provide input in the decision, in most cases other team members who may not know what you’ve done will weigh in on the final decision. You can’t expect your boss to carry the burden of selling you to the rest of the interview team. That is your job.
Instead, internal candidates need to prepare as thoroughly for a promotion opportunity as they would when interviewing with another company. That means carving out time to submit a professional application package: resume, cover letter, and work samples and thinking through and preparing responses to likely interview questions. It might include updating your LinkedIn profile since there is a strong likelihood that the hiring manager will be comparing your LinkedIn profile with those of other potential candidates.
Some companies have a bias toward internal candidates, others generally favor hiring external candidates. Since you can’t be sure which will be true in your situation, you need to make a solid case for yourself from start to finish. Prepare examples of your experience that demonstrate without a doubt, your qualifications for the position. This is not the time for false modesty; go big or go home.
Years ago, I was coaching a client who was applying for an internal promotion at a university. He would be competing with several external candidates and asked me if I thought he should wear a suit. I asked him if the other candidates could be expected to wear a suit. He thought about it and said “Yes.” He had his answer.
After the interview don’t miss your second selling opportunity – a thank you email. It is amazing that even in a tight economy many job seekers don’t bother to write a thank you note or don’t write one that reiterates their qualifications. Writing a thank you note increases your chances of a second interview by as much as 30%.
If the selection process involves multiple rounds of interviews, be prepared to write thank you notes at every stage of the process. In the case of a panel interview, address the note to the lead interviewer and express appreciation to the entire selection team, otherwise write an individual note to each interviewer. Good luck!
©2021 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.