Interview for Promotion: How to Position for Greater Success

Today I am going to talk about Interviews for promotion, whether you are going through that internal process with your current company, or applying for a higher level position elsewhere, you need some strategies to position yourself for greater success.

If you haven’t got an interview but thinking of applying for a promotion, or amending your CV for promotion, the strategies here will also help you.

Broadly, my tips on interview for promotion are about:

  • Convincing the employers – why you are the right person for the job, and
  • Convincing yourself that you are ready for a promotion. It’s strange but very real: over 50% of people, even after getting the promotion, think they are “fake”, or ill-qualified for their new job. This is called imposter syndrome and it can also prevent you from getting the bigger job you deserve.

I have a habit of starting with the common topics that are easier to digest, and diving into the most important points later in my video, so… if you like challenging yourself, scroll down and start from there.

Convincing the Employer: Why You are Ready for the Promotion

It is important that you position yourself to be already doing the bigger job, or at least part of it. The trick is to think about what you have been doing, that are not “an official part of” your current job, but you have been doing alongside your job. These tasks are usually more strategic, and less of routine. It can be a little fluffy and you probably hated it when doing it, but such tasks are required more and more as you move up the corporate ladder. Some examples could be:

Strategic reviews: From time to time, you may get chance to work on strategic initiatives.

Often the outcome may not be tangible, but the thinking process is great for you to understand things on a much bigger picture, the landscape of the business, the past and future, the danger and opportunities, then convert that back into actionable points for the organization.

Even better, if the strategic initiative covers a bigger scope than your job. Say, if you are in charge of a sub-function, and the strategic initiative is on the entire function. Or let’s say your job only covers South East Asia, and the initiative is about Asia Pacific.

In the interview, you may not actually showcase the project that you did, but the insights from such a project can be great talking points and prove that you have the big picture understanding, positioning for a promotion.

Process re-engineering: Another type is process re-engineering projects.

Such work is great because it is to reflect on “How we are doing things”, “How we can do better”? Part of our work as we become more senior is to keep a keen eye on processes, whichever function we are in.

Generally, such projects can help you to build a cross-functional network within the company, and facilitate a very good big picture understanding. Whether it’s internal or external opportunities, proving you have such understanding will be very important for your next move.

Change Management: Change management is a very critical aspect of leadership. The human’s resistance to change makes change not only a technical or business matter, but a psychological matter. It’s the most challenging even for seasoned leaders where failures often prevail.

But it is where you will be able to shine if you are already a grassroot leader in some of the teams, it shows your influencing power and leadership, your EQ and interpersonal skills, as well as your deep understanding of the culture and subculture.

This also demonstrates your resilience because often, everyone else is against changes, and you will have to, with the support of your power sponsor, slowly gain buy-in of key people in the organization, to get things done.

Incubation of New project: This is often required at the leadership level, and if you have already done such work, you can approach it from a few aspects: Your courage and capability to build something from scratch. Your resourcefulness of getting things done by organizing effort in the organization.

Team building: If you have hired a peer (or sometimes a senior), and mentored a new colleague at lower or peer level as you.

Such mentoring or on-job-training experience are worth mentioning, not only for the leadership aspect, but also that they can help you to better understand your job and reflect on processes.


If it was an internal opportunity, you would have done a lot of work before this: such as getting your hard work noticed by the supervisor and senior management, and getting a generally good reputation internally for your attitude and leadership.

One thing to note is you wouldn’t want to sound like you feel unrecognized. In fact, if you are presenting to a committee, you probably have gotten some support from your manager beforehand. It’s important you have some alignment with your boss and sound well supported in the interview.

Convincing YOURSELF: Why You are Ready for the Promotion

This is much harder than convincing the employer, even after getting the job, we still feel like we are “fake” from time to time, and worried that we will be poked through and exposed.

I have met many high achievers who believe that they are complete fakes Many of them seem to be amazingly accomplished and extremely successful. Impostor syndrome is extremely common with women. Or if you were like me, believed that our parents will only love us if we do well in life, you may become overachievers who feel insecure.

To overcome Imposter Syndrome and get the more senior level jobs, we first have to understand what’s going through our minds, what are the assumptions.

Assumptions 1: Everyone else is qualified for their jobs.

Interestingly, if we assume workplace promotions are generally efficient, meaning, if someone is 100% good for his current job, then he will get promoted to that next role. And this keeps going on till he’s not 100% good for his current job. And he will be stuck at this job.

In a workplace 100% efficient, the world will be full of people who are not good at his job. Because if he was that good, he would have been promoted already.

And if the workplace is not efficient, then many disqualified people will be promoted. Either way, we’ll end up with plenty of people disqualified for the job.

But we can challenge ourselves:

Why must only people get a job when they are fully qualified? Can’t we get a job we are 60% qualified and grow in it?

In fact, that’s often what actually happens in real world.

This is just a thought experiment, and in fact, most of the time, the hiring managers are aware that, the new hire will come with some skill gap or experience gap for their role. And that means room for growth.

Assumption 2: I am a fake and even if I manage to fool others, I will be exposed one day

Actually, you can’t really fool others, you just passed their standard, although you couldn’t pass your own.

So the best way to manage feeling of an impostor is to evaluate yourself, objectively. After all, you are the best person to assess the source of these problems.

A career coach or counsellor can certainly help you on this journey of self-discovery and change, a mentor, or good friend can also put things in perspective.

I also met with some clients who encountered set-back in life, such as retrenchment, or rather negative comments from supervisors, saying things like, “You will never make it in this field”, or “you will never become good at something.” And these life scenarios or comments can badly affect how we see ourselves.

So I ask my clients, this statement is an opinion expressed by someone else. And you have the right to agree or disagree. If you agree, how many % do you agree with? What is it that you agree? Any evidence to support that he/she was right?

With the discovery following these questions, my clients learn to separate the other person’s opinion from their own opinion. In the process, they also get to make sense of their feelings – often that comment has been like a thorn, hurting, and so the wound does not get to heal. The awareness allows them to take what that opinion taught them, and throw away the part that does not make sense, and move on in life.

This example is to say that, if you think any past setback is affecting your self-esteem, please work on it, so that you can do well at interview for promotion. See also my story on Overcoming Fear of Rejection, and Confidence for Introverts.

Watch the video here:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


portrait_Yolanda Yu_YL_r

Yolanda Yu

  • 𝗣𝗖𝗖 ICF Certified Executive Coach
  • 𝗣𝗲𝗮𝗸𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲ᵀᴹ Career Coach
  • Ex-Visa Ex-Alibaba business leader
  • 🐧Penguin Author
  • Ex-Headhunter