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  • Writer's picturePenny Langstaff

Your 7 Step Guide to Internal Promotion Applications

Internal promotion application tips from Penny Langstaff at

In many organisations, it's common for a company to advertise a role rather than just award a promotion. I've met and coached internal applicants who've been through this process and most experienced one or more of the following. If you're asked to go through this process, here are some tips to help make your internal application successful.

  1. Is having "Inside knowledge" a benefit? In many situations yes, because you know the people, products, services etc and you may also think you know what sort of person they're looking for in terms of skills, experience and “fit”. However, having that knowledge can sometimes impact negatively on your application because it can influence how you respond to questions and how you perform at interview.

  2. Updating your CV or Resume If the company has asked you to submit your CV or Resume, then it's important you adapt/update it in line with the job ad and/or position description. Don't be tempted to not bother and just submit an old document on the basis that they know you. Keep in mind that you’re potentially competing against other internal and/or external candidates, so be professional and submit a detailed document.

  3. Completing online questionnaires or assessments Again, don't be tempted to do these in a rush and provide limited information. These questions are often the starting point for companies reviewing applications, so they need to be able to compare responses equally. For that reason, it's good to try and put yourself in the shoes of an external candidate who will be answering based on what they know of the role from the job ad or position description. By all means use some internal information in your responses if it's appropriate, but keep in mind the wider perspective when answering.

  4. Interview Preparation It’s essential to prepare and practice as you would for any interview. Refer to the job ad and/or position description when thinking about what questions you may get asked and then plan the examples you'll use. The STAR structure is a good way of ensuring you get across all relevant information without too little or too much detail.

  5. Knowing the interviewers In many instances, you may know some or all of the interviewers. In fact, I’ve met people who were going to be interviewed by a panel that included their current Manager! Knowing some or all of the interviewers can make the process feel quite awkward, so approach it as if you're an external candidate and be professional rather than informal throughout.

  6. Interview question responses The key thing to remember here is that you want to avoid giving answers solely based on: - your company knowledge and/or - what you think the interviewers want to hear and/or - your current role only When preparing, go back over previous jobs and think about what experience or skills you may have that you’re not currently using. If you just use examples from your current role, you’re potentially wasting an opportunity to tell the interviewers what they don't know about you and what additional value you could bring to the position. It also puts you on more of an equal footing with external applicants who will likely use all their roles and experience to highlight their knowledge and skills.

  7. Not putting yourself in the "new" role when interviewing This is particularly common if you’ve been in an Acting Team Leader/Manager role and are now interviewing for the permanent position. You probably still feel like one of the team so it can be hard to give your responses based on what you will need to do rather than what you’re currently doing. To help overcome that, refer to the position description and the new role responsibilities. Then remove yourself mentally from the “acting” role and put yourself into what will be required in the permanent position.

At the end of the day, there are definite benefits to being an internal candidate, but it can be easy to assume you're a shoo-in and underestimate how you should approach the process. I'd always recommend keeping your application professional, viewing the process from an external perspective and using your internal knowledge wisely.

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