Why Do I Have to Interview For an Internal Promotion?

by Evil HR Lady on January 14, 2011

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been with my company for several years, and I am now up for a promotion. The job description is a perfect fit for my career path, and came from discussions with my supervisor about my career goals and the needs of the company.

Then in a twist I wasn’t expecting, the position was posted as a new position. Instead of being promoted directly to it, I was encouraged to apply for it like everyone else. Outside candidates will also be considered, but company policy gives “preference” to internal candidates when all other things are equal.

My question is two-fold:

1. Is this a normal way of doing things? This job description was tailor-made for me, and it seems odd that the company would go through a full recruitment process with outside candidates and all.

2. Since I am going to be interviewing for this new position, how much of typical interview advice still applies? The hiring manager is my current manager, who already knows all my strengths and shortcomings. He already knows what skills I have and what skills I will be able to learn. He already knows how I fit in with the company culture, how I get along with my co-workers, and how well I understand our business. What advice do you have for a situation like this?

Why Do I Have to Interview For an Internal Promotion?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I was in a similar situation recently. A new position was created with another group within my department that was a great fit for my skills. I got the impression that if I applied, I would be a "shoe-in" as the manager knew me well enough. I went through the interview just like it was an external position – dressed my best (even though it was casual Friday and everyone else was in jeans), answered all questions like the manager knew nothing about me, and generally felt that it went very well. I was supposed to hear back within a week (they wanted to move fast), but a week turned into 2, then turned into a month and a half.

It ended up that I didn't get the job – another internal candidate was chosen, one that had worked with the manager years ago at another company. This individual was the 'wild card' that I had never expected.

So, even with the good vibes and all, you just never know what could happen. At the end of the day, I'm glad I didn't get it though – I'm much better off where I am currently. I share an office with the temp that was backfilling the position while they were looking for someone full-time, and in the past couple months found that most of the tasks would completely bore me. In this case, the grass really isn't greener on the other side.

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Lindsay January 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I had to do that when I was working for a State agency, but in that case it was because regulations required that all positions be openly posted and at least three people be interviewed. In your case, it sounds like they want you, but are also looking around "just in case" there is something better out there. Best of luck! I hope you get it!

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Sally Anders February 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

It’s not uncommon to hold interviews for internal promotion in the UK, and some make it a requirement. It’s like Lindsay says, it’s good to put it out there and see if there are better candidates, and why shouldn’t they? Of course, you have an incredible advantage in as much as they know you, they know how you work, they know if you’re suitable for the role or not – the best kind of interview ever, surely?

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Susie July 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I was just passed over for a promotion in favour of a “high flying” external candidate. Actually, I’m reasonably happy where I am but I am at least equally qualified– and I must admit part of applying was self-promotion and personal development.(Look at meee! I can do mooore!)

What is annoying is that the company hassle of filling my current position, had I been successful, was likely a factor in the choice of an external candidate. Not only would they have to replace me too — but they paid a fixed headhunter’s fee for the senior role. How embarrassing to incur that expense but find the best candidate already in the business, then have to pay a *second* fee to cover the junior position also I wonder if these are common motivators of companies favouring external candidates. Is that anyone else’s experience?

The company’s lack of professionalism toward me and other internal candidates, based on observation, is more irksome. Although I attended the internal interview with the same preparation and grooming as an external candidate, the company has yet to send me even a form rejection memo, let alone give me feedback on “why”. In fact the first I heard of my unsuccessful pitch was that a “new manager will be joining on Monday”! I’d be interested in whether anyone else has experienced this double standard — having to apply for a position like a raw external candidate, but not be afforded the same basic courtesy. I am trying to be positive and understanding, but…really!

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Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 7:59 am

I do understand your situation .. I was in an even worse situation .. I was already doing the job with the same title when my local operating company received a direction from the corporate that this title should be on a higher grade of management .. I thought that I’d be promoted anyway .. however the surprise that the job I was doing for two years posted as a position and even opened for external candidates, my boss was even more upset than I was as this dorection came from the HR without considering his opinion .. I ended up by some one else took the job. I was too frustrated, but as days passed,my colleague who took the job was always complaining about the new job and excessive workload it brought with it so that he rarely spent a weekend with his family without having an assignment to work on or being out in a business trip .. I really thank God for not having the job, we really don’t know what tomorrow holds for us ..

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Tymma August 13, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I applied for an internal job a month ago and was never contacted by anyone within the company (HR or supervisors). I feel more than qualified to fill the position and feel someone should at least have the decency and consideration to tell me that they have filled the position or that I do not qualify, but they appreciate my application.

Am I being unreasonable?

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