How can I do better in internal job interviews?

By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers

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Sabina Trench – WESTPORT, 087 453 5227

Q.: “I have been working in the same job for 15 years, and recently I have started trying for internal promotion. I’m getting to interview, but no success so far. Where might I be going wrong? (JD, email).”

A: Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers, has some tips that might help you, and others in a similar position, JD:


When you have worked in one place for a long time, your confidence can take a hit. Unless there is a good system of performance reviews and/or positive feedback, you may not appreciate your worth. I recommend that you review your own performance now. Do this as honestly as you can, and highlight your most important career successes andachievements.

I also recommend that you remind yourself of what you did before this job (if this is the case), and advise you not to lose the good stuff from those roles. Over-confidence could be the issue either, so be sure that you are not going into the interview expecting that you only need to go through the motions, and that the job is yours.


Are you so good at your job that they don’t want to lose you from your current role? Unusual as it might sound, it may be up to you to propose a succession plan for your own position. If you think this could be something that is holding you back, have a look around you and see if you can identify a suitable colleague as your replacement.

This could be someone that you have mentored, or maybe someone that has acted in your position previously. Introduce this solution during the interview to dispel any myth that you are irreplaceable and can’t be moved up the ladder.


After 15 years in the same job, your interview panel may be forgiven for assuming that you are not interested in advancement. You should use every opportunity to challenge this assumption during the interview. Draw their attention to the fact that you have applied for other promotions (be ready to answer why you didn’t get them though), and offer reasons why you feel you are ready to move up.

It could be any combination of things; the right time in your life/career; you feel you have more to contribute; or you are ready for a new challenge for example.


In many internal promotion situations, you may be sitting across from an interview panel of people that you know very well. In fact, one or two might even be friends. Just because they know you well, doesn’t necessarily mean that they know your work well.

You need to treat them as you would a panel of strangers (within reason with regard to formalities) who know nothing of you or your work. It can be a little awkward at first, and it will certainly ensure that you don’t exaggerate successes or responsibilities. However, don’t let this hold you back in showcasing your skills and ability, because it probably won’t be a factor for the other interviewees you are up against.


Treat your internal interview as you would any other job interview with extensive research and preparation. And please don’t slip up with a lack of knowledge about your organisation. If you don’t know about its future plans, why should they factor you into those plans with a promotion?

Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.