Promotion Interview

The Interview is usually your final chance to prove that are the right person for promotion. You need to leave your interviewer in no doubt that they can count on you to perform as a more senior manager.

You might know you are good enough – but you need to be able to prove it! For most candidates this can turn out to be a lot harder than you might think.

The interview is usually the final stage of the assessment process and it will determine where your career goes next. There is a lot of competition, and after getting through the other rigorous assessment stages, the pressure can be very real.

Matching your past experiences to what the organisation is looking for takes practice and guidance

Interview type

The sort of questions which will be covered will vary depending on your FRS. You might have:

  • 1. Knowledge based questions which you need to revise/ read up on
  • 2. opinion based questions where you get to air your views on topics relevant to the organisation
  • 3. Hypothetical questions, where you will need to explain what you would do in response to a hypothetical situation
  • 4. Competency (or PQA) based questions which will explore behaviour you have demonstrated in the past by asking you for examples of things you have done

Most candidates find questions types 1, 2 and 3 fairly straight-forward.

Number 4 creates all sorts of headaches. It’s these questions which candidates find surprisingly easy to mess up.

Competency questions work because they find out what you have done in the past as a way to determine how you are likely to perform in the future

Example interview questions

Competency/ PQA questions follow a very structured format i.e.

‘Can you describe a time when…’
‘Can you think of an example when…’
‘Tell us about an occasion when…’

It will depend what level you are applying for as to how complex the question will be.


What skill is being assessed

Please describe a time where you have collaborated particularly effectively with others
Team work/ working with others

Can you give an example of when you have resolved a complicated situation satisfactorily?

Please describe a time where you improved standards of quality or promoted a culture excellence in the workplace
High standards/ Excellence

Please describe a situation when you have had to create and implement a detailed plan

Tell us about a time where you have had to push forward a significant change
Flexibility/ openness to change

Do you have an example of a time where you have been ethical in response to a challenging situation?
Integrity/ Honesty

Please describe a time you have taken proactive steps to develop your skills or knowledge
Learning/ Self-development

The biggest problem with competency questions is that you need to describe a single example. Most people can’t help but fall into the trap of talking about themselves in general terms

Follow-up interview questions

It’s usual to have follow-up questions in response to your initial answer. These will be used to dig deeper into your example and gather the details which you may be skimming over. These questions will help the interviewers get a better understanding of your evidence.

What was the situation? How did you build rapport? What was the specific outcome? Why was this particularly positive? What were the improvements? What was the problem? What made it complex? What was your strategy? Why did you choose that course of action? Did you run into any difficulties? How did you achieve the result?

A big mistake that most people make is to hear the question about what they have done and answer with what they think. Don’t let it catch you out.

Example question
‘Tell us about a time when you have worked well with others as part of a team’

Example poor answer
‘I think team working is important because…….I know I work well in a team because I always…..’

Example good answer
‘Last year I was part of a team responsible for xxxx. One of the things I had to do was xxxxxx. I made sure I was working well with the others in the team by xxxxx. We did xxxx and achieved xxxx. I focused on doing xxxxx. I supported others by doing xxxx. The impact of this was xxxxx…’

Can you see the difference?

The theory is that past evidence predicts future performance. The interviews believe that by asking you to provide a real life example of what you have done in the recent past you are providing a clear indication of how you are likely to behave in the future. This is called predictive validity. It’s this which will help the interview panel decide if you are right for the job or not.

Next Page: Preparing for your Promotion Interview

It doesn’t matter what you have done, how much experience you have and how suitable you are for the role if you don’t present your evidence using the correct format….

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