Shouldn’t Good Interview Result in Promotion?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about the result of an interview:

A coworker applied for a promotion. She had a great interview, however; after the interview her resume was returned to her. Was that proper?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

If I understand correctly, your coworker was interviewed and felt she did very well (or perhaps was told she did very well). However, she didn’t get the promotion she was seeking. You’re asking how that could work out that way.

The short answer is that unless there is an organizational rule about it, the interview is just one step of the promotional process. So, it would not be incorrect to decide not to promote someone, even though he or she answered questions well in an interview setting. As you know, anyone can promise to do well in an interview room–and most sincerely mean it. But decision-makers may be looking at a wide array of other things to give them assurance that someone is going to be effective.

A promotion is a big step and not easy to undo, so it’s important to everyone to do it right. (That doesn’t always happen, but most effective organizations try.)Let me also mention some issues that might have played a part in this:

1.)You don’t say if other employees were interviewed also. It may be that your coworker did well, but not as well as others, or that someone else had knowledge or skills that were particularly useful in the new role.

2.) It also may be that your coworker felt positive about the interview but the reality was different. For example, she may have felt she answered every question correctly. But, the interviewers may have felt otherwise. Or, she answered correctly but the attitudes she reflected concerned them.Usually the person being interviewed is not very aware of how well or poorly they are doing, they are so caught up in just responding. Also, they don’t always think about the viewpoints of the interviewers, so they answer from an employee viewpoint instead of a manager’s viewpoint.

3.)It may be that even though the interview went well, there was some other issues that made the decision-makers decide not to promote her. Among those might be: *Tenure and background. *Work history. *Credibility with employees or others. *Appearance and professional demeanor. *Ethical, character or reputation issues. *Negative history with being supervised. *Punctuality and use of sick time. *Personality fit within the organization or the new work area. *Written communication skills. *Interpersonal skills. *History of conflicts or a current conflict. *Overall readiness for the role. Some of those might come out in the interview while others are evaluated separately.

4.) There is, of course, the chance that someone else had already been picked by those higher up, but HR felt an interview had to take place. That doesn’t happen as often as people think, but it does happen. That might reflect that someone else has an inside track or that your friend has burned a bridge or two and is on the outside track! I think your friend should talk to HR or her own manager and ask them if they have advice for how she could either prepare differently or develop her career prior to the next interview. She should let them know that she is disappointed but wants to keep moving forward and contribute to her work to the maximum.

She may find out more about the situation, but at least she will give them a positive impression. May I also suggest that she check out my website every week or so. It is comprised of articles on professional and personal development, with a few general interest items as well. Many people use it as a resource for their career development–and it’s free! www. tinalewisrowe. com (I write it that way to avoid spambots!) Best wishes to you. If you discover more about this issue and want to ask about it, please let us know.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.