How do I interview for a position that is at least a level higher, if not more, than my current position? I know I am a great candidate, but my current title seems like a weakness.
It is not unusual to have some fears and doubts when you are looking at taking on a new, higher-level position. You say that you are a great candidate for the new position but that you are concerned about your current job title. Feed your confidence and learn to manage your fears and doubts. The interviewers are going to be more interested in you than your current job title.
Do your research
Review the ad and ask for a copy of the job description. Speak to your company’s human resources representatives to make sure you have the prerequisites for the position. If you do not, then you should look at gaining the experience and/or taking the courses required to move to the next level.
Speak to the incumbent in the position, if possible, or other staff or managers in similar positions to find out their views on the position and what is required to succeed. Take notes and then take action to address any gaps or deficits in your résumé and experience.
You might also want to job shadow for a day or so with the incumbent or someone in a similar position to get a more accurate picture of what is required. This will also serve to build your confidence.
Prepare for the interview
Update your résumé and cover letter. Make sure they reflect the key words and language used in the job ad and description.
Practise interviewing with a career coach, colleague or friends. Record the process and get constructive feedback. The more you practise, the more confident and comfortable you will be in actual interviews. If you know you will be interviewed by a panel, then practise being interviewed by more than one person at a time.
Try a “walk the road” exercise. Take time to envision yourself in the position, confidently carrying out the responsibilities of the job.
During the interview
Before and during the interview, remember to breathe deeply to ensure you are as calm and focused as possible. Be sure to ask for clarification if there is a question that do not understand or hear clearly. Take your time. Take note of the interviewers’ body language and facial expressions. If they look confused or concerned after you answer a question, ask whether they need clarification or further information.
Be prepared to provide examples from your current and previous positions about your leadership style, how you make decisions, manage projects, deal with conflict, build teams, engage stakeholders, and so on.
Send a thank you e-mail or letter after your interview, reflecting the key subjects covered in the interview and expressing your keen interest in the position. This will help you to stand out from interviewees who do not take the time to follow up.