It is hard and it is often public
I personally have huge respect for colleagues who put themselves forward for internal promotions. It is hard. And it is often public. Even when the vast majority of your colleagues want you to do well, there will always be the one or two with a little schadenfreude. They may secretly want you to fail, and of course this is much more about their reflections on themselves than you, however, it can be hard to deal with colleagues who damn you with faint praise.
Don’t ever let that put you off.
Don’t make assumptions
Do not underestimate the effort you need to make as an internal candidate. I have seen too many great teachers underperform during the internal interview process because they fail to celebrate wholeheartedly all they have achieved in the current school, mainly due to the assumption that those interviewing them will know this already.
Prepare as thoroughly as you would for an external interview
It is imperative that you prepare just as thoroughly for internal interviews as you would for external ones. Yes, it can be much more difficult to “sell” yourself to colleagues who already know you, but you need to. But don’t underestimate the things you can do that an external candidate cannot:
- Ask colleagues to give you feedback before you go to interview and use their words to make this an easier process for you.
- Refer back to your performance management reviews and feedback from previous internal interviews, look at the comments that your reviewers have recorded there and highlight the great points and show how you have improved on those needing development.
- What parent testimonials do you have? Share them.
Really focus on 4 or 5 things you want me to know. To remember. What is it that you need me to really know about you so I can see you succeed in the role?
There is a prize for coming second
So, plan diligently, prepare thoroughly and interview positively, and you’ll get the job! But sometimes you won’t… so what do you do then?
Here are two examples from colleagues I have worked with:
One was “knocked back” from internal interviews, and felt that they had “done their time” and were ready for the next rung on the ladder. They felt that the leadership team had made the wrong decision, and set about sharing this view with their colleagues. None of their reflections was about their own performance, rather all about ours and how unfair we had been. Fixed mindset yes – and proof positive of course that we made the right decision in not appointing.
Conversely the other went for an internal promotion three times before being successful. They showed amazing resilience, a real growth mindset and took every positive out of the feedback requested. Each time they interviewed, they demonstrated how they had taken on board the advice they had previously been given and grown from it. When they were successful they were ready to do an amazing job, and they did.
Although I believe internal interviews are emotionally and exceptionally harder, they do have one major positive over external ones, because if you want it and seek it out there is a fabulous prize for coming second – ongoing feedback. Yes, you can get feedback from external interviews, but it will be a one-off, whereas it is in your own school’s interests to “reward” you for trying, pick you up, and help you develop for the next internal opportunity to come along.
So, take every opportunity to ask for feedback, whether successful or unsuccessful, so that you can do more of what is working well, and develop or strengthen the areas that have been identified as needing more experience or improvement.
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