Interviewing for a promotion

Here’s the scenario. Our office represents a public agency, and has about 45 attorneys and maybe 10 support staff, divided into 2 “teams,” each of which has an attorney supervisor. There is one big boss over the entire office.

We have gotten authority to hire a third supervisor, and word is at least one of the current supervisors is stepping down. So they will be hiring at least 1 and possibly as many as 3 new supervisors.

This job is open to people in our office, people with our agency nationwide, or anyone else who met the required criteria (most likely somewhat experienced lawyers from private law firms, corporations, or other public agencies.) AFAIK, 5 people in my office have applied - all are well qualified, tho of course, not as impressive as yours truly.

I submitted my application, which required writing samples, statements of my qualifications, etc. Which is kinda silly, because I have been an attorney here for 14 years, and if they don’t know whether I’d be qualified or not … Basically, I do a lot of work and I do that work well - generally at or near the top of the office in production quantity and quality. But, I have never been an asskisser, and have stupidly expressed my self one or two times over my 14 year tenure (tho not in the last couple of years.)

So, they are setting up interviews for next week (great timing, huh?) They have one hour slots for 10-15 candidates, so on a numerical basis, my odds aren’t insurmountable. They are flying in 2 big cheeses, who will make up a panel of 3 interviewers (including our big boss).

My quandry is, how the heck do I approach this interview? Like I said, if my big boss doesn’t already know if he would like me as a supervisor, how the heck am I gonna convince him in a one hour interview? It is wierd talking to him about it, knowing he could be sitting there thinking, “What the fuck are you thinking, Dinsdale? No way in hell you will ever be a supervisor in my office.”

We just did some “teamwork” training which the “powers-that-be” seem to be pretty hyped on, so I’ll review those materials as well as the company line regarding “mission/vision/values” BS.

Ay of you experience a similar situation? Damn, I haven’t interviewed for a job in so many years. And how do you bullshit someone who knows you?!

Here’s a simple one, our office is casual dress, but the big boss always wears suit/tie. I (and all other attys, including the supervisors) always dress cas. Do I wear a suit for the interview?

Anyone got the names of any “leadership” or “interviewing” books or sites I might want to take a gander at? Shit, I hope I wasn’t too imaginative in writing my application materials!

Just what I needed to be worrying about over the holiday weekend. My interview is 11 a.m. Wed. (I chose the 1st slot).

First of all, they MUST interview each candidate, and most likely will ask exactly the same questions.

While they may, indeed have made a decision about your qualifications (they’d never be able to admit it), don’t sell yourself short- about 5 years ago, my boss stepped down w/o much notice, I was named the “interim” director while the board decided what to do, I did not have a majority ‘on my side’ (many saw me as a glorified secretary), but now, even the ones who were most concerned about my leadership have been won over by my impressive personality.

Absolutely wear a suit. You want them to see you taking this seriously, it’s not just another day at work.

Prepare by Thinking about your agencies goals, how they work towards them, etc.

be prepared for the infamous 'what do you like best/worst or best/worst attribute. questions. (I’d be happy to help with these)

Make sure you add some line in about knowing how much more you’d have to learn in order to do this job, even if (as in my case a number of times) you’d been actually doing it for a period of time.

Let me think some more, also if you have specific other questions…

wring, thanks for the response.

Mrs D. has been quizzing me with BS interview questions. Which is realy helpful since there is such a difference between pondering these things in your mind, and actually having to spit your thoughts out in cogent sentences.

One thing that is so wierd is that our bosses keep such a damn tight grip on so much info, and try to remain so unaccountale, that I really don’'t know what the hell they do all the time. So I can honestly admit how much I would have to learn.

I definitely am not a “fave” for this position. But the fact that they are bringing in 2 folk from outside the office should help if I am able to give a great interview. It is really inconceivable that they are scheduling interviews for the week between x-mmas and NY. Especially since 2 of the 5 folk in our office will be on vacation. They will be interviewing them the following week. So why not schedule all of the interviews for that week? Annd our bug boss has taken the inter-holiday week off each of the past 14 years. One possibility is they are trying to ram these promotions/hirings through before the new administration.

I’d love to talk to you more about this, but given the trememdous interest by the rest of the board, perhaps e-mail would be better. You can find mine in my profile. (Yours did not have one.)

A formalized process isn’t so bad–promotions here are pretty much a black box experience.

I’m not sure we can do much for you other than lending moral support–as I’m sure you know, you’ve got to stay fluid and be responsive to the particular personalities, nuances and questions as they happen/evolve at the time–engage them in a conversation. One can’t really prepare for this–it is a test of the candidate’s ability to interpret and understand people.

Stray thoughts–wring is right about wearing the suit. You really want the promotion, you’re serious about it, show it with your suit and demeanor. You might even state flat out that you want the promotion (no reason to be diffident about it). (Especially if you let your devastating humor show, you want to balance it with an energized seriousness to show you understand the importance of the position.)

I don’t see much significance to the timing of the interview, and I would not mention it in the interview–you are eager to make it convenient for them to promote you, and if that means a post-Christmas interview, so be it.

If we can attribute fairmindedness to your bosses, they probably established the process to try to give all candidates a level playing field–sure, they can’t ignore the extra information they have about the in-house candidates, but the interview also gives the in-house candidates an equal chance to screw-up and put themselves out of the running, just as the outside candidates can.

Here’s the question I always ask in interviews: “What are you reading right now, both professionally and for pleasure?” I also often ask, “Tell me what you do on a typical day at work,” and “tell me about your most memorable work case/project.”

(Of course, you may have some skills you might not want to mention;).)

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out–I find that a bottle of the good stuff has its uses for either outcome.

I’ll go with the rest and say for crikey sake wear a suit! The legal profession is a notoriously conservative one so I’d also say to make sure that your attire is suitably (as it were) moderate. Black, blue or grey suit with a white shirt and a subdued tie, nothing brazen. Cuff links would be too flashy and fer crissake no matching hanky!

You may wish to have some of your productivity numbers handy in case of the chance to trot them out. If there is a single page item that is a killer in terms of organizational diagram, case strategy or the like, (especially if it is a case that you won!) definitely have that along and with enough copies for all in the room.

Be prepared to talk about what you enjoy in your work. Always put positive spin on things. Be prepared to cite cases where you have managed teams or other groups. This will bolster your credibility as a potential manager. Try to do some homework on where your firm is headed. You may be able to exhibit some sort of vision about potential areas of expansion and new markets. Be careful with these ideas if they seem to step on the toes of the big wigs.

Most of all, try to be relaxed yet attentive. Speak clearly and measuredly and always think twice before speaking once. Try to read the room around you when you first arrive and avoid making closed statements that do not allow for further inquiry or mention. Always leave open more avenues of discussion.

Avoid like the plague any negative characterization of things or people. If asked to specifically to do so, keep it to a minimum. Even if your are given a chance to dump on your worst rival, avoid the temptation. Showing that sort of restraint will earn you far more points.

IMHO, you always wear a suit to an interview. The best advise I was ever given about interviewing is to never badmouth a former or current manager or co-worker, even if they deserve it. Zenster just mentioned it. Makes you look like a trouble maker.

I also agree with Zenster about the negativity, but disagree with spooje (sorry)about a suit always being necessary. While in this case, yes, and in many office settings, yes, there’s a whole host of other jobs that I think it’d be inappropriate to wear a suit to the interview - for example, wearing a suit to the interview for the quick oil lube joint - you probably won’t get hired (a former employee of mine ran one and tossed out an app from a guy who was overdressed) etc.

Thanks a lot, guys.

All right. I’ll wear the damn suit. Let’s see, should it be my thrilling charcoal chalk stripe, or the exciting blue glen plaid. And which of my white shirts should I wear? I’ve really bought into this casual dress thing, and our office has been getting a big kick out of the most recent Dilberts (“low productivity is due to comfortable pants!”)

I think there are a couple things that bothered me, and that I am gettingover with your help and the help of the inestimable Mrs D.

  1. It is hard for me to impute fairness to mgmt, given past performance. They have in the past had no qualms about favoritism, pursuing hidden agendas, and flat out lying. So the cynical part of me says this interviewing process is just a facade and that they have already pre-selected. For crying out loud - my big boss, and the other supervisors in my office have known me for a total of over 40 years! If they don’t have a damn good opinion by now about whether or not I’d be a good supervisor, that is a pretty damning commentary on their ability. And whether their opinion of me is favorable or un, I shouldn’t think a 1 hour interview should significantly outweigh the past 14 years one way or the other. My realist says they don’t think too strongly of me one way or another. Tho they appreciate that I am a workhorse, theyy also think I have a big mouth, and certainly have not been grooming me for promotion. Manwhile, thhere ARE other people who seem to have been invited into the “inner circle.” But, by starting to psych myself up and prepare a week in advance, I am convincing myself to give it my best shot. Who knows, given mgmt’s consistent historic incompetance, they might fuck up and hire me!

  2. I am convincing myself that my responses are in fact what I honestly think, instead of an act. Don’t know about you, but a large part of my job is putting on the appropriate face for various situations. And i will give a better interview if I believe what I am saying, instead of acting.

I agree wholeheartedly with the “no-dissing” rec. And believe me, I am NOT going to be making jokes. That’s something you learn quickly as a litigator - the judge can be a wiseguy, you do not have that luxury.

What I have been working on, and what I have found difficult, is putting my thoughts into concise responses. If someone asks, “Why would you be good for the job?”, I could BS on and on. But the goal is to present pithhy, concise responses, and then either offer to elaborate, or elaborate in the context of subsequent questions/discussion.

Fortunately, a lot of this has similarities to oral advocacy, which I excel at. So that gives me some confidence going in. (My big boss was at the 7th Cir a couple of weeks ago when I presented an outstanding argument in a very complex case, which doesn’t suck.) And, the good thing is, my present job doesn’t suck, so it won’t exactly kill me if I don’t get this promotion. So, I’ll give it my best shot, and enjoy my life whatever the results.

The charcoal chalk stripe, and the white shirt on the left (:D)

They have to treat each interview **exactly ** the same, even if they’ve known you all their lives and pre selected you. So, while they may indeed have an agenda etc, the facts about the interview would be the same regardless.

Agree with your #2

Like I suggested, medium length responses (why would you be good for the job should NOT be just answered by “because I’m really quite talented.”) It really does sound like you’ll do fine. one example per point.

excellent, and will be looking forward to the results. :smiley:

Now that was fun!
Grilled by 3 people for 60 minutes.
Man, I’m exhausted.
That is tough work!

Let’s see what questions I remember.

The first one was, Why do you want the job, and why would you be good at it?
Fortunately, Mrs D and I had worked on those very same questions, so I gave a kick ass answer right off the bat. Then they started getting more creative.

-A couple of sexual harassment scenarios
-A personality conflict scenario
-What are your 3 greatest leadership skills, and how did you develop them?
-If hired, how do you envision supervising co-workers who may also have applied?
-What 2 things gave you greatest feeling of accomplishment, explain the results obtained?
-How do you see government offices changing in the future?
-Given democraphic changes which will lead to hiogher workload and more competitive job market, how will you attract an retain best people?
-And a game! The one guy gave me 5 pieces of paper, saying Cliet satisfaction, Qiality of work, Acting Ethically, Employee Morale, and Quantity of Work. I was to put them in order of importance and explain why.

Think I did okay, tho. Didn’t fart or puke, or tell any off color jokes. There are 9 applicants for 1 or 2 positions. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for all your help.

Take the five pieces of paper and crumple them all together in your hands to form a ball. Then say “This ball is the finished product. Each of the traits is as important to the finished product, and if we are asked to take one from the ball, we must unravel the whole thing, to the detriment of the other four.”

I used to LOVE essay tests in school … bs’ing is a talent of mine. :wink:

excellent, thanks for the update.