Interview Tips for Securing a Level-Up Job

So you’re ready to take the next leap in your career. For some, this will mean getting promoted from your current position within a company. For others, it’ll mean starting a new job search for higher-level positions with new employers. 

While moving up within a company certainly isn’t easy, the process comes with advantages. For one, you already have relationships with people that can vouch for you at the company. Even if you move across departments, a glowing review from a manager or executive at the company will carry some weight. Secondly, it’s likely easier for your higher-ups to see what you’ve accomplished and understand why you’re ready for more responsibility. 

Securing a level-up job with a new employer is a different story. You’ll be competing against candidates who may have held similar titles at other companies for years, and you won’t have a team at the company that can vouch for you and your work. 

If you find yourself in this position, you will have to put yourself out there and be your biggest advocate. In this article, we’ll break down some helpful tips for landing a new job with a title change.

In this article…

The right— and wrong— way to apply for jobs

When applying for jobs, it can be tempting to do the one-click easy application on platforms like LinkedIn. 

Though this type of application is convenient, it probably won’t land you a level-up job. Chances are, hundreds of other candidates are applying via LinkedIn, meaning the hiring manager will have to sort through hundreds of profiles— some of which may appear to be more qualified than you based on the limited amount of information that the hiring manager will see. One resume or profile doesn’t give a complete picture of who you are as a person or candidate, nor does it let hiring managers know why you are right for that particular job.

Instead of applying for dozens of jobs with the one-click, choose a role and employer that you’re genuinely excited to work for and take time to apply. Focus on crafting a stellar resume and cover letter that showcases your skills and passion for the position. Because the one-click era of applying can be overwhelming, many hiring managers still use cover letters as a way to filter through and figure out which candidates genuinely want to work there. 

The search for candidates filling higher-level positions often tends to be largely network-based, so try to get in touch with those at the company that you would be working with if their information is available online. Something as simple as a 30-minute conversation over coffee with the hiring manager can set you miles ahead of other candidates who haven’t made an effort to make a personal connection or impression. 

woman handing resume to interviewer

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Be proactive in your interview process

If you get to interview with the company, be proactive in showing the hiring manager why you’re the best candidate for the job

Research, research, research

Researching the company is key to acing any job interview, no matter the position that you’re applying for. But when you’re interviewing for a position above your experience level, it’s especially important to learn everything you can about the company. 

Be sure to check out their website, social media, and recent news involving the company. Not only will this prepare you for any potential questions involving company specifics, but it will also help you better understand how to market your skills and abilities to the hiring manager.

Steer the interview

During the interview, don’t assume that you’ll be asked the right questions. Instead, put all of your cards on the table upfront. Steer the conversation— in a polite and subtle way, of course— in the direction that you’d like it to go. If you have something that you want to say about your experience or why you’re qualified for the job, don’t leave the interview without saying your piece.

RELATED: Prep for the Job You Want: What to Bring to an Interview

Create a presentation or sample project proposal

You can even take this a step further and create a customized project proposal or presentation to show the hiring manager and others who may interview you. 

Of course, what the proposal or presentation contains will depend on what position and industry you work in, but it should be relevant to the work you’d do if you were offered the job. For instance, if you are a product manager interviewing for a VP of Product role, you may put together a presentation of your philosophies on product development and leadership. You might also include some goals and actionable steps you’d take if you were offered the position at the company.

This tells the employer several things. For one, it shows your passion for the position and company. Secondly, it demonstrates how you take initiative. Lastly, going above and beyond like this can prove that you have the necessary skills to get the job done even if you’ve never held a position like this before.

woman giving presentation

Help the hiring manager derisk the decision to hire you

When you leave the interview, there will be conversations between managers and executives on who will be the best person to fill the role. There will likely be other candidates that have applied for the job that are a “safer bet” due to their level of experience and expertise. Use your interviews as an opportunity to address potential risks that the employer may see. 

To do this:

  • Emphasize the transferable skills from your past positions
  • Provide solid, reputable references for those who can vouch for your skills
  • Arm them with knowledge of what you’re capable of and the results you can achieve

Think of any reason why an employer might not want to hire you and find a way to break down that perception.

Be ready to share stories

Sure you can say that you have great leadership skills, but can you talk about specific instances where you’ve applied those skills? Come to your interview prepared with stories that showcase experience relevant to the role you’re applying for.

If you’re not sure how to construct your interview story structure, remember STAR. This acronym, which stands for situation, task, action, and result, is a framework for telling compelling stories about previous work experiences. Here’s a simple break down:

  • Situation: Start by setting the scene, providing context, and outlining the problem.
  • Task: Explain your role in the situation. What were you tasked with doing and what were your main responsibilities?
  • Action: Describe the specific actions you took to remedy the situation.
  • Result: Break down the results and what your actions achieved.

It’s also important to know your story as a whole. What motivates you and your work? What drives you day to day? Why are you excited about the role and the company? At the end of the day, the company is hiring a person— not a task robot. The employer will base their decision on emotion, as well as the facts. Do they believe that you have what it takes? Do they see potential in you to carry out this role to the fullest? Make sure you connect with the hiring team as people and not just as a potential employer. 

​​About JobSage

At JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around things that matter most to jobseekers— inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation. We want to help you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.