I’ve had three memorable candidates in the last two years interview for positions to try and get a "foot in the door" for higher-level positions by getting an interview. (In all cases, Director titles.) In no instance was there a Director role open, nor was there ever any conversation with either me OR the hiring manager about the possibility of the role being up-leveled in the near future (in fact, one of the roles reported to the existing Director!)
The first candidate was a very smooth talker. We had concerns about bringing him in, but he was a domain expert and had worked at a direct competitor so was very familiar with the space. His attitude once he got onsite was…"smarmy" is the best descriptor. He schmoozed up to anyone with a title, and talked down to the IC’s (Individual Contributors) he would be potentially managing. I closed him out after his interviews, and he was convinced he had done stellar. He was shocked when we declined him.
The second candidate was actually someone we wanted to hire. We made him an offer, but even after I, the hiring manager and the group Director had conversations with him (all of us telling him the same thing, that the offer on the table was our best and final offer) he *still* tried to get more money and a bigger title.
Finally, a candidate that was a submittal from a third party (agency) to an Engineering Manager position went through two phone calls and a full round of interviews, and then when an offer was presented he tried to indicate that he wasn’t interested in the role he had interviewed for, he wanted something with "more scope, more responsibility." When I explained to him that this wasn’t an option, his was response was very telling: "If there’s nothing HR can possibly do to innovate and adapt for this particular case, it’s then my turn to… wait for a better role fit later down the road if at all possible." The response from the SVP? "Please flag the profile, because we don’t want candidates who are negotiating for higher positions deliberately after interviewing to be a part of our company."
It is perfectly fine to look at external opportunities with an eye towards a promotion, especially if you aren’t making any headway with your current employer. But trying to apply for a job, especially any sort of people management position and then trying to turn it into something much greater at the interview/offer stage leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the recruiter and hiring team.
Sometimes it *is* possible to get a "Sr." uplevel. Perhaps you have been an Operations Manager for eight years; it is entirely possible and plausible that you might be upleveled to a Senior Operations Manager. The process needs to start with a frank conversation with the recruiter/hiring manager at the BEGINNING of the process, not well down the road to interviews and offer negotiations. If you try that tactic, you are going to earn yourself a reputation for dishonesty and underhandedness.