How to Interview for an Internal Position
Your boss announces that the company will be adding a mid-level manager to your department and wants to fill the position with “an internal candidate.” You might be thinking you’re a shoo-in. You’ve been there five years, have a great track record and a good relationship with your boss ….
Hiring from within is a great way for companies to fill positions. Internal candidates come with knowledge that usually helps them make a smooth transition and a fast start. The biggest piece of advice to the internal candidates: Take these interviews seriously. You are not necessarily a shoo-in.
- The position you have your eye on might take you out of your department. Let your current boss know you’re interested. You might even ask his or her advice on how best to spotlight your achievements.
- Find out about the job. Being inside the company puts you in a unique position to get information. Ask questions about the expectations, challenges, and responsibilities. Ask colleagues or set up a fact-finding interview with your HR department. This information will give you ideas for talking points during the interview. If you don’t know the person you’ll be interviewing with well, try to get information on him or her.
- Know what others think of you. A trusted colleague can give you candid information — good and bad. A great reputation in one area might even mean that people can’t imagine you in this new role. Once you understand the perception, be prepared to reshape it. “I realize that my past position didn’t give me much of a chance to use strategic thinking. Here are some things I’ve been working on …”
- Update your résumé. Your résumé should have changed since you got the original job with this company. Include details that highlight skills you uncovered when you were asking questions and getting details about the job responsibilities.
- Be comfortable, but don’t chitchat. This is not lunch with your best friend. Give direct and concise answers.
- Be prepared to address mistakes. An internal interview means everything is out in the open — the good and any bad. Talk about what went wrong and what you learned, and don’t be defensive or blame others.
- Talk about work experience you’ve had prior to coming to the company. Your current work might be an open book … but not what came before.
- Some questions you might encounter: What do you like/dislike about your current position? What are your successes in that position? What do you know about our department? What’s it like working for your current boss? Why do you think you’re a good fit for this position?
- Be sure to summarize why you are suited for this position. Give supporting proof. You could work this in at the end of the interview when you are asked if you have any remaining questions.
- And ask when a decision will be made, so you’ll know when to follow up.
- Send a thank-you note and email. Follow the same guidelines you would if you were an outside candidate.
- Do not ask about your application before the decision-making date you got in the interview. You may see the person you interviewed with many times prior to that — keep the conversation about work or small talk.
Promoting from within gives companies a great pool of candidates. It gives you a chance to advance your career. Treat internal interviews with the same level of professionalism and preparation you would any interview … and get that next promotion!