How to Effectively Prepare for an Internal Job Opening

There are times in almost everyone’s life where they reach a bit of a plateau in their careers and the heart starts getting restless. If the thought of hitting the internet for a new job with another company makes you want to poke your eyes out, have you checked for an internal job opening within your own company? Internal job openings offer a lot of benefits to you, but getting interviewed for one won’t be automatic.

There are lots of reasons why companies do hire from within. Mostly because it:

  • Saves time and money
  • Improves morale when employees see their peers advance
  • Allows the new hire (you) get up to speed much quicker
  • Increases productivity
  • Is easier to assess a candidate’s qualifications

Changing jobs within a company can come with a lot of advantages—a bigger paycheck, more responsibility and career growth. Even if you’re just making a lateral move by transferring to another department, at least you’ll gain additional skills (NEVER a bad thing) and you could be leaving behind a job that become too boring. The surge of excitement you get for work often offsets the fact that pay raises don’t always accompany lateral movement.

But first things first … preparing for an internal job interview the most effective way. Do not thing that you are a shoo-in just because you have a history with the company. Others might be wanting that job and unless an internal candidate knocks it out of the park, many companies will also open it up job listings to external candidates. However, experts advise internal candidates to take the preparation, interview and follow-up just as seriously as you would if you were applying for a job somewhere else.

Here are some tips to help you make the best impression:

PREPARE

  • 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.

INTERVIEW

  • Be comfortable, but don’t chit-chat. 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

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!

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