The Internal Interview: Advantages and Pitfalls

Managers interviewing a candidate

 
You just hit the submit button to apply for an internal position at your company. You feel good about it and are ready for a change. That is great! What could be easier than being a known candidate? You have your foot in the door, and you already know the managers so the internal interview will be a piece of cake. You may wonder why you even need an interview. It should be obvious that you will get the job, right? Wrong! Internal interviews can be just as tough (or tougher) than interviews with a new company. The hiring manager will expect you to know more than a guy off of the street. You will be held to a higher standard because you already work within the company. Keep the following internal interview tips in mind if you want to get the job.

 

Advantages of an Internal Interview

An internal interview is different than an external interview. In some ways you will have an advantage over an external candidate. In some ways you will not. Take advantage of the following principles when preparing for an internal interview.

You already know the company culture: You know how the company operates, and you know what the company values. This knowledge will give you a huge leg up on the external competition if you use it wisely. Incorporate the company culture into your internal interview by demonstrating that you possess the qualities and values that they desire. Anna O’Toole, Digital Media Analyst and interviewer from SEO works, suggests telling the interviewer why you love working for the company and how you already fit in with the existing culture.

You can use specific examples that the interviewer will be familiar with: When the interviewer asks questions, you can cite specific examples from your current role that the interviewer will be knowledgeable about. The hiring manager will understand and appreciate the relevant topics from an internal candidate so use this to your advantage.

You can use your existing relationships within the company to show your value: Feel free to name drop a little bit. Talk about your relationship with other people within the company. Mention the time you worked one on one with an executive manager or the time you were chosen to present a topic to the customer. Mention your interactions with other departments to show that you value the importance of interdepartmental relationships. You will be able to brag a little more as an internal candidate so take advantage of it.

 

What Assumptions You Should Avoid during an Internal Interview

Do not get overly confident because you are an internal candidate and you know the people you will be interviewing with. Here are some common pitfalls that many people believe. These can easily lead to you missing out on the job.

Internal interviews require less preparation than external interviews: You will know a lot more about the company and the position than a candidate external to the company, but this is no excuse for not doing your homework. You still need to research. Find out as much as you can about the hiring manager, the team you would be working with and the position itself. You should be able to connect with and talk to the person who previously held the position to find out how to impress the interviewer or what type of internal interview questions to expect. Take advantage of the fact that you already work for the company. Show up to the interview ready to answer tough internal interview questions such as why you are interested in the position or what you will bring to the team.

You don’t need a resume: You cannot assume that your potential new boss is already familiar with your history and accomplishments. Update your resume as if you were an external candidate. Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for and incorporate your successes with the company to date. Be prepared to walk through your experience within the company as well as previous outside experience.

You can dress and act as you would on a regular day: You may think that because you know the company and likely the interviewer that you can dress and act as you would any day of the workweek, but this simply is not the case. Dressing for an interview is the same whether this is an internal or external position. The last thing you want to do is give the impression this is just another day on the job. This is a new position, and you need to dress and act the part. The hiring manager could get the wrong impression if you are too relaxed. O’Toole recommends that you remain professional during the interview even if you are friends with the hiring manager. She warns that the interviewer might see relaxation as a sign you do not really care about the position.

Hiring managers know that it is easier and quicker to hire an internal candidate, but this does not guarantee that you will have the advantage. It is in the best interest of the interviewer to find the best person for the job even if that means a little extra paperwork. You will need to demonstrate that you are the right fit and that you will bring success to the team if you want to land the job.

This article was written by Melissa Ricker, an Engineering Manager and Technical Writer who covers career topics for JobHero.