I’m an internal hire – help me

I’ve heard it before, and I’ve seen it in my own company- internal hires just don’t get promoted compared to external hires.  It does happen, and here’s a way to position yourself to avoid the dreaded- “we like you, but this role just isn’t for you”.

There are two fundamental reasons I feel internal candidates don’t get hired. The number one mistake that I see is that the internal job candidate doesn’t treat the interview seriously enough. The second is the internal candidates weaknesses and mistakes made in learning the ropes are all on display- the external candidates weaknesses are clearly well hidden.

Internal candidates  have been with the company for a number of years, there is a certain level of subconscious comfort and confidence.  But internal job candidates rarely treat interviews half as seriously as external job candidates. And often the HR team or hiring manager are similarly less serious with internal candidates.

For candidates,  the interview expectations are HIGHER for an internal job candidate than they are for an external candidate. The internal job candidate should present better and should know more than any external candidate.

Unfortunately, based on the interviews I have conducted, 90% of the time, the external candidates treat the interview much more seriously than their internal job candidate counterparts.

Performing only a little better in the interview versus your external competition just isn’t good enough.  The internal job candidate with a few years in the job should know more about the department, culture, company and challenges of the position on offer.

Here is what an external candidate will do when applying : research the business thoroughly, will be dressed deliberately/appropriately for the hiring interview and will show all the interviewers respect. External candidates will come in with a mentality that they are one out of 50 candidates interested in the position and their effort will reflect these odds and  treat this interview as if it is the only interview they will have in the next 3 months or as a position they wanted as badly as you wanted your current position.

Internal candidates typically may or may not know anyone in the hiring department, but they probably won’t leverage their network of co-workers to land an introduction to the hiring manager. Most times the first meeting with the hiring manager will have with the internal candidate will be the actual interview, which shows a lack of preparation.  The internal candidate will typically assume their current knowledge is enough and no additional research is required and will dress the same way they did every day of the week. This is just another Monday in the office for the internal candidate. Internal job candidates are not worried about the 50 external candidates, they are ONLY wondering if there are any other internal candidates and often treat the interview with the attitude that if they don’t get the job, they still have their existing position so display a “nothing to lose” attitude.

Here are my top four tips for internal job candidates

1. Treat this as an external interview. Prepare for the interview, network with the hiring department, research the role, put together a case of how you will add value. Dress appropriately. Treat the hiring manager with due respect. Act like an external candidate and impress.

2. Give the right reasons for requesting a transfer.  Showing genuine interest for what the new department is trying to do is paramount.

3. Your promotion needs to add value to the department and manager.   Show that the new position is a career path that will not only help you but more importantly present clearly to the hiring manager exactly how you will add value to the department. As a candidate, you need to prove you will add value.

4. Expect to wait for an opening. Just because you are ready for a transfer right NOW, doesn’t mean the hiring department is ready for you. Be prepared to wait for the opportunity and this could take months.

Internal transfers should be the easiest way to land a new job.  Too many internal job candidates treat these interviews as if they are owed the role and not earned.  If you don’t believe me, think of how much an external candidate would love to be an internal job candidate so they could leverage all that insider knowledge.

Have you interviewed any internal candidates? Please share your views with us.

One Reply to “I’m an internal hire – help me”

  1. When i once interviewed a talented, well recommended internal candidate, he never showed any interest in my challenges, and how he could help solve them; only intetested in his own career development….the high flyers can be too confident!

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