Updated June 8, 2023
An internal interview is when a company considers promoting an existing employee to a higher position instead of hiring someone new from the outside. This gives the employees a chance to advance their careers within the company.
“When presented with an open door in your job, drive a Mack truck through it,” says the battle-tested leader, author, and speaker Miles Anthony Smith. Why not? Many people work diligently in the office, even overtime – without getting recognized or noticed. So, if an opportunity comes knocking at your door, do not hesitate.
A job promotion you deserve typically does not land on your platter easily, even if you are a well-recognized employee.
In Simple Words…
You were through the interview when you got hired by the company, right? What is the big deal about doing it all over again when you already know the company? If you are thinking along those lines, know that this is the mistake many employees make when facing an internal interview. Since the interviewer is someone they see around the water cooler or the cafeteria, they do not take the interview seriously, thus jeopardizing a good promotion that would have worked in their favor.
No matter how familiar or friendly your superiors are, they can grill you like a first-time applicant when interviewing you for a higher position. The question is, will you be ready for this? Or did you take this as a routine before getting your promotion letter?
Since your company knows you, the internal interview will differ from a job application interview. The judges know your flaws, so they won’t be surprised by your skill or talent. When you applied for the job, they knew you only through the information you provided them through your resume. After your tenure as an employee of the company, you have shown them the value of those certificates, your work ethics and principles, your adaptability, and your creative ability to handle issues. Also, they are familiar with your temperament and characteristics; hence they already have some perception towards you which can either be positive or negative. The challenge is to brand yourself and create a package that can be tempting.
Your advantage is your panel knowledge to impress your interviewers, who will evaluate you for the position. If you know some scoops and rumors running around, you may know what the interview will be like. If you put in enough effort, you will collect information about the interview beforehand.
Let us go Step by Step for an Internal Interview
- Consult and seek counseling from your boss
- Ensure you are making a right choice
- Re-do and revamp your resume
- Gather information
- Give it a professional approach
- Prove your competency
- Show your desire and enthusiasm
Step #1 – Consult
Before considering a new position in the office, evaluate how it will affect your present department. Talk about this issue with your senior manager and seek advice/ guidance before you embark on your journey for promotion.
Do not burn the bridge; you may have to walk back on again. If your current boss learned from other sources that you are looking for a better position when he needs you, they might not be happy when you go back to work for him if the promotion does not work out for you. Remember, the job is not in your bag yet.
Aiming for a higher position in the same company completely differs from chasing after a job in a new place. You are not walking away from your previous colleagues and boss. Let your relationship be trusting, cordial, and friendly with the previous department.
Step #2 – Be Sure about the Choice
Though an internal interview will be something similar, the outcome will not have the same impact on your career. After attending a new job interview in a new organization, you often have a choice of whether you would prefer to take the new job. You must know that your company will assume you are ready for the job. When it comes to an internal interview, the company will expect you to accept the offer once you are selected since you already know the job, company culture and values, travel arrangements, and other relevant things. Hence, nothing can stop you from accepting the offer after attaining your salary raise expectations.
Job descriptions are supposed to lure candidates. Therefore, if you do not desire to spoil the cordial relationship you share with your employers, ensure you want the position you are applying for before you attend the interview. If you are doubtful, do not go for it. Consider the job perks, challenges, performance demands, and expectations before you move ahead.
The HR department will be willing to guide you if you approach them with your queries. Set your career path with proper guidance and help.
If you refuse a job after attending an internal interview, it seriously hampers your chances of being considered for a promotion in the future.
Step #3 – Re-do your Internal Interview Resume
Your resume, which you submitted when you joined the company, needs a serious facelift.
The position you applied for earlier was different. It is high time to change your profile for the better. Moreover, you have gained quite some experience and developed interpersonal skills. Customize your resume to fit the new position. Do not come out as a show-off but add your achievements in your tenure as the employee in the previous post.
If you have irrelevant or insignificant information, take it off your resume. The less and more specific data will be relatable. Honestly, no one loves an overload of information because it is boring to read through. When skipping some content, they may miss some important points as well. Highlight areas that need attention.
You must include points proving your candidature for the position they are considering. Even though it is an internal job interview, do not take your employers for granted and do things half-measure. Aim for the job as if doing it for the first time. Show your desire and passion through your profile.
Step #4 – Collect Information
You often hear it from the grapevine before the big announcement for a position is made openly in your office. If you hear about a position in any other department in your office which fits you like a glove, start checking it out.
Even if it takes 2 or 3 extra coffees or hanging around the water cooler longer, collect information regarding the new position requirement, interview methods, and the judging panel as much as possible. Find out who the hiring manager is, which team you will be joining with your new position, and, more importantly – who was the employee who left the vacant post and why they left. There could be a hidden warning.
Access to internal information is where the inside person comes in handy and works in your favor.
You should understand that others interested in the position are trying to gather information and have the upper hand at the interview. Try to be helpful but refrain from discussing your preparations, plans, or ideas with others.
The inside information will give you an edge over external candidates if your company is considering them for an interview.
Step #5 – Be a thorough Professional
With your familiarity and close relationship with your colleagues, you need a completely professional approach to the internal interview. It is easier said than done. Try to be as professional with your approach as possible, including job interview preparation, creating your resume, dressing up for the occasion, and entering the venue.
Refrain from assuming that the interviewer’s panel will know about your achievements in the company. Make sure you bring it to their notice through your answers or resume. Ensure you answer every question they ask without saying, “You know that about me.” Give precise, direct, and concise answers to the internal interview questions without elaborating on data.
Show them you have it in you what they are looking for. Do not come out as a person who already has assumed to have got the job because that can work negatively for you.
Also, avoid being too casual or friendly in your approach, but that doesn’t mean you act as though you do not recognize the people in front of you or act too stiff. Remember that people do not often prefer a ‘Know it all.’ Mind your body language and poise, and prove you are the right candidate for the job.
Step #6 – Prove your Competency
You know that you have competitors from within your company and outside, against whom you will evaluate for your competency. Now you must differentiate yourself from other candidates by showing the judges what you can offer them that others in the competition cannot. Prove that you have the upper hand. Do some self-evaluation to know what can help you prove your competency for the job.
No one will hire you in today’s highly competitive world unless you give them a reason to hire you. Gather all evidence pointing to your professional experience, expertise, and excellence at the job.
Subtly draw panelists’ attention to your achievements in the present organization and your previous professional experiences, if you have any. Include pieces of evidence in your CV.
In an internal interview, it makes sense to mention your weakness since the panelists might already know them. The idea is to tell them how you plan to overcome your drawbacks or what strategies you have developed to fight your weakness. In the same manner, they will be aware of your strengths as well. All you have to do is point out how you will use your skills and strengths to improve your productivity in the new position.
Step #7 – Show your Desire
Gone are the days of being humble and simple. Today, the world belongs to the people who blow their own trumpets.
Do not shy away from telling the panelists why ‘you’ considered yourself for the job position. Tell them how much you desire the job and why you want the new position. Wear your enthusiasm and passion on your sleeve.
Ensure that the panelists will not assume that you applied for the job for a pay increase or just because it was available. Ensure you have enough substantiation that you want the job and are eager to be hired.
Step #8 – Wait
After the internal interview, write a ‘Thank You’ note to your panelists for their time and for considering you for the position. Though emails are good enough in the tech era, handwritten notes carry more weight. Make sure to point out some outstanding moments from the interview in your mail.
Only follow up on the results to an extent where the HRD will start avoiding you. You have done your job, and results will come to your table sooner or later.
The best way is to continue your present position enthusiastically until you have bagged the coveted job.
Sitting on the edge of the chair or looking at your watch too often does not speed up the pace of how things work. Relax and breathe easy.