Preparing for an internal interview

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 15:44
The key skills to list on your post-MBA résumé

Internal interviews are easy, right? After all, they have already hired you once and you’ve got a reputation that speaks for itself. This should be a walk in the park...

While there are definite advantages to being an internal candidate, you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s likely to be some well-qualified and highly experienced external candidates vying for the same position. If you really want to take advantage of your head start, here are a few tips to help you get ready for your interview.

Talk to your current manager

A great manager will understand and empower you to take the next step in your career. Many employees may avoid speaking with their manager about an internal opportunity because they might fear a confrontation or feel they are disappointing their current team. In some cases, your manager may be disappointed that you’re considering other positions but it’s unlikely they’ll take your decision personally. Remember that it’s better to speak up to your manager about your plans than to have them find out second-hand.  Your current manager is also one of your best resources in preparing for an interview as they can provide you with the ideal reference and can potentially offer you advice on how to tackle some likely interview questions.

Investigate the role

One of the greatest advantages of being an internal candidate is your access to internal resources and people. Revisit documents such as monthly reports and budgets to understand where the hiring manager and your predecessor have previously achieved success and where they’ve been struggling. There’s no harm in also speaking to the hiring manager directly or members of their team to ask questions as this will highlight your interest and demonstrate that you are taking the interview process seriously.

Top tip: the hiring manager will be interested in hearing your ideas for potential improvements so be prepared to explain how you’ll bring an original approach to the role.

Pretend it’s an external interview

This may seem self-explanatory but it’s easy to cut corners when you feel too comfortable. Put yourself in the shoes of external candidates - what would you wear, bring and say if you were trying to make a good first impression?

  • Dress up for the day as this will again send the message that you mean business about taking on the role. 
  • Bring physical samples of work you’ve completed for your current organisation, as well as in previous roles.
  • Prepare to talk about the projects you’ve completed in other organisations. While the people in the interview may know you well, they probably don’t know your prior work history intimately.
  • Thank the interviewers for their time and for considering you for the role. Even if you’re likely to bump into them later that week in the lunchroom, they’ll still appreciate an email that demonstrates your gratitude and enthusiasm.

Like any interview process, there’s always a chance you might not get the role. Be realistic about your chances and understand that if you aren’t successful, it isn’t personal. Either way, going through the process of an internal interview is valuable for your career with the organisation as it demonstrates your desire for progression and automatically puts you into consideration for other roles when they arise.

Take your career to new heights with a Short Course or Vocational Qualification from AIM. View our available courses at Looking for a more in-depth qualification? Why not look into completing your MBA with AIM Business School?