Preparing For an Internal Interview 5 Tips
Heading into an interview with an unknown company is nerve-racking enough. But what if you’re interviewing within your company? It sounds like it should be easier, but in fact the internal interview is a difficult one to get right because of the balancing act involved. We look at the things you need to keep in mind to prove that you’re the perfect candidate for that promotion.
Don’t get complacent
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you know what the job entails because you understand the company. But an interviewer will be looking for more than that, and may expect more of you than an outside candidate precisely because of your insider knowledge. Use it wisely to prepare for the interview, including speaking to colleagues who have held similar roles previously. That will enable you to ask pertinent questions about the role and its challenges in the interview, which is always to your advantage.
Speak to your current boss first
This is a delicate area in some companies, where alerting your manager to the fact that you’re looking to move can backfire. We’d argue, though, that the risk of your boss finding out about your intentions is exponentially higher where the potential new job is within the same company. This is doubly true if you follow our advice and do your homework about the role. And even if he or she doesn’t figure it out ahead of time, you still have to see them in the hallway. So following a consultation with your HR leader, request a confidential meeting with your boss. Let them know that you’re intending to interview and highlight how the role aligns with your goals and passions. As a manager, they should want to see you succeed within the company.
Lay the groundwork
The chance to make a great first impression may have vanished years ago, but you’ve still got an excellent opportunity to ensure that your reputation is positive. If you know there’s an interview coming up, make sure you’re performing at your very best in the weeks prior. That doesn’t mean sucking up to leaders, but it does mean making sure you’re punctual, organised and first in line to take on extra tasks. Your potential new leaders and HR team will be far more conscious of your doings during this time.
Don’t make any assumptions about what people know about you
Even if you’ve been at a company for years, don’t assume that anyone is familiar with your work and accomplishments. Bring your resume, work samples, and an internal reference list—it’s a great way to demonstrate your interest and credibility within the organisation. You should also be ready to talk about your prior experience outside of the company. They may know you, but they may not know (or remember) much about what you’ve done before.
Strike the right balance of formality and familiarity
The interview may be performed by someone from HR that you hardly know, or it might be attended by your best work buddy from two floors up. In either case, you should be as polite and formal as you would be within an external interview. You’re asking to be considered on your merits, not because you’ve shared Friday beers a few times. That said, try not to come across as so stiff – formal but friendly is the tone to strike here. On a similar note, make sure you’re dressed the part and step it up from your day-to-day work attire. Yes, even if it’s Casual Friday.
What do you think?
Have you successfully or unsuccessfully applied for an internal transfer? What were your biggest learning from the experience? Comment to share your tips.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Career Attraction