How to Ace an Internal Interview Like A Pro

Applying for a new position at a company where you already work poses unique advantages and disadvantages. The biggest mistake people make is to shortchange the process. It is important to position yourself just as competitively as any candidate from outside the company to be successful.

You have probably heard that up to 80% of job openings go unadvertised. One of the best things about focusing on where you work is that you can access loads of inside information and discover opportunities before they are posted.

Of course, you still must prove that you’re the right choice. Ace your internal interview by following these steps for every stage in the process.

Steps to Take Before Your Interview

1. Review your company’s hiring history. See how many managers started out in the mailroom, literally or figuratively. It shows a genuine commitment to promoting from within.

2. Be selective. You have more at stake when you are dealing with your employer rather than an anonymous job board. Focus on the best opportunities for you.

3. Inform your current supervisor. It is usually good to let your boss know your plans. Asking for their advice may encourage them to be supportive.

4. Consult with coworkers. You are in an ideal position to learn all you can from the hiring manager, people in other departments, and other contacts. Discover what is really behind the job description.

5. Update your resume. Craft your resume and cover letter to be as impressive as possible. Highlight your top accomplishments. Proofread everything thoroughly or ask a friend to take a second look.

Steps to Take During Your Interview

1. Be professional. Treat the session as an interview, even if you are talking with an old friend. Use the time to make your best case. You can be friendly and casual while still discussing substantive matters.

2. Dress up. One of the most obvious ways to look professional is to dress the part. Even if you have a casual dress code, go a step or two up for the interview. Pay extra attention to your hair, skin, and accessories.

3. Ask lots of questions. However, much you know about the company, there is more information to find out. Clarify the specific responsibilities and performance expectations. Identify the most urgent priorities that the hiring manager has on their mind. Even as an internal candidate, you should enter the interview with prepared, thoughtful questions.

4. Explain your qualifications. Even if you think the interviewer already knows you, summarize your capabilities. Be prepared to give details. There may be aspects of your past that he or she has never seen before. Sometimes leaders (because they are people too) assume that they know everything about you, just as you might assume you know everything about the position and company.

5. Differentiate yourself from the competition. If you know who else is applying, talk about what makes you different. Spell out the contribution you would make.

6. Manage your reputation. You may need to describe how you could excel in a different role from the way people are used to seeing you. Be candid about past errors and explain how you have learned from them.

Steps to Take After Your Interview

1. Respond graciously. If someone else gets the job, your company may be concerned with how you will handle the disappointment. Demonstrate a positive attitude regardless of the outcome.

2. Thank your interviewer. Start by expressing your gratitude for the time and attention you received from the hiring manager. Let everyone who helped you know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness and efforts.

3. Plan for your transition. Think ahead about what you will do if you get selected. Even though you are staying in the same building, there will be plenty of unfamiliar demands. Assist the person taking over your old responsibilities and get off on the right foot in your new role.

Pursuing internal openings provides a smart way to advance your career and demonstrate your company’s long-term commitment.

At Deep End Talent Strategies, we offer various tools to help internal and external job seekers land that new job! Learn More.