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If you’re very career-driven, you may be interested in working your way up in the company where you currently work. Most people consider having the ability to move up in a company an important decision-making factor in whether they stay with the position or if they pursue a job opportunity in the first place. This is a chance to put into action all the experiences and skills (many of which you may have learned in your current position) at a new level and with higher pay. Though a promotion generally comes with more responsibilities, interviewing for a new role is a chance to show you’re ready for these new responsibilities after months or years of working for a company.
If you’ve been offered a promotion or a chance to move to a better position at your company, then you’ll need to do an internal interview. An internal interview is an interview within your current company instead of interviewing at a completely different company. Because of this, you may even be interviewed by someone you know, which can be a bit tricky. Here’s how to prepare for what is a unique type of interview and make that new job official.
1) Talk to Your Current Manager
In many situations, the reason an employee is subject to an internal interview is because they’ve demonstrated hard work and commitment to both the job and the company, and they're ready to move up. Perhaps the reason you’re preparing for an internal interview is because you were actually recommended for the open position, maybe by your current manager. If that’s the case, then you know that you already have your manager’s support.
However, if you’re interested in interviewing for a position that your manager doesn't know about, it’s important to talk about your interest with them. Interviewing for an internal position without their knowledge can upset your manager, which can in turn impact your chances of landing the job. Good rapport is expected all around.
2) Understand Why You’re Interviewing for This Position
Even though you may have been recommended for the position, ask yourself if you really want the job in the first place. You’ll need to understand what you’re going to be interviewing for and why you’ve been recommended.
If that’s not the case, and you’re interviewing for a new internal position, you’ll also have to ask yourself why. Is it because you want a change of pace, or are you just interested in a higher paycheck? There are no wrong or right answers, but knowing this about yourself can help you better prepare.
3) Update Your Resume
Should you update your resume if you’re going into an internal interview? You may be wondering if that’s necessary, considering your office or company already has your original resume on file.
But, considering that you’re applying for a new position, they’ll want to see what you’ve learned so far from your experiences within the company. They also will be interested in experiences you’ve had before your current position that could be beneficial to the role.
4) Don’t Make Any Assumptions
While it’s true that in many circumstances the internal interview is more of a formality (especially if you’re confident you’ve already been selected for the position), that’s not always the situation. You’ll still need to treat the internal interview just as seriously as you would any other interview, because internal candidates are often competing against other internal candidates and external candidates as well.
Don’t assume that the job will automatically be handed you. You still need to take the internal interview seriously.
5) Know Your Reputation
If you’re competing against external candidates, take some time to ponder your reputation at the company. Unlike a new candidate from outside who is more or less a blank slate, an internal candidate is a different story. The person or persons interviewing you already know a lot about you and your work performance.
This reputation can create obstacles for you, whether your reputation is good or bad. For instance, if everyone considers you to be the best team player at the company, it can be hard for the interviewers to see you acting as an individual in a leadership role. Being aware of this before you go into the internal interview can help you manage their preconceived notions about you.
6) Do Your Research
Though you may already be aware of the position you’re interviewing for, you still need to do your research. This is where you can have a major advantage. While you should take a look at the official job description, you can also consider meeting with HR briefly to discuss their expectations for the role before the interview.
7) Use Your Knowledge of the Company to Your Advantage
You’ve already been working at the company longer than any external candidate. You know the ins and outs of the company, the daily routine, the expectations, and the composition of your team. You know the company culture and the type of personality HR likes. You can use this knowledge to your advantage during your internal interview, but be careful in how heavily you lean on it.
8) Be Professional
In addition to not making assumptions about the position and the internal interview itself, you’ll also need to remember to be as professional as possible. Even if your company has a very laid-back style and the mood around the office is casual, it’s still important to maintain a sense of professionalism. Dress appropriately, shake hands, be prepared and behave the same as you would in any other interview.
9) Prepare to Answer Questions and Ask Questions
A large part of being prepared for an internal interview is knowing the types of questions you’ll likely be asked. Though these questions will differ from the questions an external candidate would be asked, it’s still helpful to have some expectations:
- “Why do you want to get promoted?”
- “Why should we choose you over other candidates?”
- “What are you looking forward to in this new role? What concerns do you have?”
- “What have you learned from your time at the company thus far that would make you the right person for this position?”
- “Do you feel ready to leave your current role?”
- “What ideas and/or strategies do you have for your first 30 days on the job?”
In the same manner, in addition to preparing for questions that you’ll be asked, you’ll also have to come up with questions to ask the interviewers, as is the standard in any interview. Though it may feel awkward to do this in an internal interview, some questions you can ask are:
- “What kind of management style would help me succeed in this role?”
- “What type of experience/skill set/portfolio would be ideal for this job?”
- “How will my day-to-day routine in this role differ from my current one?”
- “Why have you chosen me to interview for this position?”
10) Demonstrate Your Desire for the Opportunity
Last but not least, although as an internal candidate you already have a leg up, you’ll still need to demonstrate your personal desire for the opportunity. This goes back to understanding why you’re interviewing for the position. This is your chance to be honest and forthcoming, but with respect to the position itself.
For instance, if you’re looking for a pay raise, you could word it by saying something like_, “I am looking for a position where I’m going to be truly valued for what I can bring to this company.”_ At the end of the day, even though a higher position may look promising, some employees often feel more comfortable in their current role. Consider this before going into your internal interview.