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The Top Interview Questions for an Interdepartmental Interview

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Although interdepartmental interviews may contain fewer surprises than external interviews, they may be more nerve wracking. First, the stakes of an interdepartmental interview are usually high -- you are probably seeking promotion or attempting to avoid a layoff. Second, if you tank an interdepartmental interview, you must usually continue to work with your interviewers regardless of whether or not you get the new job.

Tell Us About Yourself/Why Are You Best for the Job?

As an internal applicant, you may assume that the person interviewing you already knows enough about you to make her job recommendation. However, you still need to be prepared to introduce yourself as a candidate for the job for which you are applying and to give a quick synopsis of how your particular skills and accomplishments make you perfect for the position. This is important because your answer to this question will help your interviewer recollect specific projects you have done to improve the workplace, and will show that you have confidence and faith in your work.

What Needs Improvement?

One of the advantages of hiring an interdepartmental rather than external candidate is the fact that the you, as the current employee, are familiar with the organization. While this does mean that you would need less training, it does suggest that you have at least a few ideas of what is and is not working in the company.

During the interview, don't be afraid to address issues that you see as needing work within your department and the one for which you are interviewing. However, do so with tact. Take a thematic problem-solution approach, naming the problem and its potential cause -- not a person but the issue that person represents, e.g., "leadership issues" -- and immediately recommending a solution. Do not blame another co-worker or complain about the problems the issue causes you.

Hypothetical Questions

Especially because they have seen how you handled problems in your current position, your interdepartmental interviewers will want to know how your process will be different if given the new position. Therefore you may be asked to describe how you would handle a specific problem in the new department or how you would conduct yourself in a typical situation. Take a moment to think before you answer this question. Then respond in a manner appropriate to the desired position. For example, if you currently manage the accounting department and are applying to head the marketing department, think about how handling a consistently belligerent employee in finance would differ from handling one in marketing.

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Usually the conclusion of any interview occurs when the interviewer asks the interviewee if she has any questions. Just because you work at the same facility does not mean that you should not have questions for the interviewer. In fact, having questions shows that you are genuinely interested in the job and have enough experience to be aware of industry- or company-related issues of concern. These questions may pertain to how the department in which you are applying interacts with your current department, to goals, to resources or to how problems are handled.


Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.