How to Prepare for an Internal Interview 2022

How to Prepare for an Internal Interview 2022

What Is an Internal Interview?

If you want to change jobs or move up in the corporation in which you are working, you will probably need to attend an internal interview. An internal interview takes place inside your current place of employment, with people you likely already know.

An internal interview is used for the same purpose as an external one: to find someone to fill an empty position. It can also be a promotion interview, where the candidate has applied for a higher position within the company they work for. Many employers are happy that their employees are choosing to stay in the company and want to see them grow and succeed.

By hiring internally, the company knows what type of employee they are getting already, and a lot of the guesswork is gone. There is also less orientation and job training needed.

You will likely face some of the same interview questions as external candidates, such as:

  • Why have you applied for this position?
  • What are your goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in several years?
  • What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses?

However, there may also be questions more specific to the internal interview, about:

  • What you feel you have done well in your current role
  • What mistakes you feel you may have made
  • What you feel you would do differently in the role you are interviewing for

You should also be prepared for the possibility that you will not get the job and you must continue to work there, alongside people who know you applied for the job.

What to Expect at an Internal Interview

There are similarities and differences between internal and external interviews. The key difference is that external interviews deal with applicants outside of the company, while internal ones involve applicants who already work within the company.

Even though you may know, or even work with, the people who will be interviewing you during an internal interview, it is important to treat it as a formal, professional situation, and be well prepared.

You will probably be interviewed by a supervisor and your direct manager. If it is a position that carries much responsibility, there may be several interviewers.

With an internal interview, your interviewer may already be aware of your work ethic and professional reputation.

How to Prepare for an Internal Interview

Just like an external interview, there are several steps you should take to prepare for an internal interview.

Be Well Prepared

Being an internal applicant, you may feel that you know all there is to know about the position. However, it is important to take the time to thoroughly research what the job entails and what your duties would be.

As an internal applicant, you are in a good position to research the job. You can speak with your predecessor, learn about their duties and responsibilities and find out what they feel are the position’s biggest challenges.

Inform Your Employer

If you are an internal applicant, your current supervisor is likely to find out that you are looking to leave your position. It is more professional that they hear it from you first.

You could take this opportunity to discover how they feel about your performance. If they are also involved with the new position, you could also find out more about it.

Know How You Are Seen

It is a good idea to put out some feelers and get an idea of how you are viewed in the workplace. Are you a good worker, on time, conscientious, a team player?

Try to speak with your current supervisor as well as some colleagues. However you are seen, your interviewer is likely to have an idea already.

Prepare for Interview Questions

Questions for an internal applicant may be slightly different from those for an external applicant. Your future supervisor will want to inquire about your current role and how you feel you have performed and grown in it.

They may also ask about the role you are interviewing for, what you feel could be difficult about it or what improvements or changes you might want to make.

Know the Company

If headed to an external interview, you would research the company where you hope to work. As an internal interviewee, you should still do the same. You cannot be sure of the questions you will be asked, and it shows your interest in where you work.

Show Your Value

If you know you have an internal interview coming up, now is the time to work harder and show what you can do.

If you work with clients, try to get some good feedback that you can use in your interview. Keep a file of good reports you have had or emails of feedback from colleagues.

9 Tips for Internal Interviews

Here are some tips to help you make it through your internal interview.

1. Understand Your New Role

As an internal interviewee, you are in a good position to learn all you can about the role. Try to speak with the line manager of the role to get an idea of what the job entails.

If you can, speak to the person who is leaving the position as well as other possible colleagues. Not only do you want an idea of the job, but your potential new supervisor as well.

Ensure that you find out as much as possible about the role, both good and bad. You don’t want to face any surprises in your interview when some duties are mentioned that you did not know about.

Tips for Preparing for an Internal Interview
Tips for Preparing for an Internal Interview

2. Sell Yourself

While your interviewer will have a copy of your resume, it is always a good idea to bring your own copy and be prepared to emphasize your strengths and what you will bring to the position.

Gather as much feedback as you can from work colleagues, clients and others you may interact with. Look at the duties of the job and emphasize examples of where you could do well and even improve things.

3. Explain Why You Want the Role

It is important to be able to verbalize why you would like the job. Be enthusiastic and optimistic about taking on a new position and new duties. Know why it is a good step in your career and what you can learn from it.

For example, you may tell your interviewer that this position is the next step to your ultimate goal, or that you have been taking some courses to move in a new direction and you feel this job is something you can excel in.

4. Verbalize Your Achievements

While most of this information may be on your CV, you should be prepared to identify and elaborate on any professional achievements you have made in your career.

Don’t be shy about your accomplishments. Explain any commendations you have received, any awards you have won, or some sales targets or financial goals you have met.

5. Be Professional

In an internal interview, you may know your interviewer well, even socially. However, it is important to maintain a professional demeanor throughout your interview. You want to show that you are a professional.

6. Use the STAR Method

The STAR interview response method can help you answer internal interview questions more concisely with concrete examples of your skills and experience.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Using this method can be most helpful when answering questions that ask you to “Describe a time when…” or “Share an example of...”

The STAR concept will help you answer behavioral interview questions.

Each stage of the method is outlined below:

  • Situation – Describe a task that you have performed or a challenge you faced. Maybe it was a conflict at work, a disagreement with a co-worker or a project that you worked on. You could also use an example from outside-work events or volunteer work.
  • Task – Describe what your responsibilities have been in given situations. Perhaps they involved making a project work, completing a target or resolving a conflict.
  • Action – Focus on what you did as an individual to complete the task at hand.
  • Result – Explain how your actions resulted in the outcome. Emphasize what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience.

7. Don’t Neglect Your Current Job

Even though preparation is essential for your interview, do not neglect your current position.

The workweek is continuing, and you are likely to have duties that need to be completed. You do not want to give the impression that you are slacking on the job because you are hoping to leave.

8. Ask Questions

Show your interest in the job by asking questions. Beware of asking questions that you should already have the answers to through your pre-interview research.

9. Follow Up

Be sure to follow up after your interview. Interviewers can get bogged down with a lot of other work and it is a good idea to keep yourself on their radar.

It also helps to show you are still interested after the interview is over.

Frequently Asked Questions

Companies like it when internal candidates apply for open positions. It shows they are happy working for the company and that they are eager to be promoted.

Internal hires are already known in respect to their work ethic and can require less training, especially regarding company policies and work culture.

Once the interview is over, you should have an impression of how it went. Being an internal candidate, you may also be able to get a sense from others who know your interviewer.

Even if you know your interviewer and have been in social settings with them, keep the interview polite and professional.

Many different questions could be asked during your internal interview, for example:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you consider your biggest strength/weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • What do you think your manager might say about you as an employee?
  • What do you consider your biggest success in your current position?

Yes. As an internal applicant, your superior is likely to find out anyway and it would be better if they found out from you. You need them to give you a good recommendation and be supportive of your move.

Final Thoughts

Making the effort to advance in your career is always a positive move. Getting an interview is a good sign that others think so too. The most important thing to remember is that despite being an internal interview, it is still an interview, and should be approached with professionalism.

There are many steps and tips you can use to be well prepared and comfortable for the interview. Know the position you are applying for, know your strengths and weaknesses, sell yourself and keep everything professional, and you will do well.


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