How to Ace an Internal Interview
By Phyllis Ehrlich
Group Vice President, Spectrum Reach
One of the best places to grow your career may be at your current company. Whether you want to switch departments, move up, or make a lateral move — start by exploring potential internal opportunities. In fact, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020 report found that employees stay 41% longer at companies that regularly hire from within.
At Spectrum Reach, we encourage movement across our markets and departments and try to prioritize and promote internal candidates.
That being said, it’s incumbent upon employees to impress.
INTERVIEW LIKE AN EXTERNAL CANDIDATE
In recently staffing my new Client Success team, some internal candidates excelled while others bombed. What was the difference? Preparation and approaching the process like an external candidate.
For example, one candidate for a Senior Manager position highlighted her accomplishments in previous roles at the company in a short PowerPoint presentation. She talked about her management style and also included some fun facts about herself. Even though I already knew her, she interviewed for the job as if we were meeting for the first time.
In sharp contrast, another candidate for a Director position interviewed poorly. He did not take the time to do his homework on my background or previous roles at the company. He did not come to the interview with a thoughtful presentation. You can guess who got the job and who didn’t.
Internal candidates have an inside track on the company’s products, people and processes. It’s critical to demonstrate your “insider” knowledge and ability to get up to speed quickly in an expanded or new role. Develop a high-level 30-60-90 Day Plan to showcase your strategic vision for the position as well as tactics for flawless execution.
TELL A STORY
Make a list of potential questions you may be asked, and craft your best answers. You may even want to build your muscle memory by asking a friend, family member or colleague to role play with you. Bring experience and skills to life with strong stories.
Describe how you tackled a real business situation, using the STAR behavioral interview format (situation, task, action, and result). Illustrate how you provided value to a company priority or how you overcame a challenge. These candid stories can highlight your decision-making capabilities and quantifiable achievements.
According to one of my trusted HR business partners, the single most important thing hiring managers say after an interview is “I liked her or him.” We all want to like the people we work with. So even before discussing your skill sets, win over your next potential boss. If you’re naturally more of an introvert, think about how you can come out of your shell to make that important first impression. LinkedIn profiles can provide helpful nuggets of information, including former jobs, hobbies, or involvement in alumni, industry, or pro-social organizations. These nuggets can be great conversation starters or ice breakers.
At the end of an internal interview, ask: “What else do you need to convince you I am the right person for the role?” or “What does ‘great’ look like in this role?” Last but not least, within 24 hours, send a compelling thank-you email, which reiterates your passion for the position and commitment to making an increased contribution to the team and company.