Congratulations — you got called in for an internal interview for a new job with your company. While the end goal of both internal and external interviews is the same (to find the right candidate to fill a role), the ways in which internal and external interviews pan out can be quite different.
So how do you make a lasting impression and ace an internal interview?
What Is an Internal Interview?
An internal interview is an interview that involves a hiring manager and an employee who already works for the company. This employee is being interviewed for a new, different role within the company, however. If all candidates are internal, the entire interview may feel a little less formal; it may be more like a series of meetings with the hiring manager, as you may not even have to actually apply for the job through a formal application.
While having insider intel on the company, understanding its values and mission, having a grasp for how things operate and already having relationships with people in the office are all advantages to internal interviewees, you still need to prepare. In fact, the hiring manager might even expect more of you since you should have a better understanding of the company and the ways in which it works. And you'll need to prove to your hiring manager why they should fill your existing role (which will require more work) to put you in this new role — and how your skills and expertise will be transferable.
What Are Some Common Interview Questions for an Internal Interview?
The first step to preparing yourself for an internal interview is by practicing your answers to some common interview questions for an internal interview. Here are some of the most common questions that you may be asked.
- Tell me about yourself and your experiences.
- Why are you the best fit for this role?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
- Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
- What do you like best about your current position at the company?
- What don't you love about the role you're in now?
- What other positions have you held with the company, if any?
- What was your biggest success while working in X department?
- How have you seen this company change over the course of your time working here?
- What suggestions do you have for helping the company achieve its goals?
- What do you suggest that the company’s top priorities should be over the next few years?
- What makes this company stand out from its competitors, and why?
- Why do you enjoy working for this company?
- Why are you looking to move to a new role in this particular company, as opposed to moving to that position in another company elsewhere?
- Why do you want to leave your current position?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why is it important to you to get promoted?
- Does your manager yet know that you have applied for this opening within the company?
- Do you think your manager would recommend you for this position — why?
- If your current colleagues were asked why we should hire you for this role, what would they say?
- Why should we hire you for this position?
- What do you have that the other candidates, both internally and externally, don’t?
- How would you spend your first month in this new position?
- Do you have any prior experience working in a role like this one?
- Is there any additional training you will need to be successful in this position?
- What do you already know about the position for which you are being considered?
- What do you already know about the department for which you are being considered?
- Are you looking for any particular kinds of challenges in this new role — if so, what and why?
- How would you handle the transition to your new job if we choose to hire you for this position?
- How will you handle the news if you don't get the job?
4 Tips for Acing an Internal Interview
Now that you have some common internal interview questions in mind, you'll want to study up and prepare yourself. Follow the following four tips to make a lasting impression during your internal interview.
1. Use What You Know to Your Advantage
You already know so much more about the company, its goals and how it operates — even more so than most applicants who've applied for this job, assuming that there are more external candidates than internal ones. Leverage this information to curate answers that you know will show your hiring manager that you're on the same page.
That said, still do your homework. External candidates will likely research the company to prepare talking points during the interview, and you should do the same by reviewing the website again and checking out any recent newsletters.
2. Mention Your Company-Specific Experience
Differentiate yourself from other external candidates by making your company experience known. And also differentiate yourself from other internal candidates by explaining the ways in which you've gotten to know or have worked/collaborated with other departments, like the one for which you're applying.
3. Keep It Professional
If you've worked at the company for quite some time, the chances are that you're friends or friendly with your hiring manager. Make sure that you keep your tone professional, regardless of your relationship. This also means that, just like a regular interview for a new company, you should send a follow-up thank-you email. It may feel awkward to email a friend so formally, but this is an important move to make sure that you're not falling behind the other candidates who are certainly (or, at least, should certainly be) sending thank-you emails.
Likewise, you'll also want to keep it professional if you don't get the job. If, for example, you get passed up for the opportunity and someone younger or newer in the company gets the position instead, it may sting. But you need to do your best not to complain or gossip about the situation. Rather, if you truly think the decision was unfair, you'll need to reevaluate your reasons for staying with the company. Don't make any irrational, impulsive decisions, but reflect on the situation and decide for yourself what it means to you.
4. Ask Follow-up Questions
All interviews are two-way conversations, so it's important to remember that you need to ask questions, as well — and come prepared with some. You'll want to make sure that this internal move is the right move to make (especially if it's a lateral move!), so you'll want to ask your hiring manager about the new expectations, your future in that role and any other questions you might have, perhaps related to salary and benefits. Three of the best follow-up questions include "Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?" and "What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?" as well as "What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for the department right now of which I may not already be aware?"
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.