Succeeding at internal interviews - the do’s and don’ts!
A new opportunity has arisen within your company. You’ve worked in the business for years and the job spec reads like it was written specifically with you in mind, you're so confident you’re practically ordering new business cards. What more is there to do than have a chat with your boss, discuss the finer details of that massive salary increase you are about to receive and the job is yours...right??
Wrong! Internal interviews are a minefield all on their own. We are offered endless advice on how to prepare for an external interview, but the challenge of the internal interview is often bypassed. To make sure you succeed in getting that promotion or new opportunity, read the following advice:
Don’t assume the role is yours!
The biggest pit fall is allowing yourself to think that you are the only person for the job. Remember that you might not know who your competition is, internally or externally. Avoid office gossip, allowing colleagues to boost your ego with their predictions that your promotion is a done deal.
Do speak to your manager and advise them that you are applying for the position.
Out of courtesy if nothing else, your managers needs to know your future plans which would allow them to put a succession plan in place. Furthermore, they might put in a good word for you with the hiring manager. Also should you not be successful in the role, it is still worthwhile for your manager to see your ambition and desire to remain within the business.
Do research the position.
Your advantage over an external applicant is that you will have a better understanding of the role, the challenges that are in place, what the culture of the team/company is etc. Develop a solid understanding of the team structure, plans for growth and gaps in talent within the team that your skills could fit.
Don’t assume your employers know your background before joining the company.
Present them with an updated CV highlighting your previous career successes. Also detail your current role for them, be sure to sell yourself but avoid over-embellishment, that could lead to potentially embarrassing conversations in your interview!
Do know your reputation, strengths and weaknesses within the organisation.
Inevitably your weaknesses will be brought up in an interview. Don’t get defensive, rather admit your shortcomings and highlight how you have learnt from past mistakes and have grown from the experience.
Do dress the part.
Even if your usual office attire is casual, it's important to show that you are taking the interview seriously, dust off that suit and dress as you would if you were attending an external interview.
Don’t forget to sell yourself.
It's a lot more difficult to sell yourself in front of people that you know very well. You could have a very relaxed, informal relationship with the interviewer and now you are faced with the challenge of 'selling' your experience and personality to them. Remember an interview is not the time to be modest, know your strengths and convince them that you are the only person for the job. If you don’t, you can be sure an external competitor will!
Don’t be dramatic!
You can assume you will be asked what you will do if you are not successful in getting the position. Avoid threats of resignation at all costs! Don’t back yourself into a corner, advise them that you will consider why you were not successful and what you will do to upskill to ensure you will be right for the position when the next opportunity arises, even if it's your intention to look elsewhere if you don’t succeed in the interview.
Do follow up after the interview
Extend your thanks for their time and re-express your interest in the position. Make a lasting impression!