Internal Opportunity Interviews

When you’re going for a possible promotion or other desirable job opportunity within your company, you might be tempted to think that the interview process will require less effort than for an external opportunity. Not so fast!

The Employer Knows You–Are You Sure?

You could well have an edge going in because you’re a known quantity versus a stranger trying to come in from outside, but it’s not a given. Several factors could play into this situation, including:

  • You’re known by a number of people but not necessarily the ones where you would be working next.
  • Although some of your work is known, maybe not all of it is. Something you really need them to be aware of might not be general knowledge.
  • Even if you’re well regarded on the whole, individuals within the company could have their own, possibly biased opinions about you. How influential are they likely to be?

No Slam-Dunk Internal Interviews

Treating the upcoming internal opportunity interview as a snap could be one of your biggest mistakes. Presumed familiarity with the circumstances doesn’t excuse you from putting your best efforts into preparation. That’s right: homework, research, whatever you want to call it.

Failure to take the whole process as seriously as you would an external interview could put you out of the running, even if you started out as a front-runner. You might forfeit your chance to make a strong impression and show the interviewer(s) how much value you can bring to the table.

One thing that could trip you up is neglecting to ascertain the realities of the position you’re aiming for. You probably know that online job postings can’t always be relied on to give a true picture of the position. The same is true of internal opportunities.

Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Opportunity Interviews

Harvard Business Review recently published an article titled “How to Ace an Internal Interview” by Amy Gallo that offers some very practical advice on how to approach such situations. I encourage you to read the whole article, but here are a couple of the “do’s and don’ts” Gallo shares:

  • DO: “Tell your current boss that you’re applying for another position.”
  • DON’T: “Get defensive about mistakes you’ve made in the past — be honest and explain what you’ve learned.”

If you have an internal interview and don’t end up getting the job, take a good look at how you handled the situation before, during and after the interview, just as you would (or should!) for an external interview. Anything you can learn from that could help you capture the next job opportunity.

Remember: We live in a competitive world. You need to do whatever you reasonably can to maximize your positive impact.

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