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Don’t Take Internal Job Interviews For Granted

Categories: Interview Skills

interviewLast week I focused on the importance of being prepared to answer the "Tell me about yourself?" question often heard during job interviews -- primarily for new hires to a new business.

This time around, I want to further examine how to ace the internal job interview.

I’ve run into many people who think that internal interviews -- being interviewed for a different position within the same organization -- will be much easier than trying to start afresh with a new company.

These same people also seem to believe that because they already work for a business, they should be a shoe-in for any open position within that organization, whether it’s a lateral move to a different department or a promotion.

Surprise! They are confused and disappointed when an outsider, or an intern, or someone who’s been at the company for a much shorter period of time actually gets the coveted position.

Here’s my question to those of you seeking to be promoted or get another position within your same company: Do you interview for internal positions with the same preparation and care that you would for a position in an organization that’s never heard of you?

In addition to diligent preparation, there are some pitfalls with internal interviews that you need to know.

Let’s start with honesty. It is definitely in your best interests to let your current manager know that you are applying for another job within the firm. He or she is likely to find out about it anyway, and if you don’t mention it first, you will come across as sneaky.

If you have a good relationship with your manager, ask for suggestions on how he or she thinks you should approach the interview. Ask if your manager knows the hiring manager or HR person -- and even if he or she might consider putting in a good word for you.

What happens if you do not have a good relationship with your current manager?

What if he or she might try to thwart you, to keep you in your current position? This is a tricky situation, best handled with the highest degree of tact. You might ask the hiring manager to keep your application secret for a time, but you’ll need to give a good reason -- without making accusations about your current manager. Remember, tact and diplomacy. If you have a mentor, this would be a good time to get together and discuss strategy.

There are a few more considerations for internal job interviews that you should know about, so please stay tuned for part two of this series next week.

If you have any questions about interviewing, internally or externally, please leave me a comment and let’s discuss them!

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