Applying for a new position at a company where you already work poses unique advantages and disadvantages. The biggest mistake people make is to shortchange the process. To be successful, it’s important to position yourself just as competitively as any candidate from outside the company. You’ve probably heard that up to 80% of job openings go unadvertised. One of the best things about focusing on where you work is that you can access loads of inside information and discover opportunities before they’re posted.
Of course, you still have to prove that you’re the right choice. Ace your internal interview by following these steps for every stage in the process.
Steps to Take Before Your Interview
- Review your company’s hiring history. See how many managers started out in the ‘mailroom’. It shows a genuine commitment to promoting from within.
- Be selective. You have more at stake when you’re dealing with your employer rather than an anonymous job board. Focus on the best opportunities for you.
- Inform your current supervisor. It’s usually good to let your boss know your plans. Asking for their advice may encourage them to be supportive.
- Consult with coworkers. You’re in an ideal position to learn all you can from the hiring manager, people in other departments, and other contacts. Discover what’s really behind the job description.
- Update your resume. Craft your resume and cover letter to be as impressive as possible. Highlight your top accomplishments. Proofread everything thoroughly or ask a friend to take a second look.
Steps to Take During Your Interview
- Be professional. Treat the session as an interview even if you’re talking with an old friend. Use the time to make your best case. You can be friendly and casual while still discussing substantive matters.
- Dress up. One of the most obvious ways to look professional is to dress the part. A suit is appropriate for most office jobs. Pay extra attention to your hair, skin and accessories.
- Ask lots of questions. However much you know about the company, there’s more information to find out. Clarify the specific responsibilities and performance expectations. Identify the most urgent priorities that the hiring manager has on their mind.
- Explain your qualifications. Even if you think the interviewer already knows you, summarize your capabilities. Be prepared to give details.
- Differentiate yourself from the competition. If you know who else is applying, talk about what makes you different. Spell out the contribution you would make.
- Manage your reputation. You may need to describe how you could excel in a role that’s different from the way people are used to seeing you. Be candid about past errors and explain how you’ve learned from them.
Steps to Take After Your Interview
- Respond graciously. If someone else gets the job, your company may be concerned with how you’ll handle the disappointment. Demonstrate a positive attitude regardless of the outcome.
- Thank your interviewer. Start by expressing your gratitude for the time and attention you received from the hiring manager. Let everyone who helped you know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness and efforts.
- Plan for your transition. Think ahead about what you’ll do if you get selected. Even though you’re staying in the same building, there will be plenty of unfamiliar demands. Assist the person taking over your old responsibilities and get off on a good foot in your new role.
Pursuing internal openings provides a smart way to advance your career. You may find a new job you love where you can still have lunch with your old buddies and avoid a longer commute.