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Internal Interview Questions

Many of your interview questions can be reused when evaluating external candidates for various roles, but how are you adjusting your interview format for internal candidates?

Recruiting and interviewing internal candidates can lower your cost-per-hire, as it decreases job board and sourcing expenses, and can result in faster hiring times. Leveraging internal hires also boosts team morale and increases employee retention, because internal candidates feel a connection to your company through the friends and colleagues who referred them.

Despite these benefits, it’s still necessary to evaluate if your internal candidate is the right fit for the open position.

Here are the best interview questions for internal candidates that you should be using.

Interview Questions for Internal Candidates

With internal candidates, it’s important to interview them with care. They are already dedicated to your company, and not receiving the promotion or movement to a different department of interest could result in employee churn.

Tips for Interviewing Internal Candidates

  1. Do your research before interviewing them. First, make sure the applicant’s manager knows about the applicant’s intentions to interview internally. Once you know that the manager is aware of the situation, see what feedback they have on the candidate.
  2. Prepare in advance. You’ll want to have a list of pre-set interview questions. Be prepared with your questions so that your internal candidate is able to address feedback from their peers/managers, and give you insight into their traits.
  3. Evaluate carefully. Don’t assume that because they’re an internal candidate they should be the leader in the race for this role. You’ll want to compare their skills to external candidates as well.
  4. Follow up. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll want to follow up with your internal candidate. Candidate follow up is one of the key frustrations of external candidates, and is not something you want to repeat with someone internal.

For the internal candidate interview, your primary focus should be on evaluating motivations, management skills, past history with the team/ department, and performance track record.

Remember to handle with care. Otherwise, you might have to fill two roles instead of one.

Internal Candidate Interview Questions for Motivation

The key to uncovering motivations of your internal candidates is to treat this similar to a retention interview. You’ll want to learn about why they want the new role? Are they unfulfilled currently? Do they want more responsibility? Is this to further their career path? Use these questions to find out what your internal candidates truly want from a new role in your company.

  1. Why are you interested in this new role within our company?
  2. What’s your favorite part of coming to work every day?
  3. What could change about our company / department to make it a better experience?
  4. At this stage of your career, where do you see yourself next year? 3 years from now? 5 years?
  5. What do you enjoy / not enjoy about your current role?
  6. If you could change one thing about your current role what would it be?

[Read More: Motivation Interview Questions]

Internal Candidate Interview Questions for Management Skills

Oftentimes, internal candidates will be interested in a new role because it offers the opportunity to become a manager or increase their responsibilities. Below are some questions that you can use to assess their management skills.

  1. In your current role, I heard that you managed project X. Tell me about this project. Who was involved? How did you assign responsibilities / allocate resources? What went well with the project? What’s one thing you would do differently if you could do it all over again?
  2. In your current role, have you been in any situations where you would be described as a leader? How would your peers describe your leadership skills?
  3. If promoted to this new role, what would your ideal team structure be? How would you manage communication and collaboration on projects?
  4. How would your peers describe your management style?
  5. What are the traits you think are most important to be a good manager/leader?
  6. What areas do you think you need to work on most to be an effective leader at our company?

Internal Candidate Interview Questions to Assess Past History With the Team / Communication

An important factor in deciding to promote / hire an internal candidate, is learning how they communicated and collaborated with the rest of their team and other members of the company.

  1. Which members of your department did you work with directly? What was the scope of the work? What was key to working with your team successfully?
  2. Have you ever worked across departments at our company? With which teams? How would you describe your communication and collaboration?
  3. Have you ever had any communication issues with anyone on the team? What would you do differently to ensure successful collaboration in the future?
  4. Were you ever given any unclear directions for tasks/projects? What steps did you take to ensure you were doing the correct work to the specifications of the project? Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
  5. How would your peers describe your communication style?
  6. Tell me about a project that did not go smoothly. What were the issues? How did you address these with the team/peer/manager? What was the outcome? What would you do differently if given the chance?

Internal Candidate Interview Questions to Assess Past Performance

The great thing about interviewing internal candidates, is you have an entire track for past performance and the references available to back it up. You can quickly learn about your internal candidate, how they performed, and if they are “right” for the role.

  1. I’ve heard you worked on project X with [name]. Can you tell me about this project? What do you think were the main reasons for its success?
  2. It was mentioned that you missed a couple of project deadlines during X. What were the reasons for this?
  3. What was the most challenging project that you’ve worked on with our company? What specifically was challenging? How do you think the project could have been run to make it less difficult?
  4. Please describe your favorite project that you’ve been a part of t our company. What made this project great? Was it successful?If you could go back in time, is there anything you would change about your contribution?
  5. Do you think your peers would have anything negative to say about your work? Which projects in particular do you think you could have done better in hindsight?
  6. What do you think are the areas you have grown in the most during your tenure at our company? Which areas do you think you still have an opportunity to improve?

[Read More: Performance Review Questions]

Final thoughts: Interview questions for internal candidates

Interviewing internal candidates for your open jobs is a delicate process. If you don’t handle with care, you could end up needing to hire for two roles instead of one. Make sure to create an even better candidate experience for your internal candidates, and also leverage these top interview tips for some basic information. Don’t forget to track all of your candidates through your applicant tracking system, regardless of whether they’re internal or external.