Making sure your interview process is sensitively managed is key to getting the best candidate from your internal talent pool.

Organisations are on a recruitment drive as fewer candidates apply for job roles and the skills gap continues to widen. This is where internal promotion presents a smart way to mine the talent that already exists within the business and of course, cut the cost of recruiting from outside.

Internal mobility increases engagement

Businesses can spend an inordinate amount of money on the hiring process from the initial advertising and posting on job boards, time spent filtering and interviewing potential applicants and finally onboarding the new employee. That’s not even to mention the man-hours lost while waiting for the position to be filled.

The internal mobility offering you have in place as an organisation shows employees that you value their skills and experience and leveraging hires from inside the business can be a huge morale booster, increasing retention. There is already a culture fit for the individual, and as recruiters know to their cost, finding the right workplace culture is everything for today’s job seekers. In fact, 84% of company recruiters say that culture fit has become a key factor when recruiting.

That said, while the majority of companies turn their attention inwards and look to their current staff to source the best person for the job, it is folly to think that just because you know the individual in question, the interview process is a simple box-ticking exercise. The opposite is actually true. The internal interview process can be incredibly insightful, providing additional information on the skill set of the candidate and even revealing the state of your organisation from a different perspective. Not getting it right or ignoring potential internal candidates can result in employee churn and a serious lack of engagement.

How should you tackle the internal interview process?

There needs to be a good interview structure in place when interviewing internal candidates for your open jobs – you don’t want to risk alienating your current employees and ending up with two roles to fill.  The trick is to make the process as easy and pleasant as possible, to show the value you place on them as an existing member of the organisation.

  1. Make adjustments

Often the recruitment team will have a set of questions prepared for external candidates – tried and trusted prompts to draw out the information they need to assess the suitability of the potential employee, however, when it comes to internal applicants, there need to be some tweaks to the interview format.

  1. Do your due diligence

Before interviewing your internal candidate, there are a few checks to make. Does their line manager know they are going for a new position? When you have confirmed this, you can garner feedback on the employee and assess their suitability for the role from the managers’ perspective. This information is crucial for building a well-rounded view of the applicant.

During the process itself, you can use this information from colleagues, line manager and supervisor and ask the candidate to respond to any negative comments or areas of potential weakness. Rather than using hypothetical examples of scenarios, you can also use real-life experiences to ask how your candidate how they dealt with challenges or obstacles.

  1. Focus on motivation

The primary point of discussion for any internal interview applicant should be the reasons for changing roles or seeking promotion. Are they wanting a higher salary, a change of department, or career progression? Are they unhappy or unfulfilled or maybe they are keen to take on a more senior role with more responsibility? A deep dive into their skill set and experience within their department as well as a look at past performance reviews will give you a more rounded view of the employee.

  1. A focus on career progression

Of course, a lot of internal candidates are there because they want to take on a more senior role and therefore the interview questions should follow a pattern that helps you see how they would manage in certain situations. Asking them things like ‘Where do you see yourself in three, five- or 10 years’ time? How could you improve your department? What changes would you put in place? What is it about your current role that you do/don’t enjoy?’ are useful to gauge this. It allows them to explain their motivations and gives you insight into their potential suitability for a managerial or leadership role.

  1. Assessing past history and experience

Another area that is pertinent for internal candidates is their past history, relationships with colleagues and professional performance to date. While you will have the hard evidence in front of you such as comments from line managers, peer statements and performance review data, you can ask the candidate questions that can really help you assess their skill set, the potential for innovation and commitment. Suitable questions include: ‘Tell me about this recent project and what made it a success? What do you think your colleagues would say about you? Tell me about a difficult project and how would you approach it differently now if you had another chance. How do you think you have grown in terms of skills since you began your current role?’

Don’t think it’s a done thing

During the process you might assume you have the perfect candidate; after all, you know them, they know the organisation, and can ‘hit the ground running’, and there is no onboarding administration to deal with. They still, however, need to be measured against the other candidates from outside the organisation to see their suitability and whether they are the optimum person for the job.

Don’t forget to follow-up

Whether you are giving them the role or not, an internal candidate still needs a follow-up. This helps show them that they are valued, even if they are not successful in gaining the position.
Recruiting from inside the business really does present an opportunity to boost engagement, grow your talent pipeline and provide solid career progression routes for employees, as well as save money on hiring unknown applicants from outside the company. Format your questions accordingly and you will soon fill the role with the most suitable person for the job.

If you want to learn more about how Hireserve ATS can transform your hiring process, book a demo of our feature-rich software today.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.