by Carol-Ann Jordan and Jacqueline Belgrave
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
I have applied for an internal position that I have been filling temporarily. When interviewing an employee for a position what are you looking for? How should I approach the interview for this internal position?
When interviewing an employee, the interviewers are looking for the same attributes they look for in any other candidate. They are seeking someone
who can competently handle the dutiesand responsibilities of the position and who demonstrates the “soft skills” needed for success in the role.
When we refer to “soft skills” we mean good interpersonal skills, effective communication skills, emotional intelligence and so on.
Previously, local custom and practice established that internal candidates should be interviewed first, with external interviews only taking place if a suitable candidate could not be found.
In recent times, however, that privilege offered to internal candidates has been replaced by the practice of both internal and external candidates being assessed at the same time.
An employer may favour this approach in order to overcome perceived challenges. They may want to ensure that individuals are added to the talent pool who may be more open to doing new things (or doing things differently) and who may bring new perspectives or new skills.
The employer may believe that, by adding new members to the team, (s)he may be better able to change the existing organisational culture.
The change in workplace promotion policies and practices now mean that internal candidates must compete with external others for scarce promotional opportunities.
However, the employer should specially consider their employees’ knowledge, their understanding of the practices and culture of their workplace and for their loyalty to the organisation.
Acknowledging and appreciating these invaluable intangibles by considering employees first for any vacancies which arise is also a form of employee recognition.
The two questions asked today force us to consider what must be taken into account in an employer’s effort to balance the pursuit of their business objectives on the one hand, and the creation of a motivating environment for employees on the other.
The employer must be mindful that the employee who seeks a promotion may not be doing so only to earn more money. In some instances, the employee’s aim may be to satisfy esteem or self-fulfillment needs.
Satisfaction of these needs is also important and an employer must be mindful of these as (s)he seeks to create that environment in which employees can be motivated and productive.
An employer cannot guarantee that any external candidate selected will deliver in the role as is required, will excel as is expected or will be a good cultural fit.
The decision to select an external candidate therefore carries just as much risk as the decision to select an internal candidate.
Furthermore, the employer engenders much more goodwill in the relationship with employees when (s)he invests in an internal candidate than when (s)he invests in an external candidate (who, ultimately, may not meet expectations).
Having made this case however, we recognise that, in a selection process, the internal candidate’s obvious advantage can also be a disadvantage.
The internal candidate knows the decision makers and understands the internal dynamics of the workplace.
Nevertheless, internal interviews may be more difficult for the employee because (s)he must overcome the managers’ or supervisors’ perceptions of them and latent doubts which, regrettably, can overshadow their skills and technical ability.
Even though each side forms opinions of the other based on their interactions and observations, the internal interviewers (manager/supervisors) make the final decision.
As a result, if the daily interactions between the internal applicant and the hiring manager(s) have been positive then the employee stands a better chance of being “heard” and being objectively considered for the position.
If the interactions have been negative, then the employee has a more difficult time being “heard” and being objectively considered.
This dynamic does not feature in the case of external candidates, since the panel accepts and relies on the information shared on their curricula vitae and during their interview responses.
The internal candidate then, working against that background, can take the opportunity to discuss with the interviewers any issues which, in his/her opinion could affect a more positive outcome.
Having placed the position of the internal candidate in context, how should you approach the interview for an internal position?
You should approach the interview with the same level of preparation as you would for any other interview, especially if you are being considered with external candidates.
Your aim must still be to impress your interviewers, showing them why you are the best candidate for the position.
Dress appropriately, act professionally and be prepared to:
• answer the questions asked as thoroughly as you would in any interview.
• speak about your career path, your current job, the job for which you are being considered, the company, and how you envision your transition to new responsibilities if you were selected
• use your knowledge of the company and its employees to your advantage.
• mention and emphasise your experience, knowledge, and skills
• give examples of your achievements and accomplishments since joining the organisation (remind the decision makers of the contribution you have made)
• demonstrate how your dedication to (and achievements on behalf of) the organisation set you apart from external candidates
• ask your own questions ready as well.
Give it your best shot!
About Lifeline Labour Solutions: Lifeline Labour Solutions is a boutique partnership providing people management solutions to workplace challenges Partners Carol-Ann Jordan and Jacqueline Belgrave are established practitioners with a wealth of knowledge and experience in Employment Relations, Labour Relations and Human Resource Management between them. Email: [email protected] lifelinelabour. com; Tel: 1(246)247-5213