Successfully being chosen for a different position in your current company requires preparation and finesse. Here are four ways to ace your in-house interview:
1. Know all of the key players.
Do everything in your power to learn all you can about the individuals who will be interviewing you. You don’t want to be a phony during interviews, but you do want to show members of the hiring team that you respect them and want to help them meet their goals.
In a small company, screening and hiring new employees is typically delegated to one or two managers, although sometimes the owner will want to interview you independently. Some small firms will even let your peers have a say. You likely already know the hiring process and all of the hiring team fairly well.
Midsize and larger businesses usually have a tiered protocol for the interview process. Learn how this works and which department representatives normally conduct the interviews. Occasionally, a firm may let a recruiter handle their in-house hires. Find out about their typical interview techniques by consulting with new employees who have had recent interviews with the headhunter.
Once you’ve figured out who the players are, dig deep on the web and social media to discover their skills, passions, and true power in the company. Don’t be a stalker, but be intensely curious about what makes them tick. Ask trusted colleagues about the interviewers’ conversational and interview styles, too.
2. Understand why the position is up for grabs.
The specific circumstances that opened up the position will color how you will be evaluated by hiring managers.
The position may be available because someone resigned or retired. In this case, don’t make the mistake of trying to mimic the person who left the company. Before your first interview, find out if that person was well-liked and what value he or she brought to the position.
If you know that your company wants a new hire with the same skill set and personality, show that you can fill the role by highlighting your relevant abilities. Acknowledge the former employee if the interviewer does, but keep your focus on what the interviewer is seeking right now.
If the person you wish to replace was fired or was not well-liked, investigate what went wrong. Personality clashes, incompetence, and divergent workplace goals are some causes for termination. Don’t rely on one version of events or idle gossip — people often have agendas. Instead, discreetly seek out the facts from multiple sources.
In the interview, don’t bring up squabbles in your department or remind the interviewer about the previous employee’s bad behavior. Some interviewers will have friends in your department — and the ex-employee may have friends in the new department. Instead, be ready to explain how you’ve handled conflicts in your present position. Use what you know about the terminated employee to subtly make it clear that you’re a team player who won’t bring about the same problems.
If the position is brand new — and you’re first in line to fill it — you need to know every detail about your company’s expectations and goals for the new position. Go above and beyond, brainstorming with friends to create more goals and functions for the new position.
The interviewer may never give you the opportunity to share the fruits of your imagination. On the other hand, he or she may well ask you, “What ideas do you have for this new job title?” When you have specific ideas to share, you prove that you’ve thought about possibilities and that you take the job offer seriously.
3. Be a know-it-all, but don’t let them know it.
Candidates who are clueless about a company don’t fare well when applying for jobs. If you’re already employed by they company and don’t know more than a cursory amount about its history and mission, imagine how much more that will offend your higher-ups.
Study your company’s past, present, and future like you’re prepping for an exam. Know all about key founders, innovators, and performers who’ve shaped your business and your industry.
Also familiarize yourself with the culture of the new department by researching and answering these questions:
- Is it more laid back or more conservative than your present work environment?
- What goals does the department have?
- Who are the natural leaders in the department? Why?
- What sorts of problems has the department solved (and not solved)?
- How can you solve the department’s or team’s most pressing issues and help meet long-term goals?
Don’t be a show-off during the interview. Listen as carefully and be ready to show the interviewers that you understand the company’s goals by sprinkling your answers with key facts.
Example: “Yes, I know how to install SSDs. I know Corporation, Inc. would have loved having that kind of storage back during the floods of ’05. But our data center will greatly benefit from transitioning to them today, and I know how to help you accomplish that goal.”
4. Act like you’re being tracked.
Some in-house job candidates get cocky when they reach the second or third interview stage. Be careful not to make this mistake.
Continue to perform your job responsibilities to the best of your abilities. Be humble and helpful and look for ways to support your current team. Be mindful at every moment of how you may be perceived. Hiring managers will not only evaluate your interview but also your day-to-day performance.
Are you polite and effective when dealing with clients? Do you show respect for your manager? Do you waste time on office chatter and other diversions? You can bet you’re being scrutinized, and your behavior at work during the hiring phase may be a factor in your ability to win the position.
Finally, be completely sure that you’ve cleaned up your online presence. Just as you’ve dug deep into your company and the hiring team, they will be digging deep to find out about you. Sharpen up your LinkedIn and other industry profiles to make sure that your online credentials and image present you as someone your company would be proud to promote.
In-house interviews can be just as daunting as external hiring procedures. Don’t get caught unprepared. Use the tips above to stand out from the competition and prove to your employers that you are the best person for the job.