BLUF: What differences in good practices make when pursuing and [u]internal[/u] job posting?

[b]Background:[/b] I interviewed for a position within my company last Friday. This position is in a different IT department in our company. I got the interview through our internal job-board posting and selection process. While listening to (cramming?) most of the interviewing podcasts, I wondered what differences, if any, in the M-T practices should be applied to applying for internal positions.

[b]Some specifics:[/b]
[i]Dress code[/i] - This is probably a no-brainer. However, I do feel anxious wearing a suit around the office with people I know. I still like the idea of putting on one’s best.

[i]The Close[/i] - Chalk this up to my own naïveté. When I’ve changed position internally in the past, it’s a reassignment. “Craig, you’re now doing X instead of (or in addition to!) Y.” This is not an offer, but a directive. With internal postings, is there an offer and acceptance? (In my interview and follow-up, I [u]did[/u] close; and it [u]felt[/u] awkward. That was mainly because I’ve never done it before.)

What other areas are different? Clearly the processes are very similar (a significant accomplishment question is still just that). Maybe it’s all the same. My own hiring experience has been exclusively with bringing in external candidates. I’m curious about others’ experiences and insight.


P.S. Thanks to Mark & Mike for putting out the Premium content and Interview series! Even with a short period of time before my interview to go through the ‘casts, it certainly improved my preparation and confidence in the interview!

tonys's picture

Hi Craig,

Sorry, if I hijack your thread. But I think it is quite relevant to ask here.

I just wonder if internal candidate has some disadvantages. The hiring department may hestitate to hire the internal staff because of political concern. Think as the whole company, hiring you mean adding one turnover to you previous department. Do you agree?

WillDuke's picture
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I sure hope a company wouldn't think that way. They should see that stifling a person's professional development is not something a good employee will put up with. That employee will simply grow with another company. Now that's a tremendous waste of resources. "Yeah, we trained him perfectly for the job, then wouldn't promote him beyond that job so he left."

Internal promotion is an OPPORTUNITY for the business to keep good employees.

madamos's picture
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It is tempting to treat an internal interview differently from an external one. Don't make that mistake. You have to be just as prepared, if not more for the internal interview.

Dress is a great question. When I have gone on an external interview, I have taken the day off from work so I don't have to worry about questions about my dress in the office. But external interviews ususally are all scheduled in a way where you may see multiple people in the same trip. For internal interviews, my experiance has been the interview schedule is more casual, and may be spread out over a week. That makes the dress question even more complicated in my mind.

You can and should close for the internal interview. Don't treat it as a reassignment, this is a change in jobs. You definately want the internal people to know that you want this job.

I recently interviewed for an internal position in another department but did not get the job. But some of the feedback I got on the selection process for the job was how well prepared I was for the interview. The other candidate, who ultimately got the job, did not prepare as well and treated the interview differently. It almost cost him the position. On the positive side for me, I made such a great impression during my interviews that several executives in the department have said (both directly to me and to people in my network) that they felt the had to find a job for me in the department and they really wanted me to work for them in some capacity.

So treat the interview the same and an external one.


bflynn's picture

[quote="ccleveland"][i]Dress code[/i] - This is probably a no-brainer. However, I do feel anxious wearing a suit around the office with people I know. I still like the idea of putting on one’s best.[/quote]

Wear the suit. As Mark has said before, leave no doubt as to your interest in the position. My position is that you don't get a pass on looking good just because you're internal. Without the suit, you'll stand out and not in a good way.

You'll get "joking" questions from co-workers saying "What's this, you have an interview?" Answer it directly - "Yes, I'm talking to Bob over in Finance about the possibility of shifting over there." If it helps, carry the coat and tie and stop in a bathroom on the way to the interview to put them on.


jhack's picture

Dress code - Brian nailed it. Be honest, and be your best.

The Close - Do it.


ccleveland's picture

No problem! You're not hijacking; you understand the point of the thread!

As far as internal having disadvantages, I see your point. I think the advantages may outweigh any disadvantages. I can think of two big advantages. One is a decreased risk of a false-positive (hiring someone they shouldn't have) because they have more visibility into my past behavior. Will said the other advantage: continuous staff development.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Thinking on the "Close" question more, I think my concern isn't wether to close or not, but the word "offer" used in the close.


juliahhavener's picture
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A lot of things here but at the bottom line...the interview series is right on whether internal or external.

I interviewed within my company for three similar positions in three different areas. Each one rated a suit, I failed to close on only one. One was at my current location, the other two were not. I believe the hardest one for me as the location I worked at - I knew all but one of the interviewers very well (one was the manager who originally hired me!). I had to really be on top of the game. They knew me, the job I did, and they were looking to see what I'd done with the feedback I'd had available to me. I received two offers, and after I'd accepted, my original hiring manager (different department from mine) stopped to congratulate me and tell me if I hadn't taken it and hadn't been selected for the job I'd interviewed in, SHE would have taken me for her department!

There is *nothing* in the interview series that I can say doesn't apply to an internal interview.

As to the internal/external hiring question, in some ways it can be a matter of ethics. A friend of mine was recently told not to apply for a promotion because she's currently leading a special team very well. For my employees, I work very hard to prepare them to move on. I have one who will be moving to another system soon, and a second that is preparing to interview for a promotion within the building. Some of the O3 time has been devoted to reviewing their resumes (after a reference to MT for the podcast), working on mock interviews, preparing for a phone interview, etc. My last boss told me an excellent testament to my ability is having my people move up and onward within the company. She did it for me, and I pass that on.

As a hiring manager, I love a good internal candidate. Not only do I have the interview material, but I know their general work ethic. I know I'm not investing training (which for my department comes from me for now) time and money in someone who won't come to work on time, who doesn't care about the job they do, and who won't be working to move the business forward. I also gain an employee with a different skillset or background who can further the overall effectiveness of the team as a whole. It's a win/win in my book.

maura's picture
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I think Julia's experience touched on a couple of important differences.

If you are applying for an internal position, the hiring managers will know (or can find out) more about you, your work ethic, your interpersonal style, and your reputation than an external interviewer could. In some companies, the internal hiring manager may even have access to your performance reviews. Thus, the nature of the interview might be more in-depth and focused around these areas than an external one could be.

If you are good at what you do and respected in the company, this extra information will work to your advantage. But, if there are any blemishes on your internal record, you'd better be prepared to speak to them, because chances are the person conducting the interview has access to those details.

On the flip side, for an external position, the interviewer doesn't have access to your coworkers or current manager - you'd have to work harder to show your strengths, and they have to go on what you and your references tell them.

WillDuke's picture
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Julia's comment sparked a thought that I wanted to share. If a manager is doing a good job, an MT job, then they have a good team. A good team is not unlike a family. I know in a separate thread there's a discussion about not referring to directs as kids. I don't mind, however, thinking of my team as family.

If a member of your family has an opportunity to grow and develop, wouldn't you support them? Wouldn't you do everything you can to help that person.

That's what I think an internal promotion is. Even if they leave your company and promote into another. If it's your family member moving on, isn't that good? And isn't that the best kind of networking?

tonys's picture


Very well said!!!

I hope there are more good managers in the business world. I have never seen one like you or other MTers. I mean it! NEVER! Even including what I heard from my friends. Good managers are virtually non-existence.

If I meet one, I will be really happy to be part of his/her team. Please let me know when you need to hire. I am serious.


James Gutherson's picture

I just had an image of Diogenes running through the streets with a lighted torch looking for 'A MT Manager'. :)

juliahhavener's picture
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One if my land, two if by Manager Tools?

sholden's picture
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Another plug for the interview series, is from the perspective of the interviewer or the hiring manager. Flip the information 180-degrees and it really can change your effectiveness.

I've gone through three hiring positions since listening to the Interview casts and they really helped in clarifying my requirements for a high bar for the candidates being interviewed.

In more than one situation I ended up interviewing twice as many internal applicants then I usually would. Talk about effective. The people I've added have delivered sooner than projected on the deliverables they were hired for, and made our project even more successful than before we started. - Steve

jhack's picture

Steve, you are right on. Absolutely, as a hiring manager, I am learning a lot about the process.


WillDuke's picture
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I'm with you Steve. I actually thought the series was going to be from the interviewer's perspective! I recognize the importance of interviewing for career development, but since this is Manager Tools, I just assumed the manager would be the interviewer!

As you point out, it's very easy to turn the information 180 and run with it. I'm still in the preparation portion, but am blown away.

Another potential use, for me, is sales. I interview with clients for their work all the time. They're basically hiring my team to be their IT department. So far everything M&M suggest fits perfectly into that model.

Mark's picture
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Suit. Close. Period. ;-)

Sorry this is so overdue.