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INTERVIEWING

The Insider s Guide


FOR
INTERNAL
JOB SEARCH

Interviewing

Whats Inside
INTRODUCTION
Keys to Interviewing Internally....................................................................... 3
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Research the Position..................................................................................... 4
Challenges & Solutions....................................................................... 4
Match Your Strengths to the Job (SOAR Technique)...................................... 5
Prepare Your Materials................................................................................... 6
Know What to Ask: Prepare Your Questions................................................. 7
Challenges & Solutions....................................................................... 7
Understand the Types of Interviews.............................................................. 9
Insider Tip: Social Media Checklist................................................................. 10
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Make a Good Impression.............................................................................. 11
Challenges & Solutions....................................................................... 11
Keys to Success.............................................................................................. 12
How the Interview Should Go........................................................................ 13
Insider Tip: Avoid the Traps............................................................................ 14
Be Ready for Questions.................................................................................. 15
Challenges & Solutions....................................................................... 15
Internal Job Interview Questions.................................................................... 16
Insider Tip: How to Succeed During the Interview......................................... 16
Be Prepared for Behavioral-Based Questions.............................................. 17
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
What Now?..................................................................................................... 18
Challenges & Solutions....................................................................... 18
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up................................................................... 19
And What if You Dont Get the Job?.............................................................. 19
LAST WORDS
Checklist for Interviewing................................................................... 20

Click on this icon throughout the book to see expanded information!

Interviewing

Introduction
Keys to Interviewing Internally
Approach an internal interview for a new position in your organization the same way you would if you were
interviewing for a new job outside the company. Take the process seriously.
Be prepared, punctual, courteous and professional. You still need to earn the confidence and respect of the
interviewer. Avoid appearing complacent or arrogant; dont make any assumptions about how much the
interviewer knows about your work and achievements. Be prepared to prove yourself by sharing examples
of your best work and results. Ask smart questions that will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.
Your goal is to provide and obtain information for further decision making. No matter how successful you
may have been in your current role or how well qualified you may be, how you present yourself and the
confidence you engender will be a key factor in proving that you are the best candidate for the position.
When asked to interview for an internal position, it is a good time to prepare and hone your interviewing
skills. How you show up to the interview matters. Your success will be based on the degree to which you:
Demonstrate your knowledge of your organizations business issues and how you can
positively impact those issues.

Demonstrate your compatibility with future colleagues.


Differentiate yourself from other qualified candidates.
This guide is designed to give you a quick look at the internal interviewing process and what you need to do
to be prepared and successful. It is divided into three distinct parts:
1

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

DURING THE INTERVIEW

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

All three phases are important in determining your success in the interview process. Now, lets begin with
Before the Interview.

Interviewing

Before the Interview


Research the Position
You already have a good understanding of the organization, its history, products and results. You also know
what its like to work there. But there may be differences from one department to another or within different
levels in the organization.
Before going to the interview, you should find out:
Why is the position open?
How long has the position been open?
What is the manager like?
Use your network to learn more about the position, the manager and the team. After youve done your
research, you can decide if its the place you want to be. If it is, then you can truly start preparing for the
internal interview.

The Challenge: Learning More About the Position Through Internal Information
Channels
Solutions:
1

Get feedback from trusted people around the organization. Do they see you in this type of role? Why
or why not? Its always good to test the waters before jumping in all the way.

Make a conscious effort to communicate outside your department.

Use social networking to make more connections.

The Challenge: Seeking a New, Unfamiliar Position


Solutions:
1

Research exactly what the other department does and problems they may be facing. New faces
with innovative answers make a great case for being hired.

Discover any skills needed for the job that you may not have and immediately address it. Perhaps
sign up for an online class.

Adopt a positive attitude that you can do the job and well.

Interviewing

Match Your Strengths to the Job


You have probably seen a job description that includes the skills and other requirements needed for the job.
You need to show the interviewer that your skills and competencies are a good match for the job.
The best way to do this is by addressing each requirement, sharing accomplishments that demonstrate
your abilities in that area. Choose accomplishments that demonstrate your effectiveness in solving
challenges and achieving key goals relevant to the new position. Here are two examples:
Job Criteria

Strong Accomplishment Statements

Sales-Driven

I influenced prospective clients of my companys main


competitor, convincing them to close on
multi-million dollar, long-term contracts by
demonstrating value over the competition.

Excellent Communication Skills

I helped keep a half-million dollar account by explaining


the order delay and negotiating a new delivery date,
which exceeded the customers expectations.

As you prepare for the interview, its important you develop at least 10 accomplishment stories that you
would be ready to share. It would be preferable to have them demonstrate your proficiency at the current
company, but if you have especially impressive accomplishment stories from a previous employer, dont
hesitate to share those.
A method called SOAR can help you further develop these all-important accomplishment stories that
showcase your skills. The acronym stands for the following:

S
O
A
R

Situation

Describe the situation.

Obstacles

Describe the obstacles you faced.

Actions

List the actions you took.

Results

Describe the results you helped obtain and the benefits to the employer.

A SOAR story example might be:


As a Sales Manager in telecommunications, we had to create a sales strategy for a new
product in development. It required me to bring together all the key stakeholders and develop
the strategy in just one week. The strategy increased quarterly sales by 25%.

Take the time to develop your SOAR stories and have them ready to present. It could make the difference in
you getting the job. You should also use these accomplishments when updating your resume.

Interviewing

Prepare Your Materials


Youll need to prepare your reference sheet (as well as your resume) in advance of the interview. Although
you may not need it, you definitely should have it in case the interviewer asks. You might consider asking
your current managers if they would give you a reference.
A sample reference sheet is as follows:

NAME
Street Address
City, State, Zip

Phone
Email

REFERENCES
Reference Name
Internal References:
Reference Name
Job Title
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Phone
Email
Reference Name
Job Title
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Phone
Email

Background
(Reference Name) is currently my manager at (Name
of Your Company). I worked directly for (Name) for
two years.

(Reference Name) is currently my Assistant Manager


at (Name of Your Company). I have worked directly
with her for one year.

External References:
Reference Name
Job Title
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Phone
Email

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(Reference Name) was Assistant Director of Research


and Production and is now Technical Services
Manager of (Company Name). I worked directly for
him as a Research Analyst during the past 10 years.

Know What to Ask: Prepare Your Questions


Interviewers gauge your interest in the job through the questions you ask. You dont want to bombard
the interviewer with dozens of questions; pick your questions carefully. Be prepared to ask questions to
determine job fit for you and them.
When asking internal interview questions, you have some unique challenges:

Challenge: Balancing Your Insider Knowledge with a Fresh Perspective


Solutions:
1

Mix questions based on your experience in your workplace with a slant that shows a new
perspective.

Put your concepts or ideas and assumptions into a question carefully.

Ask a few out-of-the box questions. Consider asking the hiring manager, What are a couple of
misconceptions people have about your group? Or, ask a peer who is interviewing you, What do
you know now that you wish you knew before you started in your position?

Challenge: Developing an Accurate View of the Position and Group Culture


Solutions:
1

Set aside your own internal opinion, and word questions in a way that shows you are open
to new information.

Listen carefully to the words, phrases and descriptions in the answers to your questions.

Ask politely and second-guess carefully. You are seeking information to fill a gap in your knowledge.
The answer to a question like, Why is this position open? will give you valuable information to verify
what you think you know.

Whenever possible, ask questions of peers you will be working with in the job.

Interviewing

Know What to Ask: Prepare Your Questions


If youre using questions to gather knowledge, before you pose a question:
Define exactly what it is you want to know.
Have a concept of what is unclear about the information in your head.
Consider who you will be interviewing with; tailor your questions accordingly.

Interview Questions to Ask


the Hiring Manager

Interview Questions to Ask Peer-Level


Interviewers

How would you describe your groups culture?

Why did you decide to join this group?

What is your vision for your department over the


next two to three years?

What are some of the challenges a person in this


group faces?

What major challenges are you currently facing


as a manager?

Were your expectations met?

How would you describe your


management style?

What do you like most about working for your


manager? What do you like least?

What are the most important skills and


attributes you are looking for in filling
this position?

What do you consider to be your groups greatest


strengths and weaknesses?

What is your preferred method of


communicating with your team?

What do you know now that you wish you knew


before you started in your position?

What specific skills from the person you hire


would make your life easier?
What are some of the skills and abilities you
see as necessary for someone to succeed
in this job?
What are the attributes of the job youd like to
see improved?

Interviewing

Understand the Types of Interviews


Applying for an internal position with your current employer might lead to a quicker, and perhaps
streamlined, interview process, but its important to know that the type of interviews may vary. Although
most could be one-on-one, there is a strong trend toward team interviewing for efficiency purposes.
There are many types of interviews:
Presentation Interviews: Some interviewers require that candidates make formal presentations on a
selected topic as part of the interview process. Practice is the key. If you practice talking comfortably
about yourself and your accomplishments, you will add to your poise and confidence.
Interviews with Decision Makers: These interviews are with a candidates future manager(s)
who may make offers. If you have done well in the interview process, you will have some positive
momentum when you meet the decision makers, because favorable evaluations will precede you.
Sequential Interviews: These are a series of interviews scheduled one after another at specific
intervals over a period of time (half-day or full-day). Sequential interviews can be conducted with
a reporting chain of supervisors, peers or team members. It is important to consider each new
interviewer as the most important person you are meeting. Focus on active listening and thoughtful
responses for that individual.
Panel Interviews: These are interviews conducted by a number of interviewers (usually three to
five) in the same room at the same time. In addition to saving time, consensus can be developed
by simultaneously obtaining a number of interviewer reactions. Here you will need to make each
individual feel that you are paying particular attention to him or her. Be sure to maintain eye contact
as you address each interviewer.

Interviewing

Insider Tip: Social Media Checklist


While youre preparing for your interview with an interviewer, be aware that the interviewer is also doing
homework on you. Just as employers on the outside would be doing, this insider interviewer is checking
LinkedIn and other social media sites to find out more about you. First, make sure youre out there on the
Web. In todays tech-savvy world, you have to show youre keeping up. Here are some other tips:
Make sure you have a LinkedIn account in particular. If not, sign up.
Validate all your profile information.
Update your most recent accomplishments.
Ask for recommendations from your colleagues. If you already have, ask for more.
Check your Facebook account for anything derogatory. Set privacy limits.
Reevaluate what youre posting on Twitter and other social media sites. Right now, youre under the
microscope.

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During the Interview


Make a Good Impression
Although there is a good chance you may have met the person in your organization who is interviewing
you, it is vitally important that you display only your best, most professional side in this all-important
interview.
Come prepared with the following:
In certain jobs, it would be important to bring samples of your work. For example, if you were
applying for a graphic artist position, you might want to bring your iPad to show off your portfolio.
Hard copies of your resume for the interviewer, as well as a copy for you to refer to.
Your reference list to present when asked for in the interview.
A nice, neat folder to keep it all organized plus, it shows you have good organizational skills.

The Challenge: Adopting a Positive Attitude


Solutions:
1

Look at the situation as an opportunity.

Say only good things about your boss and department youre leaving.

Be positive and smile. Your attitude will make or break you.

Watch your nonverbal cues.

The Challenge: Treating This as Seriously as an Outside Interview


Solutions:
1

Be prepared with your questions and answers.

Dress and act as if it were an outside interview.

Follow the basic niceties and rules of politeness in your particular organizations culture.

Interviewing

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Keys To Success
Arrive on Time

There is nothing worse than beginning an interview by apologizing for being late.
Plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early, so you can relax before the interview
starts.

Even if youre used to dressing casually at your company, dress up for the
interview unless you are told otherwise. Appropriate attire supports your image
Physical Presence as a person who takes the interview process seriously. Dressing nicely is also a
compliment to the interviewer.
Use natural gestures; no matter how nervous, do not clench your fists. Avoid
Movements
fidgeting or fussing with objects such as a pen, glasses or change in your pocket.
and Mannerisms Move around naturally; avoid looking stiff or awkward.

Manner of
Speaking

Make sure you can be heard; be aware of the interviewers reaction to your voice.
Do not mumble and avoid monotone recitations, which indicate you
over-rehearsed. Also, avoid slang such as you know.

Demeanor

Convey the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, warmth and sincerity to suit the
dynamics of your interviewer. Be positive, avoid negative topics and dont vent
hostility especially about the company. Smile!

Listening Skills

Listen with full concentration and maintain eye contact 90% of the time (without
staring). Indicate attention and acceptance with nods and smiles, avoid
interrupting and allow silence when thought and reflection are needed.

Communication
Skills

Mirror the style and pace of your interviewer. Answer forthrightly and credibly, and
stop when you have answered the question. Dont over-elaborate with details or
anecdotes; dont ramble or interrupt. If you dont know something, say so. Clarify
a question if you dont understand it. Listen before you talk, and think before you
speak.

Interview Hints

Elicit departmental or functional needs early in the interview using open-ended


questions. Weave in your strengths and accomplishments in response to those
needs. Respond to doubts or objections positively without being defensive.

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How the Interview Should Go


Dont let the interview turn into a one-way conversation. As much as possible, try to make it into a
discussion where you show you are genuinely interested in this new position and how you can help. Try
these suggestions:
Uncover the Business Needs: Before explaining how you can contribute, get the interviewer to talk
about the job and the problems the department faces.
Be Friendly and Relaxed: The interviewer is human too and wants to work with pleasant, likeable
people. If the interviewer enjoys your time together, they may overlook your lack of a skill or two.
Discuss your accomplishments often and appropriately.
Observe and Help the Interviewer: Is the interviewer having trouble coming up with the right
question? Help by asking, What else would you like to know about my background? If the
interviewer is glancing at the clock, make your answers shorter.
Wrapping Up: You know the interviewer wants to end the interview if he/she stands up, asks if you
have any more questions or begins to thank you for coming.
Interview Closure Questions: End the interview with questions such as:




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What are the next steps?


What is the timing?
How many candidates are you planning to interview?
Will there be additional rounds of interviews?
When will you notify the candidates?

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Insider Tip: Avoid the Traps


Why did I say that? is frequently heard from applicants who have fallen into traps. Here are some
common traps and how to avoid them:
Giving Too Much Information: Answer only the question that was asked and be brief. Avoid boring
details and negative comments. It is better to give too little information than say too much.
Dont Promise Too Much: Interviewers quickly see through statements like, I can do anything. Im
sure Ill have this areas production up by 50% in no time.
Arguing with the Interviewer: Even if the interviewer is wrong, it is unwise to get into an argument.
This person has the power to hire you or pass you on to the hiring manager.
Letting the Interviewer Ask All the Questions: You will appear to lack initiative and interest, and you
will come away with most of your questions about the job unanswered.
Silence: Do not let a period of silence encourage you to say the wrong thing. If a silence becomes
uncomfortable, break it by asking a question of your own to make sure the conversation flows freely.
Asking About Salary Too Soon: Prove your own value for the position youre applying for first and
hold off on salary talk.
Answering Embarrassing Questions: Dont give long explanations; they arouse suspicion.
Give a brief answer and stop talking. Many interviewers will move on and not question you further.
For example:

Our industry has been experiencing some tough economic times, so I understand the
companys decision to restructure. My goal is a challenging position where I can
continue to contribute.

Interviewing

14

Be Ready for Questions


When youre interviewing for an internal position with your current employer, many of the interview
questions you will be asked are the typical interview questions. Almost assuredly, youll also be asked
questions around the role youre currently in. Your task will be to show how your current position has helped
to make you an even better fit for the new role.

The Challenge: Leveraging Your Insider Advantage


Solutions:
1

Differentiate yourself by highlighting company-specific experience, knowledge and skills.

Give examples of successful accomplishments and projects that helped meet company goals.

Do your research to determine what the hiring manager is looking for in the person to fill the job.

Present your ideas without appearing to criticize company colleagues.

The Challenge: Providing Enough Detail in Your Answers


Solutions:
1

Prepare your answers as if you were interviewing with someone that knows nothing about you.

Dont assume that the interviewer knows the details and background behind each of your company
experiences.

Be tactful when you talk about improvements youve made or would make if offered the new job.

Interviewing

15

Internal Job Interview Questions


Following are some of the internal job interview questions you may be asked when interviewing for a new
job with your current employer:
Does your manager know you have applied for this job?
Would your manager recommend you for this position?
What is it like working for your supervisor?
What do you like best about your current position at the company?
What dont you like about the job youre in now?
What other positions have you held with the company?
How long have you been in your current position?
What was your biggest success story in our organization?
What do you know about the position you are being considered for?
What do you know about our team/department/group?
Why do you want the new position?
Why should we consider you for this position?
Are you the best candidate for this position? Why?
What training will you need to be successful in this position?
How would you handle the transition to your new job?
How will you handle it if you dont get the job?

Insider Tip: How to Succeed During the Interview


Tell Me About Your Experience with the Organization
How much time should I talk about current and past skills and experience?
Modify the amount of time you talk about current and past skills and experience.

If you have been at your current employer

Prepare to discuss your current role

less than a year

25-50% of the interview

one to three years

50-75% of the interview

more than three years

80% of the interview

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Be Prepared for Behavioral-Based Questions


In addition to the normal interview questions, you can probably expect to be asked how you acted in
specific employee-related situations. The logic behind these questions is that how you behaved in the past
will predict how you will behave in the future.
As an internal candidate, you may also get questions specifically related to your skills, knowledge and
experience using the internal structure in your company:

Behavioral Questions

In Your Answer

Describe a recent occasion when you used your


knowledge of the internal structure in the company
to answer complex questions about a project.

Discuss how you used your knowledge about how


the internal structure of the company works to
get results.

In which areas do you consider yourself to be a


specialist, and how do you envision being able to
use your expertise within this job?

Pick one area to expand knowledge in core


functional areas and show your awareness of how
it will apply to this job. Consider expanding ideas to
meet organizational needs as well as job needs.

In which areas of your job do you feel capable, and


in which areas do you feel more comfortable
utilizing other peoples experience?

Show recognition of personal limitations,


demonstrate a commitment to improve and
highlight the value of teamwork.

Tell us about a time you successfully handled


conflict with a colleague on another team.

Respond in a way that is in line with company


policies or norms and shows you know how to
handle conflict specifically at your organization.

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17

After the Interview


What Now?
Although there are certain things you have to do at this point, patience is the name of the game. If you
passed the muster in the first round, there may be more interviews coming your way. Remember to stay
positive.
At this point, it might be helpful to do an interview post-analysis to help you assess your need for further
practice or training. Be honest with yourself. Learn from each experience, and apply your cumulative
learning to continuously improve your interviewing skills.
Use the following questions as a post-analysis checklist:
What went well? Why?
What did not go well? Why?
What would I do differently if I were to repeat the interview?
What are the key take-aways? What interview skills must I further develop?

The Challenge: How to Stay Connected to the Interviewer


Solutions:
1

Follow up with an email within 24 hours.

If you dont hear anything after a weeks time, send another email and ask about next steps.

Dont camp out by the interviewers door and make a pest of yourself. Conversely, if you run into
interviewers in the hallway, make sure you acknowledge their presence politely.

The Challenge: How to Keep Your Momentum


Solutions:
1

Evaluate your interview, and improve on areas that might be weaknesses.

Continue to market yourself for other positions within the company.

Hone your skills and talents for whatever opportunity arises.

Continue your social networking strategies.

Interviewing

18

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up


Just as you would in an interview with an external company, sending a thank-you note is important. Make
sure you send it within 24 hours.
If the situation doesnt seem right for an actual note since its an internal interview, then stick to an email.
Heres an example of a simple thank-you email:

I wanted to thank you for the time and the consideration. Please let me know if there
are more questions youd like me to follow up on...

You may also want to use the email or note as an opportunity to:
Reinforce. In a sentence or two, restate the skills, accomplishments and experience that make you
right for the job.
Recoup. If there is something you wish you had made clearer, or forgot to say in the interview,
you can briefly let the interviewer know.
Remind. In the closing sentence, you can tactfully remind the interviewer of a promise or an
agreement. (Thank you for your interest and encouragement. I look forward to hearing from you
by next Wednesday to learn the date of my next interview.)
After that, follow up with the interviewer weekly until next steps are identified or a final decision is made.

And What if You Dont Get the Job?


Perhaps there is another position that interests you within the company. By now, you should have already
scoped it out and have an interview lined up. If so, use the previous interview as a learning experience to
ace this one.
Continue to perform your current job to the best of your abilities, and stay on good terms with your current
manager. Perhaps you should even recruit him/her as an ally in your internal job search. Dont burn any
bridges especially within the company.
Most of all stay positive. A confident demeanor will help take you where you want to go.

Interviewing

19

Last Words
So thats an overview of interviewing. Approach an internal interview in your organization the same way you
would if you were interviewing for a job outside the company. Take the process seriously.
Be prepared, punctual, courteous and professional. You still need to earn the confidence and respect of the
interviewer. Be prepared to prove yourself by sharing examples of your best work and results. Ask smart
questions that will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.
Now is also the time to begin getting your message down. You want to be able to call up and articulate
the right material at a moments notice, so take some time to rehearse before you go live.
Take a moment and consider this checklist.

Checklist for Interviewing:


Have you researched the position? This should include using your internal network for information.
Have you prepared yourself for all types of interviews: presentation, with decision makers,
sequential and panel?
Have you considered videotaping yourself to see how you present in an interview setting?
Have you developed a list of questions and practiced them?
Have you reviewed your accomplishment stories and prepared those relevant to the organization
and position?
Have you practiced talking comfortably about yourself and your accomplishments? This will add to
your poise and confidence.
After each interview, did you determine what went well and how you might be prepared to present
yourself better in the next interview?

Lee Hecht Harrison, LLC. All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced by photocopy or any
other means without written permission of Lee Hecht Harrison, LLC

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