The 30+ Best Questions for an Internal Interview

Hiring is an expensive and risky undertaking—which is why internal recruiting can seem like such an appealing option. Internal recruiting mitigates the risk that comes with external hiring. Not only do you know an internal candidate's strengths and weaknesses, but they also know your business.

Plus, research suggests that internal hires are more likely to succeed. In a recent study of more than 109,000 commissioned salespeople, University of Minnesota researchers found that internal hires tend to be stronger performers who are more likely to stay long-term.

Asking the right internal job interview questions can help current employees understand your focus on employee development and stay engaged—whether you fill the position with an internal or external candidate.

Read on to discover the best questions for internal interviews and top tips for conducting an internal job interview.

Should You Interview Internal Candidates?

Many employers are inclined to skip interviewing internal candidates if they feel their employees aren’t qualified for the job—but this is a serious mistake.

Internal hiring can be an effective way to reap the fruit of your employee development efforts. Not only does this save on the cost of replacing employees, but effective employee development gives you the opportunity to fill more positions with pre-trained internal hires.

Promoting internal mobility, where staff move roles within a business, can bring a wealth of benefits to a business, including:

Providing fair consideration for your employees can help you demonstrate your organization’s willingness to invest in employee development and recognize progress—whether or not the internal candidate gets the job.

The key is to narrow your internal interview questions to focus on the most important aspects required of the role and its career path. Remember, honest consideration can fuel engagement among your employees.

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The 30+ Best Questions for an Internal Interview

When it comes to the questions asked in an internal interview, make sure they focus on four important soft skills:

Below, you’ll find a list of internal job interview questions which will cover these four core development areas. Each category will also include questions to help uncover the employee’s motivation for making the change, and if they will remain engaged if they don’t get the new position. Take these considerations into account as you select your internal interview questions.

Remember: When asking any interview questions you want to ensure they’re open questions – questions which require more than one-word answers.

7 Internal Job Interview Questions About Leadership

Just because internal candidates haven’t had managerial titles doesn’t mean they haven’t shown leadership. Providing team members with opportunities to take the lead during projects can demonstrate that they have the trust of their managers and their organization.

It’s also important to encourage employees to be open with their motivation behind applying for leadership positions.

With that in mind, we recommend asking questions such as:

Remember: While it’s important to compensate leaders appropriately for their efforts, compensation shouldn’t be the sole motivation to apply for a leadership position. Is compensation tied to leadership positions in your organization? Or are there several paths for employees to progress?

Cultivating leadership in rank-and-file employees may also be important as workplace collaboration continues to evolve. Recognizing and developing leadership abilities can help your employees keep up.

8 Internal Job Interview Questions About Communication

One of the benefits of hiring an internal candidate is that you will already have some form of idea about the way they communicate. But it’s always good to discover their communication style and skills.

As you assess internal candidates’ communication skills, ask for examples of how your company values have influenced their communication patterns. If you value openness, for example, you could ask a question like “Describe a time when you needed to admit you were wrong. How did you go about it?”

Some questions that are good to ask include:

5 Internal Job Interview Questions About Collaboration

Collaboration is pivotal in the workplace, so delving deeper into the candidate’s collaboration skills is essential.

Below are some questions to raise in an internal interview:

Remember: One key part of collaboration is recognizing each team member’s strengths and using them to accomplish specific goals.

These strengths aren’t tied to a single personality type—an introverted writer may be just the person to dive deep into research for an extroverted product marketer to present. An effective collaborator will recognize their own strengths and the strengths of others as they make recommendations for roles and responsibilities.

As you process internal interview questions and answers in your applicant tracking system, make sure that you evaluate the strengths of all your candidates based on the needs of the position rather than an existing employee’s example. Which will benefit the team more: adding new strengths, or doubling up on existing strengths?

5 Internal Interview Questions About Time Management

Effective time management can bring a wealth of benefits, not only for a business but also for an employee’s work-life balance. Because of the benefits that effective time management has, it’s good to ask some questions to potential clients which address this essential skill.

Some questions we think are good to ask include:

Remember: Time management is just another way of framing priority management. Does the team with the opening deal with hard deadlines, soft deadlines, or a mixture of both? Will the successful applicant have to choose what to do first, or will the job require a steady stream of predictable performance?

With internal candidates, you'll already have a record of how they manage their time and priorities—so it's easier to match their strengths to a position that suits them.

7 Questions To Ask At The End Of An Internal Interview

At the end of an internal interview, the interviewer will likely ask a candidate if they have any questions. This is a great opportunity to show how interested you are in the company and the role.

As this is an internal interview, it’s likely you, as the candidate, will know the ins and outs of the business. So use these questions as an opportunity to learn more about the department (if it’s a new one!) and your potential for growth.

Some questions you could ask include:

Remember: It’s not a good idea to ask about salary and benefits at this point in the interview. It could appear as though you’re only interested in the position to get a salary increase. If you are asked about your salary expectations by the interviewer, you can answer honestly—but you shouldn’t broach the subject first.

Pro Tip: How to Conclude an Internal Interview

After going through these four core development areas, you want to end your interview on a high note. No matter the outcome of this hiring process, you’ll continue to see your internal candidates regularly, so it’s crucial to leave a positive, lasting impression.

Some best practices to incorporate as you approach the conclusion of your interview are:

Final Thoughts: Keep Internal Candidates Focused on Development

Your best employees are focused on development. Effective internal job interview questions can reinforce how their current position has contributed to their development in these four areas, whether the internal candidates end up in new positions or not.

Look out for them by being mindful of these components and the way you conclude your interview. There may be potential opportunities on the horizon that can further enhance their career.

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