Great interview questions to ask internal applicants

Aug 22, 2023
min read

Hiring is a significant undertaking for any business. It can be expensive, time-consuming, and it comes with its own set of risks. 

Enter: internal hiring. 

It’s a cost-effective, time-saving option that mitigates many of the challenges and risks of external hiring. When you hire internally, not only are you already familiar with an internal candidate's work ethic, strengths and weaknesses, and how they fit into company culture, but they also understand the ins and outs of your business from firsthand experience. It’s a win on both sides. 

However, internal applicants have already been through your interview process, so the questions you ask can't just be a copy-and-paste of your current external interviews. Internal interviews get to be more specific and in-depth – but how do you ensure you're asking the right questions to find the best fit for the role?

In this blog, we'll outline the benefits of internal hiring and get you started with a few interview questions to ask internal applicants. Let's dive in!

The benefits of hiring internally

At Humi, we’re all about taking good care of your people. So, the reason we can get behind internal hiring is it can have immense value for your employee development. Think of it like this: hiring internally isn’t just about filling a role, but about nurturing in-house talent. When you hire from within, you're investing in the growth and development of the rockstars that are already on your team. 

Another benefit of internal hiring is that it saves you money since there’s no need for job listings and advertisements for external candidates. It can also significantly speed up the hiring process, eliminating the need for sourcing external candidates, conducting background checks, and processing paperwork – or even assessing a cultural fit. Since internal candidates have already gone through these assessments, internal interviews allow for more in-depth questions that are specific to the role. These can include getting a deeper understanding of the candidate's communication style, their track record in the company, and their comprehension of business operations.

By leveraging internal hiring, you're also boosting job satisfaction and talent retention. Internal hiring sends a clear message to your team that you're willing to invest in their professional growth. This can lead to increased loyalty, productivity, and overall performance.

Questions to ask internal applicants

Ask company-specific questions

Understanding how an internal candidate sees the company can provide valuable insights into how they might transition into a new role. This is an essential part of the interview process as it allows you to gauge the candidate's perception of the company and their role within it. It also gives you an idea of their commitment to the company's mission and values.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What have you learned working for our company that will help you in this new role?
    This question allows you to understand how the internal applicant has grown within the company and how they have leveraged their experiences to prepare for the new role. It also gives you an idea of how quick they are to learn new things, and their adaptability.

  • Given the opportunity, what would you like to change about our operations?
    This question, although it can be tough, can provide insights into the candidate's critical thinking skills and their understanding of the company's operations. It also gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their problem-solving skills and their ability to drive change.

  • What do you like best about working for the company?
    Asking this question will help you understand what motivates the candidate and what aspects of the company culture they value the most. It can also give you an idea of what keeps them engaged and committed to the company.

Deep dive into their contributions

Taking a deep dive into an internal candidate's contributions to the company is a crucial part of the internal interview process. This exploration allows you to assess their potential in a new role and understand their impact on the organization so far.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your proudest achievement in your current position?
    This question allows the candidate to highlight their most significant accomplishments within the company. It gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, abilities, and the value they've added to the business.

  • Have you managed any projects in your current position?
    Asking about project management experience can provide insights into the candidate's leadership, organizational, and strategic planning skills. It also helps you understand their ability to handle responsibility and their experience in driving initiatives.

  • What was the most challenging project you’ve worked on within the company?
    This will help you understand the candidate's problem-solving skills and resilience. It allows them to demonstrate how they handle challenges, overcome obstacles, and find solutions.

Consider their motivations and aspirations

Understanding an internal candidate's motivations and aspirations can help you determine if the new role aligns with their career goals. After all, it's not just about whether they can do the job, but whether the job is a fit for them.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Does this new role align with your own career goals?
    This can help you gauge if the position is a step forward in their career path – or if it's just a detour that might not be the best move for them.

  • How would you spend your first 30 days in this role?
    This can give you insights into their approach toward the new role, their planning and organizational skills, and their ability to adapt to new responsibilities.

  • Why do you think you will be successful in this position?
    Asking this question can help you understand their confidence in their skills and abilities, their understanding of the role, and their motivation to succeed.

Focus on soft skills

Soft skills are often overlooked in interviews, but they’re crucial for success in any role. Especially if the internal interview is for a promotion, the questions you ask should focus on four important soft skills: leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management.

Consider asking:

  • What traits make someone a good leader?
    This question can help you understand the candidate's perspective on leadership and whether they possess the qualities necessary to guide a team effectively.

  • How would your teammates describe your communication style?
    You’ll be able to get insight into how the candidate interacts with others and whether they can effectively convey information and ideas by asking this.

  • What is your ideal team structure?
    Asking this question can help you gauge the candidate's ability to work well with others and their understanding of team dynamics.

  • What process do you use to determine time requirements for your projects?
    With this question, you get a sense of the candidate's organizational skills and their ability to manage their workload effectively.

Allow them to ask questions

At the end of an internal interview, it's a good idea to allow the candidate to ask their own questions. It’s beneficial for both you and them – for the candidate, it's a chance to clarify any uncertainties and to express their interest in the role. For you, the interviewer, it's a chance to gain further insight into the candidate's motivations, aspirations, and understanding of the role.

Here are some questions an internal applicant might ask:

  • What would you like to see me achieve within the first six months in the role?
    This question shows that the candidate is forward-thinking and focused on delivering results. It also gives you an opportunity to share your expectations and goals for the role.

  • What is the opportunity for career growth?
    This question indicates that the candidate is ambitious and interested in long-term growth within the organization. Their interest in career progression can also be a sign of their commitment to the company.

  • Can you tell me about the team I will be working with?
    This question demonstrates the candidate's interest in teamwork and collaboration. It also gives you a chance to discuss the team dynamics and how the candidate might fit into the existing structure.

Internal hiring = unlocking your team’s potential  

Internal hiring is a strategic move that can bring great value to your business. By asking the right questions during an internal interview, you can gain a deeper understanding of the internal applicant's strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations, which ultimately helps you find the best fit for the role.

Remember: the goal with internal hiring is not just to fill an opening, but to invest in your employees and recognize their progress. So, next time you have a vacancy, look within your team – you might find your next star player right under your nose.

Need help building your dream team? Talk to us about our Recruiting module today.

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