How to Beat an Internal Candidate at a Job Interview


by Lia, Everyday Interview Tips

Internal candidates definately have an advantage over outside candidates. They already know the company, the systems and processes and they have established relationships with many people. But, if they were perfect for the role, the company would not bother to advertise it externally. The fact that they have advertised the position shows you they don’t believe they already have the perfect person for the job. So, you have a great chance as long as you perform really well during the job interview.

Convincing them to Hire Outside the Company

Employers love moving people around rather than hiring outside of the company because there is less of a learning curve and quite honestly it’s cheaper. From a risk point of view hiring a known can often be better than hiring an unknown. But that only works if the internal candidate is qualified and capable of filling the role. Here are several tips for ensuring that you look much more impressive than any internal applicant.

  • Look Ready to Run With the Role

As you know, companies sometimes hire internal candidates to save time and eliminate the learning curve. Show them you can hit the ground running by asking questions like – What are the immediate priorities for this role?” and, “What would you like to see accomplished in this position in the first three months?”. This shows them you can close the learning curve very quickly and does not leave you at a disadvantage.

  • Ask and Respond to Culture

Find out what the culture of the workplace is and if there is anything about it that they would want fixed/different. If so, explain how you represent that difference. Let them see you as a breath of fresh air, ready to change the culture of the company for the better.

  • Bring Interesting Ideas

While not relevant for all positions, see if you can bring any interesting ideas that could improve the workplace. For example, if you are taking a job as an office assistant, talk about the ways that you’ve been able to or will be able to improve management of the office – such as organizational strategies that are more effective and efficient. Also, ask great questions.

  • Research and Prepare

Ask the hiring manager for a detailed job description before your interview and study it well. Research the company thoroughly using their website, social assets, media clippings etc… Download the employer’s annual report, press releases and other useful materials. Look for anything that describes the function and purpose of the department in which the job is located. Try and work your answers so that they relate to the needs of the company and the department.

  • Be Super Polite and Likeable

Internal applicants are often friends with the interviewer. So you need to show that you are friendly, positive and would be a great personality to have in the department. Be professional and friendly from the minute you walk into the building until the moment you leave it. You want them to feel comfortable with you and see you as an ideal fit for the team with fresh ideas and perspectives.

The Right Answers, The Right Knowledge

The best way to beat out any applicant is to make sure you look like the best applicant, and that means great answers, knowledge of the company, the ability to learn, a positive attitude, and all general interview tips. But go a step further, by addressing the company itself and framing yourself as a bright and interesting mind that the company NEEDS to have and you’ll ultimately be able to beat out even internal applicants.

Share It