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Applying for an internal position can be a HUGE advantage. As a current employee, you already know how the company works and its internal processes. You know the company’s mission and core values. One of the biggest advantages you have when applying for an internal position is that you already have a trustworthy reference from your manager who can vouch for your worth ethic and character.
You may even already know and get along well with the hiring manager! All these advantages when applying for an internal position can give you a sense of security and confidence that you will get the position. However, this advantage as an internal applicant can be a pitfall as you may not treat it as seriously as you should.
Do not let your advantage be a disadvantage!
Do not make these 4 mistakes when applying for an internal position
Being dishonest and keeping it from your boss
You should be upfront and honest with your current boss. The worst thing that can happen is that your boss finds out you are applying for another role and feels betrayed or blind sided. It’s a small world and people can talk. Especially if they are at the same company.
Make your boss aware that you are interested in applying for this position and why.
If your boss was a good manager in the first place, this would not come at a shock. You should be having regular conversations with your boss about your interests, development plan, and future goals. So it should be no surprise that when a position opens up that is in line with your development plan, you will want to apply to it.
When you are explaining to your boss why you want to apply to this position, frame it as a great opportunity for you to learn, grow, and develop. Always put it in a positive light. If the real reason is because you are unhappy in your current role for whatever reason, do not divulge this information. Especially if the reason you are leaving is because of your boss!
You want your boss on your side and their full support in your application process! If you are going to get an interview, the hiring manager will most likely reach out to your boss for a reference.
Waiting for a position to open to connect with the hiring manager
One of your BIGGEST advantages as an internal applicant is your accessibility to the team and hiring manager. Why would you let the very first point of contact be when you are interviewing? Reach out to the hiring manager to connect BEFORE a position is available!
If you are having regular discussions with your boss about your development and your goals, you will have an idea of what your next career steps will be. If it is a promotion or a lateral move in another department, you can find out who the managers are.
Reach out to them and get to know them. More importantly, let them get to know you! Build real relationships!
Have an informational interview about the roles they manage. This will also give you more insight into the roles and if it is a good next career step for you. Ask about the skills required to excel in the role and work on developing those skills! This will give you a HUGE advantage when a job does open up and you apply for it!
Related: What is an informational interview and how to conduct one
Not taking your internal interview seriously
If you’ve taken the above advice and have reached out to the hiring manager before a job opening to build a relationship, that’s great! If a job opened up and you applied, chances are you probably got an interview!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when applying to an internal position is not treating it like an official interview. If you already have a relationship with the hiring manager, you may think you do not have to prepare as much because they already know you. They may already know your work and your work speaks for itself.
Don’t make this mistake. Don’t let yourself get comfortable. DO NOT turn your advantage into a disadvantage.
Be assured those external applicants will definitely take this seriously and will definitely be prepared and bring their A game. So should you! Prepare for your internal interview like it is an external interview.
Not giving enough details in interview questions
Expanding on the previous point, another mistake internal candidates can often make when applying for a job is not giving enough details. If the hiring manager already knows you and your work, it may sound silly to give detailed answers to interview questions. Especially if they already know of the examples you want to bring up in a situational interview question!
This may lead you to answer the questions simply, and therefore poorly. You may want to breeze over your work because you assume the hiring manager is already aware and remember the work you have done.
Listen, people and especially managers are busy. They may not remember your work, and even if they do, why are you making them work to figure out how you provide value?
Lay it out for them clearly and in detail! Give step by step detailed examples of how you add value. Always answer questions in the STAR method. If you follow the STAR method, you won’t skip any details.
Related: What is the STAR method
So there you have 4 common mistakes to avoid when applying for an internal position. You have a massive advantage when applying as an internal candidate. Make sure you make the most of it!