So an exciting new job opening in your department or company has just come up and you want it — looks like it’s yours for the taking, right? Not necessarily. Being a current employee puts you a step ahead of outside competition, but don’t think it will let you jump the whole line.
Jeff Baldock, president and founder of career consulting firm CareerSport Inc., says it’s easy to feel complacent and comfortable about applying for an internal position, since you might know the interviewer personally or assume the company is dead-set on hiring from within. However, while familiarity might give you an advantage over an outside candidate, you shouldn’t assume the new position will be served up to you on a silver platter. After all, if that was the case you probably would have been offered the spot already.
“The company’s concern is still to get the right person into the position. It’s not like starting over but it’s still a case where a business is trying to increase its productivity,” Baldock said.
Your advantage as a current employee comes more from inside knowledge about the specific methods and goals of the company that outsiders couldn’t possibly know.
“By knowing the culture of the company, you will have insights where you can speak to some of the goals of the company and can highlight what you can do that fits those goals,” Baldock said.
Don’t assume the person hiring for the position knows a lot about you already either. They may have shared a joke or two with you near the water cooler but have no specific knowledge about your successes and responsibilities within the company.
“One of the mistakes people make is assuming that the interviewer knows all about the work they’ve done. Make sure you give examples of things you’ve done and address your strengths correctly,” Baldock said.
Baldock recommends creating a portfolio of your work and being ready to talk about it in the interview. Putting your best foot forward will show just how serious you are about excelling in the new position.
“Preparation is still important, very much so. The amount of preparation you do shows the kind of quality you can put into your work, and it shows your willingness to be a team player,” Baldock said.
Most importantly, treating the interview seriously is a sign of respect for your job and your co-workers, since no one wants to work with someone who treats a job like a free ride.
“People are hiring people they want to work with as well as people who would fit for their job,” Baldock said.