How to Prepare for an Internal Job Interview

Most of us know how to prepare for a job interview somewhere new. You need to make sure your resume is up to date, that you know what position you are applying for and that you have done ample research on the company you are interviewing with. Preparing for an internal interview requires many of the same preparations, but often the expectations may be different because of your current position at the company. This puts you in a favorable position to be able to call on your experience to prove you’re ready for the job, whether it’s a step up to management or a move to a new department, you should know the internal workings of the company well enough to boost your strengths and move forward. At the same time, it’s important to be prepared for your company to choose the person they feel is the best fit, and you’ll want to make sure that you stay in good standing to continue working the job you have. We spoke to a few business leaders on how to prepare for an internal interview, and here’s what they had to say!

Sell Yourself! 

When showing up to an internal interview, be prepared to talk about your accomplishments so far with confidence! “Because you know the environment already, you should not be afraid to brag and be confident in your values towards the position you’re trying to secure. Remember, you’re selling yourself in an interview so make sure to highlight all of the qualities you feel are valuable to your promotion and don’t be afraid to boast!” said Gabrielle Mustapich, Co-CEO and CMO of Hardpops. Being on your company turf should make this a little easier, as they’ve seen and can contest your boastings. If they didn’t see those things too, you probably wouldn’t be sitting in the interview! 

Similarly, be sure to highlight ways that you’ve solved issues on the spot. “It’s likely that it will already be a question asked in the interview, but showing examples of ways that you have solved problems on your feet are great things to highlight your strengths for a new, higher position,” said Adam Mitchell, CEO of SponsorPulse.

Be Honest About Strengths and Weaknesses 

As much as you should feel comfortable bragging a little bit about your successes, you should also be prepared to be accountable for things you might need to work on or mistakes you’ve made in the past. “Be honest with yourself and your interviewers about past mistakes and things you can improve on. Moving up the ladder doesn’t mean we don’t have things to learn, and supervisors will want to see someone willing to learn and grow to take those higher positions,” said Woody Sears, Founder of HearHere.

This gives your interviewers the sense that you are down to earth, willing to work on your habits and continue to grow with the company. “It sounds strange, but being honest with your mistakes creates trust between you and your management team. This is important in an interview because companies want to hire people who they know will be accountable for their actions at work,” said Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front

Research and Speak to Your Supervisors About Your Intentions 

With any new position, you’ll want to make sure you do plenty of research on the position before you apply and move forward with the interview process. Being at the company you’re interviewing with certainly has its advantages in terms of access to people who know about the position. “Fortunately, you’re already on your “home turf” when it comes to an internal job interview, which means you should be able to gather quite a bit of information. If possible, speak to HR about the details of the open position, and even ask other team members who work in that department. Then, begin honing your skills and creating a resume that will showcase them,” said Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp.  

If possible, talk to someone in the company who has worked the position before. If such a person seems difficult to find, ask your HR department for details about the job! Ari Sherman, Co-Founder of evo hemp said “Make sure you learn everything there is to know about the position before the interview. Talk to your supervisor, HR department, or people who have worked this particular job before. This will give you additional insight into the position, and will show your supervisors that you have done your homework.” Even more importantly, make sure that your supervisor, team members and all important parties know of your intentions to apply for the new position. This will help them know to expect your application and will help them prepare to make a decision early on. “Make sure that once you have done your research and decide to move forward, tell your supervisor of your intentions as soon as possible. It’s best to get your foot in the door as quickly as you can to ensure your name is at the top of the list,” said Benjamin Meskin, President of Cabrella.

In addition to researching the role, you may need to research the person you’re interviewing with as Daniel Seehoff, CEO of Sophistiplate tells us. “Prepare based on who you will be interviewing with. If it is with someone you are close to, make sure to highlight your best projects and work, but you do not need to overdo your background. If the interview is with someone who you rarely worked with, make sure to have all of your ducks and projects in a row to highlight and deep-dive your work to showcase.”

Talk Up Your Current Job 

It’s natural to want to move up in your career and industry, but it’s important not to make your company feel like you’re unhappy in your current job. This will do the opposite of what you want and deter them from including you in their company going forward. “While you may be trying to move up, it’s important not to talk negatively towards the position you currently have. That will make your managers feel as though you don’t actually like working there. It’s a delicate balance between expressing desire to move forward, but also gratitude towards the work you’ve been able to do so far in your current job,” said Dino Ha, CEO of Kaja Beauty.

This can be done easily by being prepared to share some of your favorite things about your current job. Highlight the best aspects of working for the company so they can see that you really do like working there, and you want to be a part of things for the long haul. That means eventually, looking at ways you can move forward. “Be sure to mention what you have enjoyed about working at the company thus far so that the hiring manager can see that you’re invested in the company and happy to continue working there. Prepare to express appreciation of all of the experience you’ve gained and also to outline how you could apply what you’ve learned in your current position towards a new position. This way, the hiring manager will see not only that you are eager to advance your career but that you have thought through exactly what would make you capable of doing so,” said Joaquín Roca, Co-Founder & CEO of Minerva

Be Professional and Don’t Get Too Comfortable

At the end of the day, it’s still a job interview. Even if you know the people you’re interviewing with and even if you feel comfortable, you should still treat the interview with the utmost professionalism. “Even though you are interviewing with people you likely know, it’s important to maintain professionalism and treat it with just the same importance as an interview at a new company. It should be treated formally, and you want your interviewers to take you seriously,” said Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Nailboo.

Sometimes internal interviews can be formalities, but a lot of times this is an internal applicant’s biggest mistake. “There’s nothing that gets you out of the running faster than showing up to your interview with the attitude that you’ve already gotten the job,” said Dan Lewis of Convoy. “Don’t get me wrong, confidence is great and you should have the fullest confidence in your ability to execute the job. But understand that you are not the only applicant, and not the only person with the same skills. Be humble, dress professionally and be prepared to show your most professional side in an internal interview.” 

Interviewing for a promotion inside your organization can be both exciting and scary. No one likes the feeling of rejection, and if you don’t end up landing the job you will need to be prepared to deal with your feelings around it. Remember that sometimes, not landing a promotion just means it may not be the right time. There’s no reason to give up or stop looking for ways you can move up in the company. In fact, not landing a job is a great learning experience to reflect on for your future interviews! 

If you do secure your promotion, be ready to step up to the plate by taking on new responsibilities and easing into your new role. Taking on new responsibilities can also be both exciting and scary, so make sure you maintain good relationships with your company members so you have plenty of support and opportunities to learn from those around you.