Internal Interview Questions: What To Expect and How to Answer

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 10, 2021

Even when applying for a position within a company where you are already employed, you may still undergo the traditional interview process. While there are often differences in the feel of an interview for an internal position as opposed to that of a new company, it’s still important to prepare thoroughly before your interview. The interview allows you to demonstrate your skills and qualifications to directly supplement the positive elements you have already displayed as an employee. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common questions faced in an internal interview, as well as provide sample question/answer scenarios and general tips for creating a positive impression at your internal interview.

Read more: How To Prepare for a Promotion Interview

General internal interview questions

In many ways, an internal interview is not all that different from any other job interview. You should thus prepare for it much like you would any interview, which includes preparing to be faced with many of the general questions you might expect elsewhere. This is especially true in a larger company where your interviewer may not know you or the people and workings of your current department. Some general interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What is your preferred working style?

  • Why are you a strong applicant for this position?

  • What do you hope to be doing in five years? What about in 15?

  • What is your dream job?

  • What are your biggest strengths you can apply to this position?

  • Why are you interested in this position?

  • Do you prefer to work with close oversight or to be assigned a task and given the freedom to complete it as you see fit?

  • Do you prefer working alone or in a team more?

  • What is your management style when leading other employees?

Read more: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

Questions about experience and background

When applying for an internal posting, your current position being at the same company won’t stop the interviewer from asking you about your experience at the present company and where before worked before. Common experience questions include:

  • What first drew you to work for our company?

  • How long have you been in the field?

  • Tell me something your prior employer does that our company does not that you feel would improve our production?

  • How long do you intend to remain in this field?

  • Tell me about a time you faced an unforeseen complication while working at our company and how you solved it.

  • When did you first decide you wanted to work in our industry?

  • Who has been the biggest mentor in your professional career? What was the most important lesson they taught you?

  • What skill did you learn at a job outside of our industry which you were able to apply to your current job?

  • How would your current coworkers describe you?

  • What about your time with the company has prepared you to assume this new position?

Read more: Internal Candidates: How To Stand Out During Your Interview

In-depth internal interview questions

When applying within a company where you already work, you should be prepared to talk about what motivated your change, particularly if the move would not be a promotion. The person questioning you will be aware that you are already familiar with the ins and outs of the company or they may already be aware of interdepartmental differences. Be prepared to answer in-depth questions.

  • Why did you decide to apply for a new position with the company?

  • What experience within our company has prepared you to assume a new role?

  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker at the company? How did you resolve the situation?

  • What would you do to help your replacement should you move on to this position?

  • Should you not be selected for this role, how would it affect your current job?

  • A different individual is hired for the position and two months later you have a disagreement while working on a project with the new hire. How do you resolve the situation?

  • What is your proudest accomplishment with the company and how does it demonstrate your readiness for this new role?

  • Tell me about a time with the company where you received a special commendation for your work.

  • What is the first change you would make to the way this position is currently being carried out, based on your experience at the company?

  • Have you spoken about the position with your current manager? If so, what did they say?

Internal interview questions with sample answers

Practicing your responses to questions is a great way to prepare for an interview. Here are some sample questions from an internal interview along with effective responses:

  • What is the primary skill you will bring to this position to set you apart from other applicants?

  • Do you believe that if a different applicant is selected for the position it will affect your ability to continue in your current role?

  • What would your coworkers say if we asked them about your suitability for this promotion?

  • What part of your current position has led you to seek out a new opportunity?

  • Why should we hire you for this position instead of an outside applicant who does not create a new opening elsewhere in need of filling?

What is the primary skill you will bring to this position to set you apart from other applicants?

For a competitive position, an interviewer will be looking to see how an applicant advocates for themselves. Not only is it important to pick a skill that is integral to the position, but you should also explain your choice in a manner which demonstrates your understanding of the position. Focus on specific duties and how your skill will allow you to fulfill those duties.

Example: “My strong interpersonal skills are crucial to my ability to excel in this management position. I am very good at getting to know others and learning what makes them function at their best. This allows me to tailor my interactions with others working with me in order to inspire the most productivity."

Do you believe that if a different applicant is selected for the position it will affect your ability to continue in your current role?

One concern which employers have when interviewing internally for a position is the potential for hard feelings to hurt company morale. If you intend to continue with the company even if you do not receive the position, it is important to assure the interviewer you would have no problems continuing in your current role. If you intend to leave the company if you do not receive the promotion—and you feel that you are a valued employee—say so, professionally. The risk of losing you altogether could result in additional leverage for your application, although you shouldn't introduce the idea of separation if you aren't seriously considering it.

Example: “Although I am excited at the prospect of this new opportunity, if the company elects to go another way with the hiring then I would accept this fact and perhaps pursue similar opportunities, even if they are elsewhere. I am not applying for the position because I have grown tired of my current role. It is because I have the skills to excel in this new opportunity if given the chance."

What would your coworkers say if we asked them about your suitability for this promotion?

One of the primary advantages for a company when considering an internal hire is the ease with which the hiring manager can speak with those who have worked closely alongside the applicant. When asked about your coworkers’ impressions of you, it’s important to be honest while highlighting positive responses.

Example: “I believe that my coworkers would encourage you to hire me for this position. While they would be sad to see me leave my current role, I work really well with the rest of the team and they all know that I am a dedicated and talented employee who has the skills required to thrive with this new opportunity."

What part of your current position has led you to seek out a new opportunity?

Seeking out a new position poses unique challenges when that position is with your current employer. You should frame your response to highlight your ability to excel beyond your current role without denigrating the position or implying that your current job is beneath you. Instead, find a positive trait from your current job and explain how it inspired you to seek further accomplishment.

Example: “While I love my current job at the company—and as my familiarity with the position has increased—I have grown more efficient and can now accomplish my assigned work in less time without a drop in quality. By seeking out a management position, I can continue to contribute my strong work, while also using the time freed up by my more-efficient methods to mentor others and improve the entire team’s functionality."

Why should we hire you for this position instead of an outside applicant?

Although hiring from within has benefits, it also comes with the drawback of creating a new open position that needs filling. An internal applicant may have to show increased suitability for the role to get the position to accommodate for this additional work. This question is an excellent opportunity for you to pitch your strongest attributes and how they will help the company.

Example: “As an employee in the marketing department for the last six years, there is no other applicant as qualified to assume the position of head of marketing. Not only do I have a proven record of successful campaigns, but I also already have strong relationships with the rest of the marketing department, as well as preexisting relationships with our clients. This will ease the transition and reduce the chances of clients leaving when Mr. Johnson retires.”

Internal interview tips

Interviewing for a position at your current employer puts you in a unique position. It becomes increasingly important to speak about your prior work experience in a positive light. You should also take additional precautions prior to your interview, including talking with your current manager about the opportunity so that they are not surprised should the hiring manager reach out to them to ask about your suitability.

At the end of your interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for the opportunity to continue growing your career with the company. You should also send a thank you letter or email to again show your gratitude. Although it’s often recommended to do this first thing following an outside interview, when applying internally you can wait until the end of the workday to eliminate any concern about spending company time on the thank you letter. You should follow up about the opening when the deadline for the next phase of the hiring process has passed if you have not heard more about your application. If there was no set deadline, one week is an acceptable waiting period to inquire about the status of your application. This follow-up keeps you on the mind of the hiring manager and improves your chances of earning the promotion.

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