Applying for a different position with your current employer may be one of the best ways to get a better job. That doesn’t mean it will be a slam dunk though. Among other things, your reputation at work can work for or against you in the interview.
Harvard Business Review offers several pieces of advice for handling an internal interview, which you should prepare for as seriously as if it was an interview at another company. Among the tips, HBR recommends knowing your reputation before you go into the interview:
“The external candidate has the advantage of being a total stranger and starting with a clean sheet,” says [author and career stragtegist John] Lees. You aren’t so lucky. Regardless of your performance record, people in your company may have preconceived ideas about you. “Even a good reputation can act against you,” Lees says. If people think of you as an excellent operations guy, they may have a hard time imagining you as a strategic thinker. Before you start the interview process, make sure you know what others think of you. Ask someone you can trust to be candid — a mentor, an external coach, or someone in a learning-and-development or HR role.
Then be prepared to challenge or reshape others’ opinions. You can say, “In the past people have assumed I didn’t have strategic thinking skills, but let me tell you what I’ve been working on lately.” Of course, you need to do this carefully so you don’t come off as confrontational or defensive. “Don’t insinuate that people don’t understand you or that you haven’t gotten the right opportunities,” says Lees.
It would also be a good idea to go over your previous performance reviews or other work history so you can address any issues from the past:
It’s likely that you’ll have to speak to a few missteps in your past. “This is the hardest territory,” says Lees. “It’s easy to become defensive or make your boss sound like an idiot.” Some mistakes really can’t be explained away in an interview room; if you’re coming off a less than stellar project, you might consider getting a few more positive experiences under your belt before applying for a new role. But if you honestly believe you’re ready for the new job, speak candidly about what went wrong and what you learned from it. Hopefully, the hiring manager will understand.
When you’re applying for another position where people already know you, you have some advantages as well as unique challenges. Hit up the link below for even more internal interview advice.
How to Ace an Internal Interview [Harvard Business Review]