How To Ace Your Internal Interview

by Guest Author, Miles Oliver

An internal interview represents a great opportunity to advance your career and increase your earnings. You are already familiar with the firm and have an innate advantage over external applicants.

However, you should not rest on your laurels when going for an internal position. The job market is extremely competitive at the moment and hundreds of job seekers are vying for the same role.

Prepare for an internal interview with as much purpose and intent as you would an external interview. Never assume that you are a shoo-in for the position and do your best to represent your contributions in a positive light.

Leveraging Your Experience

Internal interviews can be more intense than external interviews. The interviewer knows more about your contributions to the company and understands your role and responsibilities. It is your job to show the interviewer that your experience is valuable to the business and has set you up for success in future roles.

Start by researching the hiring manager before your interview. What do they look for in applicants? What is their management style? How can you fill their needs? Answering these questions will help you leverage your experience and craft answers that impress.

Formulate answers to the questions that you expect to receive before you walk into the interview room. Make sure your answers relate to specific achievements and accomplishments during your time at the company and create a short list of answers that prove you’ve added value to the firm.

If you are applying for a position higher on the corporate ladder, use your answers to highlight the experiences that set you up for success in a leadership role. Identify the leadership qualities you exemplify the most and translate these traits into real-life examples. For example, if you have led a cross-departmental project before, focus on your communication skills and highlight times when you clearly and concisely explain problems and solutions to your wider team.

Adding Skills Now

If you have some time to prepare before your interview date, you should add skills and experiences that show off your commitment to growth within the firm.

Look for employee development opportunities in your business. Attend “lunch and learn” sessions and professional training opportunities whenever possible. These development opportunities are a great way to network and will look great when you are faced with questions about career goals. Even if you feel that you do not need further training, enrolling in employee development shows that you are ambitious and have a serious commitment to growth.

Attending employee development programs can be particularly useful if you plan on negotiating your salary. Employers will take your request for more money seriously if you show that you are committed to the business and are keen to grow.

Utilizing Your Network

As an internal applicant, your network is your greatest asset. Folks at the company already know who you are and you can get the inside scoop on hiring managers before you step foot in the interview room.

Speak with your mentor before the day of the interview. Ask them about the hiring manager and get their thoughts on the department you hope to join. Run a few of your stock answers by them and gather their feedback to help strengthen your application.

Use your references to sure-up the weak points in your interview. If, for example, you know that you lack experience in a leadership role, consider using references who can attest to your character and will advocate for your ability as a team member. A great reference can turn the tide of your application and help interviewers see that gaps in your resume are not deal-breakers.

Avoid Assumptions

Many internal applicants mistakenly think that internal interviews are easier than external ones. This common assumption is wildly incorrect and can undermine your overall application.

Internal interviewers do not know about all of your contributions to the business. Some businesses even have strict internal interview processes and are entirely reliant upon you to show yourself in your best light.

Most interviewers are not trying to trip you up. However, you should be prepared to answer questions about work mistakes you have made in the past. If you fail to take internal interview preparations seriously, you may be flustered in a moment where you need to show poise and perspective. Focus on accountability and show that you can learn from previous mistakes and missteps.


Internal interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. You can maximize your chances of landing the job by leveraging your network and preparing great answers based on your previous experience.

Do not assume that the interviewer knows about your prior experience. Instead, work with a trusted mentor to develop answers that sure up your weak points and exemplify your potential and aptitude. If you have a little time before the interview, consider attending career development opportunities that can help you network and build important skills.

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About the author: Miles Oliver is a freelance contributor whose writing focuses on professional development. You can reach him at

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