The ABCs of Beating An Internal Candidate

Okay, admittedly this is tough to do. The likelihood of getting selected over a pre-identified internal candidate is slim, but there are still a few tricks you can have up your sleeve.

It’s unfortunate that many companies require Hiring Managers to interview external candidates even when they’ve already made the decision to extend the offer to someone internal.

While this policy was designed to protect fairness, it actually does the opposite for the poor external candidate who believes he has a shot.

The identified internal candidate is nearly always hired, while excited external applicants get put through the “interviewing ringer,” only to be told they didn’t get the job. It’s confusing and demoralizing for qualified job seekers, who likely don’t even know they never had a chance.

While unfair, it IS reality. So, here are the ABCs to success if you’re in a job search competing with an internal candidate:

  • ASK: The interview is a two-way dialogue. When wrapping up a positive interview and inquiring about next steps, politely ask whether you are competing with internal candidates. While knowing won’t necessarily make a difference in your candidacy, you’ll at least understand your chances.
  • BECOME: Many times, the internal candidate is a contract employee who has proven herself and is being offered a full-time role. Getting your foot in the door by being open to temporary or “gig” work is a great way to earn money, build contacts, and demonstrate your value so that the next internal candidate hired will be YOU.
  • CREATE: Although you may not get the job you applied for, making a positive impression while interviewing with key stakeholders in a company can open the door to other opportunities.  Impress your interviewers and they may refer you to similar openings in the company. Even better, organizations sometimes create new roles for stellar applicants. Be opportunistic and creative.

If a door closes, hop through the window!

Happy hunting!

1 thought on “The ABCs of Beating An Internal Candidate

  1. S.M. Reply

    I’ve gone through that mess twice. I plan to ask in my next interview if there any internal candidates. I’ll do my best, but if the answer is there are internal candidates, that will help cool my enthusiasm for that job and look elsewhere.

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