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What is one interview question to consider asking an internal candidate? Why?

To help you interview an internal candidate, we asked human resource specialists and business managers this question for their best interview questions. From uncovering unknown skills to evaluating a candidate’s progress within the company, there are several helpful insights that may help you hire the right internal candidate for your current opening. 

Here are seven effective interview questions to ask an internal candidate: 

  • Consider Ways to Improve Practices
  • Review Their Current Skill Set
  • Assess the Challenges of the Role
  • Uncover Something New
  • Demonstrate Continued Development
  • Evaluate Their Progress in the Company
  • Measure Potential Growth

Consider Ways to Improve Practices

A question I would recommend asking internal candidates is, “If you were hired for this position, what would you do differently?” Since the candidate is already familiar with your company and its internal processes, chances are they already have great ideas on how to improve the process. If they do not, it goes to show how passionate they are about making this move and what they have to offer.

Jeanne Kolpek, Cadence Education

Review Their Current Skill Set

The best interview question to ask an internal candidate is how the skills in their current position would help them achieve success in their new position? The goal of internal hiring should be to boost morale and increase employee retention by allowing people to grow and move up in the company. Employees should feel that they are developing skills in each role in order to better prepare them for more and more responsibilities. If a candidate doesn’t feel like they have yet developed the skills to excel in a different position, then the hiring manager should reevaluate. 

Ryan Nouis, TruPath

Assess the Challenges of the Role

When interviewing internal candidates, I tend to ask questions about what they already know about the role they are interviewing for. For example, have they done the research and talked with others about the highs and lows of that new position? One question that helps me gauge their research is, “what are the biggest challenges you see of the role and for yourself?” The answer and the candidate’s thought process is one way to see how deeply they thought about actually being in the role or merely wanting their next new position. 

Jenn Christie, Markitors

Uncover Something New

For an internal candidate, it’s very easy for recruiters to get into the mindset of “we already know everything about them. They’ve been with us!” So this question is a great way to uncover anything that they may not have known outside of performance reviews. From the candidate’s perspective, this is a chance for them to demonstrate their contribution to their organization so far and let the recruitment team know how they’ll improve in this position.

Clair Kim, Allenials at Work

Demonstrate Continued Development

External candidates sometimes have an unwritten advantage in the hiring process if the organization values fresh perspectives over internal processes. But new ideas don’t always come from outside. When an employee can demonstrate year-over-year skill growth, it is a clear indicator that they will continue to evolve, adding exponential value to the company. Years of experience are not nearly as important as the amount of learning in a given time frame.

Tim Toterhi, Plotline Leadership

Evaluate Their Progress in the Company 

I like to ask, “What do you think are the areas you have grown in the most during your tenure at our company? Which areas do you think you still have an opportunity to improve?” I ask this question to get a good understanding of how they have progressed within the company so far and to better understand where they still need to grow. Doing this allows the interviewer to compare the candidate’s responses to what their manager or supervisor says. Lastly, this question can also give insight into how the company is helping its employees grow and develop.

Robert Lewis, TechnologyAdvice

Measure Growth Potential

A very important question to ask an internal candidate is: “What has been your greatest lesson so far with our company, and how will you put it into action in your new role?” The reason we would ask such a question is to evaluate the candidate’s ability to learn from mistakes and apply them in their role to produce better, more efficient results. This also “confirms” their ability to grow and move on and therefore be a potential candidate for a promotion.

Robert Spatariou,

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