Preparing for an Internal Interview

If you’re looking for a different opportunity internally, you will need to prepare for the internal interview just like you would if you were an outside candidate. In many ways, it can be more difficult to prepare for an internal interview because you are working from a set of assumptions that you already know the culture and the work.

Portrait of a female executive
Make sure to prepare for an internal interview as if you were an outside candidate.

Here are some tips to help you understand the hiring process and prepare for the interview.

  1. At MSU, applicants are screened based on the stated minimums. Units will then review candidates based on all of the job factors.
  2. Update your resume for each job.
    1. If your resume has an objective, replace it with a professional summary of skills.
    2. Include actual metrics in your resume. If you state you serve customers, include how many a week/month/year? You must show evidence of your accomplishments.
  3. Prepare early. Ask for advice and attend regular professional development opportunities to keep your skills up.
  4. Do your research. Seek out information on the department: what do they do, who are the key players, what is their role in the University, what research are they doing? A simple web search can yield enough information to ask intelligent questions.
  5. Have questions prepared for the interview. Be honest about what you need out of the job. What is the type of work you most like to do? What is the culture where you will most thrive? Dress professionally. The old adage “dress for the job you want” is a little different these days, but make sure that clothing that is clean, pressed and stain-free.
  6. Don’t assume being an internal candidate is a plus. Remember that many hiring managers are looking for fresh ideas and may want to implement changes. Address these issues through your answers as to why you are the best candidate to implement new ideas.
  7. If you know your interviewer well, do not short cut your answers. You should approach your interview with friendly formalness, but remember that the interviewing team cannot “fill in the blanks.” This is particularly true if there is a panel. You are being compared to other candidates.
  8. Let your boss know. Your supervisor’s support can be a key factor in helping you reach your goals.
  9. Be honest. It’s likely you have made mistakes in the past, who hasn’t? Know your reputation before you interview and address any issues head on with a candid approach. Demonstrate that you’ve learned from these missteps.
  10. Say thank you. Courteous and professional thank you notes are still appreciated. Make sure you have their names spelled correctly! Nothing says “lack of detail” like having a person’s name spelled wrong.

For more information on this topic, visit the MSU HR website.

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