HR Management··9 min read

30+ Internal Interview Questions To Find Top Talent

39 Essential And Effective Internal Interview Questions

Did you know that hiring an employee can take up to 40% of their annual salary? With so much money spent on job ads on job boards, screening, and other various processes, hiring a new candidate can be very expensive. 

Luckily, there is a great solution: hiring internally. By promoting or moving your team members laterally, you can shorten the onboarding time, increase the new hire’s productivity and save boatloads of cash.

But to make that hire, you first need to do your due diligence. The starting point? Great internal interview questions.

30+ essential internal interview questions to ask

So which questions should you ask during an internal interview? Generally, it's better to organize the questions around different key areas since this makes it easier to evaluate the entire interview.

For starters, you can ask general interview questions, questions about past performance, questions about the new role, and questions about the company. These internal job interview questions are designed to help hiring managers make an educated decision about a new hire.

Let’s get started!

General interview questions to ask

When conducting interviews, you can start with general questions, which you can expect to ask any candidate, whether internal or external. For instance, when asking internal auditor interview questions you should include questions such as, "Why are internal audits necessary?"

Here are ten general questions to ask to help you get the ball rolling on your internal interviews.

  • Can you tell us about yourself? - There's always something you don't know about an internal candidate, and asking questions is a way of introducing the candidate to everyone else.

  • Why should we hire you? - Typically, when an internal candidate applies for a different role, they should feel confident enough to fill that role, as evidenced by the answer they give.

  • What is your greatest strength/biggest weakness? - These two questions check whether the candidate is self-aware about what they bring to the table. Double-check their answer with their current manager.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? - To promote employee retention, it's best to go with a candidate whose career goals align with the company's long-term objectives.

  • What is your preferred working style? - Even if the candidate is internal, it's still a good idea to confirm that they will be a good fit for the company's culture in their new role.

  • What is your dream job? - It's normal for candidates to provide answers they have already practiced. However, if the candidate truly believes they are applying for their dream job, their passion will be evident, and this will translate into better job performance, especially if moving up to a managerial role.

  • Do you prefer to work under supervision, or do you need more freedom when completing a given task? - The right answer depends on the level of autonomy that comes with the job. You can find out if the employee has the right leadership skills with this question.

  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team? - A strong candidate should generally be able to get along with others. Your current employees can attest if their answer was true or not.

  • What is your management style? - This will help you assess if the internal applicants have the right management style to suit the company's culture.

  • What are your expectations for this role? - Overall, this helps you know if the candidate is on the same page based on your expectations of them.

Besides asking general internal job interview questions, internal interviews also require that you ask about past performance and the existing role. In most instances, employees will be applying for a different role that's a step up from their current role, so you'll need to ask them internal promotion interview questions. At this point, questions are completely different from those for external applicants.

  • Why do you want to get promoted? - This will help you uncover the employee's motivations, which should not only be monetary.

  • What don't you like about your current position? - This will let you know if the candidate will be a good fit based on what they like and don't like.

  • What was your biggest accomplishment in your current role? - An employee that has accomplished a lot will likely accomplish more when promoted and they’re looking at a great career path in the future.

  • What are the biggest challenges you faced in your current role, and how did you overcome them? - Since the new role comes with challenges, it's important to know that the employee can handle challenges in the right way.

  • Would your current team or manager recommend you for this position? - If the candidate was a team player and had good relationships with those around them, they shouldn't have a problem getting the vote of confidence they need.

  • How have you contributed to the company's goals in the past? - This is a way of knowing more about what the employee can achieve in their new role.

  • How have you grown in your current role? - The company needs employees that grow with the company and make an effort to improve their qualifications and capabilities. In essence, someone with a growth mindset looking to move into a leadership position in the future.

  • Which areas would you like to improve on if you get the job? - A strong applicant should plan to continue improving and adding even more value to the company compared to their previous role

  • How much experience did you gain in your current role? - Even if they're looking forward to changing positions, the ideal candidate should have gained some value from their current position.

  • How well would you rate your current performance? - Regardless of their position, an employee should always be proud and confident about their performance.

It's recommended to ask questions about the new job as well in this part of the recruitment process. For instance, when asking internal auditing interview questions, it's important to check if the candidate knows what it takes to fill the role adequately. Here are some sample questions to help you get started.

  • What do you know about the position you applied for? - The answer will tell you how well the person prepared for the interview.

  • Do you have any experience with this new position? - This will shed more light on whether the candidate is a good fit.

  • Are you familiar with the department you'll be working in? - Ideally, the candidate should have done enough research about their new role and the department they will be working in.

  • What do you plan to be doing in the first month if you get the position? - It's essential to have an idea of how the employee will transition into their new role.

  • Do you understand the challenges that come with the position? - The candidate should have a comprehensive idea of what it takes to be successful in their new role.

  • How do you plan to relate to your new team? - This tells you how well the candidate will embrace their new role and the people they will work with.

  • What's your approach when managing team members you once worked alongside with? - It can be tricky when an employee gets promoted. So it's good to confirm if they will handle the changes professionally and wisely.

  • How much training do you need to feel comfortable in your new role? - While it's good to provide training, hopefully, the candidate will have enough company experience to adapt quickly to their new role.

  • How long do you need the onboarding process to be? - This will depend on how well the candidate knows the ins and outs of the new department they will be working for.

  • How long do you expect to occupy your new role? - Generally, it's more cost-effective to hire a candidate that plans to stick around.

Questions about the company

It would be best if you also asked internal candidates company-specific questions to see if they're a good fit for the company, overall. Here are some common interview questions you can ask on this topic.

  • What's one thing you love about working for the company? - A satisfied employee will have more positive things to say about the company.

  • What's one thing you would change about this company? - On the other hand, employees should be truthful enough to note areas where the company can improve.

  • Can you describe the current company culture? - This lets you know how things stand from the candidate's perspective.

  • How is this company different from its competitors? - The answer should tell you whether a candidate is happy with their choice of working for your company.

  • What do you think about the company's mission and values? - Internal candidates should be prepared to continue working in line with the company's mission and values.

  • What's your opinion on how this company has changed or evolved in the past years? - Again, this helps you understand the candidate's perspective.

  • Are you familiar with the company's latest initiatives? - This question lets you know how involved the candidate is with the company's operations.

  • How do you think the company can improve the employee experience? - Getting the right answer will help the company improve employee satisfaction and productivity.

  • What do you think the company's management should do to become more effective? - There's always room for improvement, and asking internal candidates helps since their experience is more diverse.

The final word on internal interview questions As you can see, internal interview questions are slightly different from interviews involving external candidates. There's no need to start from scratch in terms of getting to know the candidate. Instead, the interview questions will be more in-depth. This is one of the advantages of interviewing internal candidates instead of external candidates. You can even ask fun internal interview questions to break the ice and create a more friendly environment. For the best results, it's essential to do your research and gather all the information that you already know about the candidate. You can even download an internal interview questions and answers pdf to get a comprehensive idea of what an internal interview involves. At the end of the day, choosing the right internal candidate should not only be influenced by the fact that they are familiar with the organization's processes or have a good relationship with everyone working at the company. Instead, you should dig deep with the right questions to find a candidate who's a good fit for the company and contributes to its growth and expansion. Making the correct evaluation begins with knowing what to ask.

And if you want to make a great internal hire, make sure you’re using Unrubble to track time! They don’t even need to come to the interview, and you can see just how much the potential new internal hire has worked and what they have done for your business.

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Frequently asked questions

Are internal interviews harder? In most cases, they are harder for the employee being interviewed. When hiring for an internal position, the hiring manager will have higher standards because the employee has been in the company for a good bit. For the hiring manager, they could also be harder because the entire hiring process is different and they need to screen and interview the candidates from a different standpoint and avoid common questions that are used with external candidates.

How should candidates prepare for an internal interview? The best advice is counter-intuitive. Tell your candidates to prepare in the same way they would for a job at another company. In other words, they should expect a typical interview process and be questioned about their soft skills, leadership style, communication skills, previous challenging projects, and more.

How long should an internal interview take? In most cases, it should be similar to an external interview, so 30 minutes to an hour is what you should expect. With internal hiring, the interview could take slightly longer because there is a tangible previous experience to discuss.

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