How to Conduct an Internal Interview

Internal candidate interviews can provide valuable insights into someone 'you think you know'

Whether you've worked with a candidate closely or you simply 'know of' them, it's important not to skimp on the internal interview process, writes blogger Amy Gallo.

"Assuming you know all the candidate's skills, capabilities and potential is dangerous," she writes.

"Many hiring managers find out little additional information about an internal candidate during an interview; they don't get to the right level of detail to make their questions meaningful and they rely too much on subjective, non-criteria based judgment."

An internal candidate interview requires a disciplined approach and should focus on obtaining new information, not reinforcing known information or perceptions.

Ms Gallo poses the following considerations for worthwhile and insightful internal interviews:

If you aren't serious about the candidate, don't bother
Too often internal interviews are done out of courtesy or because of protocol. If the applicant is not a true candidate for the job, do not interview them. It is important to treat the interviewee with respect, which includes not leading them on and being honest about their suitability for a job.

Maintain a high bar
Internal candidates should be able to provide answers that demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the company, its culture and the new role.

Assess role readiness
Rather than asking questions about current performance, which you may already know a great deal about, focus on the future. Ask behavioural or competency-based questions that get at the candidate's motivations, such as, "What will you need to get up to speed in this role?" or "Please explain what your plans for the first 90 days in this role would be?"

Simulate work experience
If you are unable to put the candidate in the role for a day, consider asking them to complete sample work prior to interview or do a role play of an interaction with a customer or team member.

Ms Gallo offers a list of do's and don'ts as principles to remember:


  • Ask about the candidate's plans for the role
  • Use behavioural or competency based questions to better understand the candidate's motivations
  • Simulate work experience through role plays or sample work assignments


  • Interview an internal candidate out of courtesy
  • Assume you know everything there is to know about the candidate
  • Ask questions you already know the answer to

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