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Ace Your Internal IT Job Interview: 5 Tips

Think you have an edge over external candidates because you know the company and have powerful references? That line of thinking won't help you land the job.

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IT professionals: Get your resumes ready. According to a new report from, a technology job board that tracks the IT job market, the second half of 2013 is poised to bring you plenty of opportunities.

Dice's 2013 Hiring Survey, which surveyed 1,000 tech-focused hiring managers and recruiters, found that 73% plan to hire more technology professionals during the second half of this year compared to the first six months. That means more opportunities both outside -- and inside -- your organization.

John Reed, senior executive director at IT staffing agency Robert Half International, says that applying for an internal position may be attractive if you want to stay at your company, but are looking for a career jump.

"Individuals typically seek new positions in their own company if it's an opportunity for a promotion, if it's a role that enables them to expand their skill set, or for an opportunity to lead a new initiative for an organization," he said.

[ Here's one place to beef up your resume: Social Business Skills In High Demand. ]

Here are five ways tips for acing an internal IT job interview and landing the job.

1. Don't Assume The Position Is Yours.

You may think you have an edge over external candidates because you're familiar with the company and have powerful references who can attest to your work. But approaching the interview without the same preparation and zeal as you would an external interview puts you at a disadvantage, Reed said.

"The biggest mistake candidates make is walking into the interview feeling entitled," Reed said. "You have to prepare and conduct yourself in a way that demonstrates that you're qualified and capable, and you need to present the facts that support that."

Company politics could also put you at a disadvantage, Reed said.

"The hiring manager might have some political issue with your manager or department and you may be viewed negatively because of this," he said. "Or they may just want a fresh perspective or want to look outside the company for experience they can't find in house. Bottom line is to prepare and never assume you're a shoo-in."

2. Tell Your Manager.

If you're applying for a new position at your company, Reed said that in most cases, it's best to let your manager know.

"Schedule a meeting with your manager so you're not catching him or her off guard," he said. "Make sure you have ample time to discuss why you're interested in this new position and why it's a good career move. And always be appreciative and thankful to your manager for everything they've done for you -- you want them to vouch for your work."

An instance in which you shouldn't tell your manager, Reed said, is if he or she has been abusive or difficult to work with.

"In this case, talking with your manager is going to be difficult. If the reason you're pursuing a new job is because of [your manager], you may want to let your manager's manager know that you want to try a new job and this is why," he said.

3. Prepare.

Approach your internal interview as if you were interviewing with a new company and with the mindset that you need to demonstrate why you're the best candidate, Reed said. This includes updating your resume, gathering information that supports and documents your successes, and preparing questions to ask the interviewer.

"Do your homework: Depending on the size of your company, you may not know the manager. Research him or her, the department, and what types of people work well in that position," Reed said. "Find out who left the position and why, and aim to have a better understanding of it all than when you walked into the meeting."

4. Expect Tough Questions.

Because you're already an employee of the company, you probably won't be asked many of the typical introductory questions, such as what you know about the business. Instead, expect the questions to focus more on your potential value and what new ideas or skills you can bring to the table, Reed said.

"Typically questions are much more in-depth for internal candidates, and you'll be expected to have better, more detail-oriented answers about how you'd approach the new position or a problem," he said.

Expect to answer questions about how you see yourself transitioning outside of your position or department into the new one; what qualities or skills you bring from your prior experience that will help you excel in the new role; and how you'd solve various problems.

5. Own Up To Past Mistakes.

Unlike external candidates, you will already have a reputation going into the interview, Reed said. The hiring manager might be aware of things you did well -- and projects that failed.

"Own up to your past mistakes, and highlight what you've learned from them," he said. "They probably already know about it going in to the interview, so it's best to disarm them by addressing past failures."

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Cara Latham
Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2013 | 5:50:57 PM
re: Ace Your Internal IT Job Interview: 5 Tips
I think number 1 is especially sound advice. While connections certainly help, and while it is nice to see companies promote their valued employees from within, I think any employee would be foolish to feel entitled. Whether an external or internal candidate, I would assume the hiring managers are still going to be considering the best person for the job -- not simply the best connected.
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