How To: Prepare for an Internal Job Interview

interview pic

Last week I had an interview for a position in a different department within my company. I had wanted to transfer to the buying department ever since I started at my fashion company. But hey you gotta start somewhere right? I had worked on the Data team in the Production department for close to 10 months. I had always maintained a good relationship with my boss and communicated that I had my eyes on the buying team, where my true passion lies. Being the best boss she is, she put in a good word for me with the main girl on the team (who was leaving soon apparently). I was able to have an informational interview/coffee chat with her even with no known open positions posted. This was a very insightful meeting because I got a good idea of what the team does, what their challenges are, how they work, their team dynamic, and how they functioned within the rest of the company.

A couple weeks after that, I saw the posting for the buying position that I wanted. I jumped on it and quickly emailed HR saying that I’d like to be an internal candidate and that I was super interested! The recruiter said the process would take 2-3 weeks, but then I get an email a week later saying to complete an Excel test and prepare for the interview that was in a couple days. This is why you must always be prepared! Needless to say, I got the job! *insert happy dance* Check out my tips below:

Pre Interview

  1. Meet deadlines for the tasks given (like an Excel test) to show initiative, eagerness, and competency
  2. Research the job and industry
  3. Research typical job interview questions and practice answering them. It helps to write it down for memory. A big one to know how to answer is how your past experiences and responsibilities relate to the job you’re applying for.
  4. Come up with your top 5 strengths and positive qualities about yourself, and a couple weaknesses. You really have to know yourself and what kind of person you are to really nail job interviews.
  5. Dress professionally. My office is casual, but I dressed up a little more fancy to give it that little something extra. Remember, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

the office

During Interview

  1. Introduce yourself if you’re not already fully acquainted. Give a good handshake. No dead fish hands. Seriously though.
  2. Show body language that is active and shows interest. No crossed arms or looking down. My trick is to lean slightly forward. This says, “I’m interested. I want this position.”
  3. Think of your answer before they finish asking the question. This gives you extra time to formulate the best, succinct answer.
  4. Show, don’t tell. By giving examples, you’re visually showing them how you are a certain way. This then allows them to visually imagine you working for them, which is what we want!
  5. If they ask about your weakness, give one but don’t dwell on it for too long. Give them a true but low impact weakness and how you’ve been successfully overcoming it.
  6. When they ask if you have questions for them, NEVER say no. It’s like a death sentence if you say no. Ask them insightful questions that shows you put in thought and research into them.

too awesome

Post Interview

  1. Send thank you emails to all of your interviewers (if you have more than one). Vary the text in each one to show creativity and that you really paid attention in his or her individual interview. Recap what was said and reiterate why you’re the perfect person for the job.
  2. Follow up with HR to see when the decision will be made and if they need anything else like letters of rec.

Overall Tips

-Don’t tell anyone at work except your boss (if you have a good relationship that is) that you’re applying and at the interview stage for another position, so that he/she knows your whereabouts. There’s an open floor plan at my work, so if I leave my desk for a while, I should probably let my boss know since she sits so close to me!

-I know it doesn’t sound good, but you really can’t trust your co-workers fully, especially when careers and $ are at stake. Maybe I’m just paranoid about sabotage or watch way too much reality TV.

-Always stay professional. Don’t spread rumors or gossip. This will most likely not end up in your favor. If you got the job, don’t flaunt it because there might be other internal candidates nearby.

-Internal job interviews can actually be harder than regular interviews. You will already have a reputation and that can work for or against you. Definitely talk about how you improved your current department.

-Stay true to yourself. Be honest if the job is not what you thought. It’s very obvious when your excitement dwindles because you might start rambling and not even know what you’re talking about anymore (true story).

-If it doesn’t work out, at least you’re still employed! #silverlining


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