Top 30 Questions to Ask Internal Candidates for an Effective Interview
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There is no doubt that companies invest in modern technologies and industrial automation that allow them to excel and beat the market competition. However, companies also have to focus on how they can acquire the best talent that can help them to be more efficient and productive. 

HR teams in various companies understand the importance of hiring the right talent that can make a difference in the company’s performance. While most HR teams are busy looking for new candidates they also have to pay close attention to internal candidates who can be the right fit for the vacant position.

In simple terms, internal candidates are current employees applying for another internal position within the company. Many companies today prefer to provide opportunities to internal candidates before they go ahead and post job advertisements because it offers them many benefits. 

Hiring internal candidates can reduce the overall time it takes to fill an empty position. Also, scheduling interviews will be much easier. Since internal candidates are current employees you already know enough about them and therefore they might not even need a full interview. 

However, you still need to know what internal interview questions to ask. This would allow you to evaluate them for the currently vacant position and if they are fit for the new role they are applying for. 

Tips for Effectively Interviewing and Hiring Current Employees

Hiring current employees is surely easier than interviewing external candidates. However, as an HR personnel, you need to know how to interview internal candidates to help you fill the empty position within the company. 

Here are 7 tips on how to effectively interview and hire current employees.

#1 Do Your Research

Before you ask internal candidates typical interview questions you need to do your research. This is essential because you want to hire the right person for the right job with the right skills. Even if you know the candidate you must still talk to the candidate’s current manager to know more about their performance, duties, and responsibilities and how they behave and work. The ideal thing to do is to curate questions after finding out more details, this makes you prepared for the interview. 

#2 Don’t Presume

Though it is easy to presume that companies know their employees, while interviewing an internal candidate, you should do no such thing. 

It is always better to keep an open mind and that would allow you to interview and hire current employees the right way. For instance, you might perceive an internal candidate to be an introvert, when in reality he or she might not be. Also, he or she might be passionate about certain job roles which you might not know about. 

#3 Interview Only If Qualified

There are times when internal candidates would apply for an internal position because they want to shift departments. You must evaluate internal candidates and interview only if they are qualified for the job position. This would help you save time and effort. You can politely redirect them toward another job opportunity that fits their profile instead. Keep in mind that most internal candidates will be around in the company even when the empty position is filled. Hence, you need to treat them with respect and honesty.

#4 Set the Bar Higher

It is important to evaluate internal and external candidates fairly and consistently. However, internal candidates have an advantage as they are aware of the company’s values and culture. This gives them an edge over external candidates because they can answer certain company-related common questions with ease. Hence, set the bar a bit higher to ensure that you can sort the best internal candidate for the available job position.  

#5 Ask What You Don’t Know

When you are going for an internal candidate interview, ask behavioral interview questions that would tell you more about the person. This will provide you with more insights into how the candidate will handle daily duties. It also makes the most of your time because you learn more about that employee.

#6 Take into Account their Attitude

Most external candidates would display a sense of professionalism and positivity in their actions and body language. Internal candidates, on the other hand, are well-aware of the company culture and therefore are more comfortable and at ease. When you are asking internal candidate interview questions you must also take note of the answers they provide. You can tell a lot about their taken-for-granted attitude from the responses they offer. 

#7 Focus on their Motivations

Internal candidates have been in the company for quite some time. Hence, they are capable of tackling basic questions about their past and present performance. To hire the right person for the job you need to focus on the future. For this, you need to ask questions that tell you more about their motivations. Find out more about why they are applying for this job position through your interview questions. 

Assessing Past Performance in Internal Candidates Interview

While you are interviewing an internal candidate you need to ask the right internal job interview questions that would help you know more about the candidate’s past performance. 

You can ask them:

Q#1: What do you think are the areas you have grown in the most during your tenure at the company?

Q#2: Which areas do you think you have an opportunity to improve?

Q#3: What were the challenges you faced in performing better?

Q#4: Please tell us more about a project where you took the initiative. What went well and what would you do differently to make it better?

These questions would provide more insight into how an internal candidate has progressed within the company so far. Also, it would help interviewers to know where the candidate needs to improve.

Assessing Behavior in Internal Candidates Interview

Also, when interviewing internal candidates, you need to evaluate their behavior. This is important because different job positions call for different duties and responsibilities and the behavior of the candidate can make a huge difference.

Behavioral assessment can help you examine how a potential candidate goes about their work and achieves their objectives. For this, you need to ask behavioral interview questions for internal candidates. 

To assess behavior in an internal candidate interview, you can ask:

Q#5: Tell us more about an incident when you made a mistake and how you corrected it.

Q#6: Can you work in a high-pressure work environment if you get this job position?

Q#7: What is the key to collaborating successfully with coworkers?

Q#8: How do you handle situations when you miss a deadline?

Q#9: How do you proceed when disagreeing with a colleague?

Q#10: How do you stay motivated when your routine gets monotonous?

Q#11: Tell us more about the proudest moment in your professional career and what made you feel proud.

Q#12: If given an opportunity would you prefer to work in a team or alone?

Assessing Communication in Internal Candidates Interview

Communication skills are important for almost all jobs. Hence, even when interviewing a current employee you need to know how to interview internal candidates based on their communication skills. 

Asking questions to the internal candidate about communication can help you understand how communicative the candidate is.

Q#13: Tell us more about a presentation you made that went well. Why do you think it went well?

Q#14: Do you prefer written or verbal communication?

Q#15: How do you handle or work with colleagues who are sensitive and emotional by nature?

Q#16: How would you react if you misunderstood something on the job?

Q#17: How do you handle your duties when you are working with a difficult colleague?

Q#18: Are you a good listener or a good communicator?

Q#19: What is your communication style?

Additionally, you must also look at the way they answer these questions because it reflects their interpersonal skills which are important for the job. Hence, you need to evaluate their body language and whether they look you in the eye while answering. You must also assess their tone of voice and active listening skills and if their answers were satisfying.

Questions to Understand Inspiration in Internal Candidates Interview

There is no doubt that internal candidates have certain advantages over external candidates. This is because they are aware of the work culture within the company. However, candidates must have the right level of confidence and must be motivated to handle new job positions they are applying for. 

Here are some questions that can help you understand inspiration in internal candidates’ interviews.

Q#20: What was the best job you ever had? Why do you consider it your best job?

Q#21: What responsibilities do you prefer to choose? Why?

Q#22: Was there something you didn’t like about your best job? Why?

Q#23: What job is your least favorite?

Q#24: What work environment do you work best in?

Q#25: Who do you consider your best supervisor or manager in your previous jobs?

Q#26: What qualities do you believe a supervisor/manager must/must not have?

Q#27: What inspires you to keep going daily?

Q#28: How will the new job position help you stay motivated?

Q#29: How do you define success for yourself professionally?

Q#30: Would you be willing to work in a less ideal work environment for more pay, or would you choose an ideal work environment even if the pay is low?


Most companies today provide opportunities to their internal candidates even before they go ahead with posting job information online.

Hence, HR teams and interviewers must be clear about how they can handle the internal candidate interview by asking the right questions.

For this, you need to evaluate internal candidates on different criteria and ensure that they are ideal candidates for the vacant job position. Asking the right questions would be the key to evaluating their behavior, past performance, communication skills, and even their inspiration. 

FAQs on Internal Candidate Interviews 

Is it important to interview an internal candidate first for the vacant position?

Yes. You must give full and fair consideration to current employees and provide them with the opportunity to grow within your organization. 

What if I know an internal candidate personally? Should I still interview him/her?

Yes. Although you may know the person on a personal level, you need to interview the candidate to ensure that they are the right fit for the job. Also, you want to be fair with other employees in the organization applying for the vacant job position. 

Why do most companies overlook internal candidates?

Generally, this is because hiring managers feel that internal candidates don’t have the right skills needed for the empty job position. Also, they might be looking for a fresh candidate that can bring more skills to the job than the current one had.

Can excessive internal recruitment lead to resentment within the company?

Unsuccessful internal candidates might be unhappy with not being able to clear the interview and that can lead to negativity within the company work environment.

Can internal recruitment enhance your business work environment?

Yes. Hiring internal candidates for an empty job position can promote loyalty and boost employee morale and serves as a reminder for all employees to work hard and reap benefits.

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