Internal Job Interview Questions

Businesswomen talking in office
••• Sam Diephuis / Getty Images

What is it like when you interview for a job at a company you're already working for? The process may vary depending on whether the company is considering only internal candidates, or if external applicants are being interviewed as well.

If there are only internal candidates, the process may be less formal and more like a meeting or a discussion with the hiring manager. You might not even formally need to apply for the job. Otherwise, it may involve a formal application and a formal interview process with the hiring manager, company management, and other employees.

After you apply for a job within your company, the next step is the interview. Some of the interview questions will be similar to any other interview, but some will be specific to your status as a current employee at the company.

Read below for information on the types of questions that might be asked at an internal job interview, sample interview questions, and tips for acing the interview.

Types of Internal Job Interview Questions

Review some of the types of internal job interview questions you may be asked when interviewing for a new job with your current employer.

Common Interview Questions
When you're interviewing for an internal position with your current employer, many of the questions you will be asked are the typical interview questions that all candidates, both internal and external, are expected to answer. Don’t be surprised, for example, if you are asked a common question like, “Why are you right for this job?” Even though the interviewer might know you, she still wants you to convince her that you are right for the job. Examples of common questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you the best person for this position?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Questions About Your Current Job
In addition, when interviewing for an internal position, you will be asked specific questions about why you want to leave your present job. When answering these questions, you want to avoid critiquing your present job or employer. Instead, focus on how the new job is in line with your skill set. Emphasize the value you can bring to that job. Common questions about your present job might include:

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Why do you want to get promoted?
  • Does your manager know you have applied for this job?
  • Would your manager recommend you for this position?
  • What is it like working for your supervisor?
  • If the people who work with you were asked why you should be hired, what would they say?
  • What do you like best about your current position at the company?
  • What don't you like about the job you're in now?
  • What was your biggest success story in XYZ department?
  • What other positions have you held with the company?

    Questions About the New Job
    Expect questions about the new job and the new department as well. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the job and its requirements.

    If you know someone in the department, ask them for an insider’s perspective on what the employers are looking for in an employee.

    This will help you answer questions about the new job, like the ones below:

    • Can you tell me what you know about the position you are being considered for?
    • What do you know about our department?
    • Why should we consider you for this position?
    • Why do you want this job?
    • What kind of challenges are you looking for in this new role?
    • Do you have any prior experience working in this capacity?
    • What do you have that other candidates don’t?
    • How would you spend your first 30 days in this new role? 

    Questions About Your Transition
    The hiring manager might also ask you about how you would handle the transition from your current job to the new one. Be ready to explain how you would make the transition as seamless as possible for yourself, your current boss, and your new boss. Sample questions about your transition include:

    • Does your manager know you have applied for this position?
    • What training will you need to be successful in this position?
    • How would you handle the transition to your new job?
    • How will you handle it if you don't get the job?

    Questions About the Company
    Like most job interview, you might also get questions about the company. This is a chance to show off your insider knowledge of the company. Be ready to prove your knowledge about the inner workings of the company, its competitors, and its latest initiatives. Examples of questions about the company include:

    • You have worked here a long time. How have you seen this company change?
    • What suggestions do you have for helping the company achieve its mission?
    • What do you think this company’s top priorities should be in the coming years?
    • What makes this company stand out from its competitors?

    Tips for Acing an Internal Interview

    Illustration by Cindy Chung. © The Balance, 2018

    Use your insider advantage. Use your knowledge of the company and its employees to your advantage. One way to use your insider advantage is to ask a colleague in that department about the job. Try to get a sense of what the employer is really looking for in job candidates, and emphasize those qualities in your interview.

    Stand out from the competition. Differentiate yourself from the competition when you are competing with external candidates by mentioning and emphasizing your company-specific experience, knowledge, and skills when you answer the interview questions.

    Strike the right tone. If you are friends or colleagues with the interviewer, it is okay to acknowledge this and be friendly towards him or her. However, you still want to be professional in the interview. Dress appropriately, and answer the interview questions as thoroughly as you would in any interview. Be sure to have interview questions for the employer ready as well.

    Do your homework. Remember that external candidates have likely researched the company to prepare for the interview. Even if you have been at the company for a long time, it’s a good idea to review their website and any internal newsletters to find “talking points” about their organizational mission. This way, you can demonstrate that you are savvy to their business and/or production goals.

    Share your achievements. It's also important to give examples of successful accomplishments and projects, how you have helped meet the company's goals, and your achievements in your current position. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that senior management should already know and appreciate your previous contributions. Take this opportunity to remind them of the value you’ve added to their organization, using specific examples of special projects and achievements.

    Follow up appropriately. Like any interview, be sure to follow up with a thank you letter or email. You can use this note as an opportunity to remind them of one or two key points from the interview to highlight why you are an ideal candidate for the job. However, if you see the interview around the office, do not pester her about when you will hear back about the job. Send your note, wait patiently, and follow up again if you do not hear back in a week or two (or by whatever date they told you to expect a response).