Don’t Let Familiarity Breed False Hope


OnT Familiarity | OnTalent

Whether you are an internal or external candidate, key to the recruitment process are your stories. I have worked with many internal candidates over the years on leadership roles and regularly they have told me that “their history and stories should speak for themselves.” If you take anything away from this article it’s that you should never assume your manager or the hiring manager knows your history and achievements. When you are preparing for a step up opportunity within your current organisation treat the process as though you are an external candidate. Take time to reflect on what your key career achievements are within the business that demonstrate you are the right person for the job. Ensure you are aware of your strengths and areas for development. 

Awareness is a strength in its own right.

Where possible, be able to quantify what you have done in either dollars or percentages. Consider what the business unit, project or situation was like when you began, what you had to do and how you did it and where it was at the end. Stories that demonstrate a change in dollars or percentages are what sell. As you work through this process use the time to update your resume and your LinkedIn. 

Practice telling your stories

In many ways an interview for an internal candidate is more challenging than for an external candidate. These are your work tribe, the people you spend your Monday to Friday with, they may even be the people you regularly socialise with. You therefore need to be very much on your game! Practice, Practice and Practice again telling your stories. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to use your computer, iphone or ipad and film yourself answering questions and telling your stories. Be critical of the content and how you visually present. When in doubt pull in a good friend and ask them to offer input.

  • You should know your stories back to front and be comfortable telling them.
  • 2 minutes is the rule of thumb – You should be able to answer questions within two minutes – a good framework is the STAR format – situation, task, action, result.
  • Have a variety of stories beyond your technical expertise that demonstrate why you are ready to step up – stakeholder engagement/ influencing – internal and external, financial, operations.
  • Reflect on your performance reviews over the last 5 years and how you have responded to, and action-ed, positive criticism.

As an internal candidate you need to be really prepared in order to be able to put your best foot forward. Don’t let familiarity breed false hope. From the application process through to the interview you need to be very prepared and sharp! Prove to the Hiring Manager that you are the best candidate for the role and that the risk of bringing in an external candidate is far greater than the risk of developing you. Fiona Cochran is the Head of Client Services at OnTalent. She supports organisations and individuals to connect with their purpose. OnTalent is a boutique people and organisational performance focused business that specialises in executive recruitment, development, career transition and leadership development throughout Australia. Connect with Fiona Cochran to discuss how we can help you. +61 7 3305 5800

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