Job Search Tips

4 Advantages Internal Candidates Have Over You

Written by Peter Jones

Applying for your dream job? You’ve finally found it, and you’re perfect for it. You fit the qualifications, and then some. This job is absolutely made for you! So, what’s the catch?

There might be internal candidates vying for the same job–and they have a leg up. Here are 4 things internal candidates have going for them that will net them your dream job almost every time, unless you learn how to preempt the situation.

1. They know the company.

Internal candidates, whether they’ve worked at a place for two months or 20 years, know the mission, goals, culture, hierarchy, values, etc. of the company inside and out. They also might have an understanding of the interior politics involved in this particular job opening. You do not.

What you can do is research the company. Do your homework. And make sure that if you get asked in an interview about the company, you’re spouting information off as naturally as if you’d been working there ten years. Act like you already do!

2. The company knows them.

Better the devil you know? Also better the angels. If a company knows an inside candidate can get the job done well, then they’re more likely to hire them again. They also have a good sense of their work ethic, their social skills, their strengths and weaknesses.

What you need to do is articulate your value. Go ahead and be upfront about this—and use it as an asset. After all, not being a known entity has its advantages. Remind them you bring a fresh perspective with you. Don’t be shy to share some of your new ideas in the interview. Show yourself as the most qualified person for the job, and show them they don’t need to worry about your delivering on your promises.

3. Personal relationships are already established.

Internal candidates have a bunch of people on the inside—coworkers, contacts, friends—who are loyal and will vouch for them. That goes a long way. They’ve made inroads, and have developed relationships with their team and other teams that make lots of people in the company comfortable working with them.

Your only shot here is to network. Find an “in” in the company, someone who could refer you or offer a personal recommendation. Or even someone you’ve developed a relationship with who could give you some advice from the inside on how to best prepare your application.

4. They’re already a fit.

You’re still trying to figure out what the company culture is, and the internal candidate is already in it. Unless they’re not doing well or fitting in, they’ve got a huge leg up on you because their bosses will already be comfortable with them, even like them. This might be the number one reason internal candidates win out in the end—they already fit.

The way you prepare can go a long way towards giving the hiring manager the same sense. Do a bit of research to figure out what you can about the company culture, then—particularly if there are values you share—go ahead and emphasize the ways in which you fit. Talk the talk, walk the walk, etc. Show them you’re one of them. Put them at ease. If you can do all that and prove that you’d be an asset to the team, you’ll have a good chance of beating out your competition from within.

About the author

Peter Jones