Inside Job? 5 Ways to Objectively Evaluate Internal Candidates

Inside Job? 5 Ways to Objectively Evaluate Internal Candidates

This article was updated on July 23, 2018.

Hiring new talent requires time and effort. As noted by Forbes, businesses now need to consider the impact of their candidate experience on Public Relations and overall brand image, and many organizations could do with a full refresh of job descriptions and expectations. So it's no surprise that many organizations overlook potentially ideal internal candidates — current employees who have proven experience within the organization. But hiring internally isn't as easy as rubber-stamping quality candidates.

Here are five tips to limit potential bias and ensure the best candidate — internal or not — is selected for the job.

1. Go Anonymous

First up? Do what you can to anonymize the process. For example, tech tools exist that allow you to remove potential bias markers such as name or other personal details from resumes in your database, allowing you instead to focus on the skills a given candidate brings to the table. This helps serve strategic aims by removing any existing bias for internal candidates or particular personality traits. If internal candidates can't compete on a level playing field, it's an indication that corporate processes may need a shake-up or that your organization is currently missing critical employee skills. Either way, going anonymous may reveal more than just the best applicant.

2. Post It

Maybe you've already got someone in mind for the job. They meet all the qualifications, have enough experience and are well-liked by the management team. Seems ideal, right? According to HBR, however, manager-sponsored hires are consistently outperformed by employees who compete for the job on internal postings. Here's why — even the best managers can't know everything about every employee. As a result, sponsored opportunities may overlook highly qualified candidates working just outside a manager's inner circle, in turn reducing the strategic impact of internal hiring decisions. Easy fix? Let all employees apply on internal postings and see who rises to the top.

3. Ask Great Questions

What's next on the list? Asking great questions. There are two solid reasons for this. For starters, your internal prospect has already heard the standard questions you ask when they first applied for their job. Second, most of these questions don't tell you much about potential hires.

Instead, try a few like the ones complied by Fast Company that are fun to answer. How would you describe a color — like red or yellow — to someone who's blind? What's the last thing you watched on TV? If a penguin walked through the door in a sombrero right now, what would he say? Or try a brainteaser. Ask them to determine how many pennies would fit in the room, or how much pizza is eaten every year in the U.S. The most important takeaway here? There is no right answer. The idea is to gain insight into candidate thought processes rather than nitpick solutions.

4. Consider the Long-Term

Before rolling out any position for applicants, think about the long term. What happens if a strong inside staffer doesn't get the job because a better-qualified external hire comes along? While the hope is for no hard feelings — and you could certainly make staffing changes if this became a problem — consider the impact on downstream corporate culture. For example, if the position you're filling is a direct step up from that of an internal employee, meaning an outside hire would be their direct manager if they were passed over for the job, you may want to go all-internal or all-outside to eliminate potential friction.

5. Fully Understand the Implications

Last but not least: Understand that if you're successful at recruiting internally, you've got a second position to fill — the former job of that employee. For businesses looking to staff internally, this means it's essential to have a plan in place that covers the gap left by your promoted personnel while you source their replacement.

Internal hiring can offer big benefits when done right. Simplify the process by going anonymous, staying the course, asking great questions and understanding the long-term impact of hiring internally.