24 Internal Interview Questions to Ask Candidates • Toggl Hire
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24 Internal Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Post Author - Mile Živković Mile Živković Last Updated:

What if we told you that there’s a way to reduce your hiring costs and expedite the time to hire, all while lowering your turnover rate? The answer may even be staring at you right now if you work in an office.

Of course, we’re talking about hiring internally. Dipping into your existing talent pool can help uncover great candidates quickly and at lower costs. However, there are some challenges. Interviewing people from your organization is vastly different from interviewing candidates who apply for your open roles.

So, you’ll want to ensure you’re prepared with the right internal candidate strategy. We’re about to give you just that (and go a step further by giving you 24 of our very best internal interview questions to ask!).

TL;DR — Key Takeaways

  • Hiring internally results in higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and decreased hiring costs.

  • To assess your internal candidates, ask them questions about communication, collaboration, leadership, and time management.

  • When interviewing candidates internally, be fair and unbiased, highlight their past achievements, understand their motivation for moving to a different role, and discuss their transition plan for moving into that role.

  • Treat the internal hiring process as you would your external hires, and start with a skills test. Explore Toggl Hire’s library of skills assessments, crafted by experts for a wide range of roles.

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Why you should interview internal candidates

Internal recruitment has many benefits for employers. For starters, it eliminates many of the obstacles in the traditional hiring process, which is typically long, costly, and complex. Additionally, hiring existing talent means rewarding great performers and encouraging them to grow even further.

Other reasons to hire internally include:

Improved job satisfaction: When you hire within your organization, you’re sending employees a message that you value their work and want to invest in their future as a part of your team.

Talent retention: Employee turnover can cost you up to 33% of an employee’s annual salary. When your team hires internally, it shows candidates there is a clear path to progression, meaning they won’t be applying to other jobs just to get an eventual raise or learn new, more advanced skills.

Lower hiring costs: Internal candidates don’t incur the same sourcing, recruiting, and onboarding costs as external ones do. You don’t have to pay for job boards, background checks, extensive interviews, and many other small tasks or tools that add up to huge hiring costs.

Benefits of Hiring Internal Talent

Internal interview questions to ask candidates about communication

Just because you already know the candidate doesn’t mean you don’t have to (or shouldn’t) still interview them. And when you do, you’ll want to use more strategic internal interview questions that differ slightly from those you’d use to interview external candidates.

Assessing communication skills for internal hires, for example, lets you assess the potential team dynamics if the person gets hired and joins a new team or department. You can also get a grasp on their leadership potential and determine how easy it would be to transfer knowledge in their new role. If the new role involves facing clients or important stakeholders, communication is going to be a pivotal skill.

Here are some strategic interview questions you can ask:

  1. Describe a situation where you had to explain complex information to a non-technical audience. How did you do it, and what was the final product?

  2. Tell me about a situation when you had to deliver difficult news or feedback to a coworker. How did you approach this situation?

  3. Tell me about a situation where you had to resolve a conflict between two team members. How did you go about finding the best solution for everyone?

  4. When working on a team project, how do you ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and considered?

  5. Tell me about a situation when you had to communicate with a difficult stakeholder, be it a team member or a customer. What did it look like, and how did you handle it?

  6. Active listening is a major part of communication in the workplace. How do you prioritize actively listening to your team?

Great communicators express themselves clearly and listen to others, adapting their communication style based on their audience and situation.

Internal interview questions to ask candidates about collaboration

Asking questions about collaboration is a must because the employee should be ready and willing to work as a part of a team to be most productive in their new role.

You likely already know how they perform as part of their existing team (a huge advantage they have over an external hire), but by asking the right questions, you get to find out things like if they can work across new functions and roles, resolve conflicts, or engage other employees.

  1. Give me an example of a situation where you successfully collaborated with coworkers from different departments. What was the end result?

  2. Tell me about a situation when different team members had conflicting priorities and perspectives. How did you ensure that the work was delivered and that everyone was satisfied in the end?

  3. How do you make sure that everyone feels valued and included in the decision-making process in your team?

  4. Can you give me an example of when you had to negotiate or make compromises for the sake of reaching a goal in your team?

  5. If you ever had to step into a leadership role and get your team members to collaborate and work together on a common goal, how did you do it?

  6. In a remote setting, what is a good way to foster collaboration between team members and departments?

Great employees will know how to prioritize bigger business goals and motivate their team members to work together on achieving them. Behavioral interview questions are of massive help here.

behavioral vs. situational questions
Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

Effective team communication and collaboration go hand-in-hand. In order to foster stronger ties within your organization, consider these 10 Ways to Improve Team Communication.

Internal interview questions to ask candidates about leadership

Assessing leadership skills is crucial for succession planning and for cases where the potential hire has to step into management roles in the future. Assess these skills before moving the internal hire into a new role to determine if they can help develop skills in teammates they would manage.

Additionally, asking leadership-focused questions allows you to see if the hire can improve the performance of their team in the future.

  1. Can you give me an example of when you had to guide a coworker in overcoming a professional goal at work or learning a new skill? What was the outcome?

  2. Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision for your team. How did the decision-making process look like and what factors did you consider?

  3. As a leader, how do you motivate your team members to perform at their best?

  4. Give me an example of a project where you successfully delegated tasks to your team members and empowered them to work independently.

  5. Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict or a difficult situation in your team. What strategies did you use to get to a peaceful resolution?

  6. Describe a situation where you had to lead by example and show integrity and ethical behavior to your team.

Great leaders will know how to deliver great performance without sacrificing team dynamics and causing additional conflict.

How to assess leadership and management skills

Internal interview questions to ask candidates about time management

Employees who manage their time well contribute to the overall productivity and efficiency of their team. They can optimize their existing resources well, adapt to changing priorities, and reduce stress for their entire team while meeting deadlines and deliverables.

  1. How do you prioritize your tasks and deadlines to make sure that the most important work is delivered on time?

  2. Tell me about a situation when you had to deal with multiple deadlines at the same time. How did you handle the situation and meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of your work?

  3. How do you deal with interruptions in your day-to-day work and ensure that they don’t disrupt your workflow and cause you to miss deadlines?

  4. Tell me about a time when you completed a project ahead of schedule. How did you speed up the project timeline, and what did you learn from this situation?

  5. What is your process for setting realistic goals and timelines for your projects?

  6. To meet deadlines, you sometimes have to delegate tasks to other team members to free up time. How do you choose what to delegate, and how do you check if the team members finish their work on time?

A great hire will know how to effectively manage their own time and the time of their employees and juggle multiple deadlines without sacrificing the quality of work.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

While leaders often possess great time management skills, even the best employees need the right tools to help them work more efficiently. For all your time tracking needs, try Toggl Track.

6 tips for the hiring manager interviewing internal candidates

By paying careful attention to how you conduct your internal interviews, you can encourage your team to stay long-term, which should, in turn, improve performance, reduce costs, and help create a happier workforce.

In addition to what you ask, though, it’s also important to remain as unbiased and thorough as possible when interviewing external candidates. Here are some extra points to keep in mind:

  1. Be fair: You may already know the candidate from the context of their existing role. This results in preconceived notions about their skills and experience. To treat them objectively, ensure each candidate goes through the same set of questions as outlined in your interview guide. Also, use skills tests as an objective, quantified measurement of their capabilities.

  2. Highlight past achievements and future potential: Review what the employee has done in the company so far and put a spotlight on their biggest wins. Use this opportunity to shed light on how they could grow in the future and develop in their new role if they were to get it.

  3. Understand their motivation: Review why the candidate is interested in moving to a new role. Do they want to advance their career, learn new skills, or seek a place that is a better fit for their aspirations?

  4. Discuss their transition plan: Talk with candidates about the situation if they were hired. How would they transition from their existing to a new role? What would it look like, and what would they need from the company to get started?

  5. Treat internal candidates with the same level of respect as external candidates: Keep them up to date about their application, and if you turn them down, explain why and give constructive feedback. Tell them the exact reasons why their skills were not a good match for the role, and elaborate on why they should stay in their existing role.

  6. When rejecting, do it gracefully: Offer personalized feedback to each internal candidate (and any external candidates, too!) so that the decision doesn’t backfire and result in the employee leaving the company entirely.

Top tips to enlarge those brains Top tip:

To help ensure a fair internal hiring process, use an interview scorecard — a rating system that will help you score a candidate on how well they match a particular set of criteria for a role. Each person conducting the interview completes the same hiring scorecard by rating the candidate’s hard and soft skills listed as categories on the card.

🔥 Don’t want to build your candidate scorecard from scratch? Download our FREE scorecard template for interviews.

Candidate scorecard for interviewing

Assess internal candidates with Toggl Hire

Hiring internally can save time and money and strengthen your team. The hiring and interview process may be slightly different compared to working with external candidates, but our questions will help you successfully navigate interviews for any position.

Don’t forget: when hiring internal candidates for new roles, you need to assess their hard and soft skills objectively — and we can help with that. When you sign up for Toggl Hire, you get access to a large library filled with expert-created questions you can use to test your candidates or grab for your interviews.

Sign up for your free Toggl Hire account today!

Mile Živković

Mile is a B2B content marketer specializing in HR, martech and data analytics. Ask him about thoughts on reducing hiring bias, the role of AI in modern recruitment, or how to immediately spot red flags in a job ad.

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