I keep losing out to internal candidates

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I have been doing a lot of interviews lately and for whatever reason seem to not be getting very far because almost all the positions were filled internally. When I ask for feedback, I am told that I interview well and that they just needed someone with more experience internally.

My question is why do companies interview external applicants and lead candidates on when they know they will be making decisions internally?

To read the answer, click here: I keep losing out to internal candidates

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5 thoughts on “I keep losing out to internal candidates

  1. Hiring is more of a fight, battle and war than ever before. The simple answer is that if you don’t bring them a clear differentiation that your value is greater than, not only internal but, all candidates, you will lose. Be bold, be aggressive, be compelling. How bad do you want it?

    Against “internal” candidates? Yep, they are less labor intensive to put in the job so that is going against you from word one. People always take the path of least resistance if they can make the rationalization that the internal candidate is “close enough”. Not fair, but it is human nature and as long as you are dealing with humans……..well.

  2. Unfortunately, JC, “bold” and “aggressive” tend to be real turnoffs for interviewers. If you’re bold and aggressive in the interview, how will you be as an employee? Managers don’t want bold and aggressive employees.

  3. Having worked for a company like this . . . it’s because the company’s HR department requires them to post all job openings for everyone to apply to, even if they’ve only created the job so they can move an existing person into it (promoting, transferring between groups, etc). Our managers would frequently take the resume of the employee they wanted and use that when posting the job.

    The managers and employees all hate it, but have to do it because it’s corporate policy. The internal person being “hired” is either already doing the job, or is moving back to a group/project they worked on in the past. There’s no way a manager is going to turn down a good employee who they’ve already got working for them or have worked with in the past, and can come in and start performing on day one.

    When I had to apply for one of these, I was extremely tempted to make my official cover letter in the system “Hi Claire! I can haz job?”. I probably would have gotten hired with that too – I’d worked on the project in question for the previous 5 years, getting the top performance rating each year, and was one of two people who actually knew how the entire system was configured.

  4. The other thing that may be going on is if the company has union employees. In our company we have two unions and when a position becomes available we must post it for any candidate to see but I never know in advance if a current employee is going to apply. If they do, they get the position, period. It’s part of our union contract to award based on seniority. So sometimes outside applicants can’t know all of the criteria involved in awarding positions.

  5. There is one more angle to this. Sometimes organizations explore outside so that they understand the skill gap and plus what is the market like. They can then plan and devise their internal training and development plans so that they are able to upgarde their people internally.

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