Pro’s & Con’s Of Internal Candidates And How To Manage Their Applications

By Aaron Dodd – Director & Talent Practice Leader

Here at Mindset, we provide sourcing and selection services. Our clients usually come to us because they realise their time is better spent growing their businesses, while we can best be of use in making their selections for them.

Enlightened managers recognise that to get the best people for a position they must consider all possible candidates, both internally and external to the company.

Internal candidates can often be the ideal candidate. But they often come with a lot of baggage and may have unreal views of themselves and their capabilities. They are highly valued by our clients in their current positions, yes. But internals can tend to feel entitled to a role.

Mindset usually handles internal candidates by having them apply for the role and then putting them through the same detailed selection methodologies as external candidates. This enables us to make positive, objective recommendations about which candidate is the right person for the job – not just the most convenient.

Common pro’s and con’s of internal candidates

Positives Negatives
Candidates know the culture, products and/or services of the organisation. Meaning fast ramp-up into the role. Can be entrenched in the ways of doing things, and resistant to change. This is especially the case in transformational projects, when new heads with new ideas and ways of doing things are important.
Are well known to the company’s management – “better the devil you know….” Are well known to the company’s management. No one is perfect; if someone has been in a role for a while, their colleagues know their strengths AND weaknesses (which will likely be focused on more).
Can start in the role quickly, does not have to give notice/move cities etc. Leaves another hole to be filled, which may prove to be even harder, especially with the prior occupant still involved.
Often can be less expensive than external. If you are under-paying an employee (compared to market values) then they are readily headhuntable, something becoming increasingly common as the talent shortage bites.
Convenient, easy solution. Convenient does not mean they can do the job!

The above does not mean that internal candidates should be ignored. Far from it! But they should go through the same stringent selection processes to ensure they can deliver the expected results in the role.

How do you prevent good employees from going bad when they don’t get the role?

Good question. How do you manage internal candidates when they’ve been unsuccessful in their application for an advertised position within the organisation? And how do you prevent them from becoming disengaged and a distraction to your business operations?

When managing internal candidates through a recruitment process, it is not uncommon for them to be left with negative feelings if they’ve been unsuccessful. Here at Mindset, we see the following scenarios:

Scenario 1

Internal candidate feels they’ve been overlooked, becomes disengaged and leaves. Especially if they have been led to believe by management that they were being groomed for a position (and haven’t been, or are not yet groomed enough).

Scenario 2

Unsuccessful internal candidate “white ants” a new external appointment, as they know the corporate weak spots and relationships to attack.

Scenario 3

Disengaged internal candidate becomes a disruptive influence on others, especially colleagues who may morally have supported them in their application. It sends a signal to the rest of the employees that is (mis)interpreted as, “the company ignores us, we have no career path, etc.”.

How do you prevent these scenarios?

Mindset puts in place different processes to mitigate these sorts of outcomes.

Most internal candidates will go through a full objective assessment of their suitability for the role.

If they prove unsuccessful, the internal candidate is fully debriefed by a Mindset consultant as to why they didn’t get it. This debrief is usually the start of a coaching program. So Mindset actually works with the candidate over a period of time, addressing identified issues and working with them so the next time a suitable role arises they are better prepared.

Debriefing in this way provides relevant information to the candidate (rather than “sorry, we’ve given it to someone else”). It also provides them with a positive message and support that will hopefully minimise potential disengagement.

But most importantly: the company’s management MUST support the new appointment if they are external.

Similarly, if an internal appointment is made, they must be supported through the transition into their new role, especially if they are managing former colleagues. Mindset’s coaching programs can also assist with this scenario.

I hope this helps to empower you in your hiring decisions. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below. Of course, if you’d like further help or information, just give us a call.

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