Have you ever interviewed an internal candidate who wasn’t qualified for the job? How did that work out for you?
My guess if you’re still reading this article is that it probably didn’t turn out so well. It’s also probably safe to say that you did it with the best of intentions and are part of a company committed to promoting from within. Right?
Don’t confuse a commitment to employee growth and promoting from within with setting up an employee to fail.
When deciding whether to interview an internal candidate, there are no hard and fast rules, but here are a few things to consider.
- Do you have a practice of promoting from within?
- Do you have a formal succession planning policy?
- Do your hiring managers know your policy on interviewing qualified candidates?
Becoming solid on your hiring practice will eliminate any awkward or potentially discriminatory conversations with unqualified candidates, both internal or external.
How you handle an unqualified internal candidate tells a great deal about your company. I have seen it handled three ways: 1) interview, 2) don’t interview, or 3) ignore. Let’s play each out:
- Interview. If you choose to interview, be sure you understand the risk. An employee who is interviewed for a job believes, rightly so, that they have a fair chance at actually getting the job. If you move forward with the interview and have no intention of hiring them, trust me, they will know. The result is often a now-disengaged employee who feels deceived and mocked.
- Don’t interview. In my opinion, this is the best option, but with a huge caveat: The conversation you have with the employee is paramount. Don’t just send an email stating that they won’t be interviewed. Explain why. Go over the details of the job and which qualifications they are missing. Talk about future goals and how they might be achieved. Maybe you are willing to provide training or on-the-job experience to help get them to the next opportunity.
- Ignore. Horrible, right? It happens — a lot. Non-qualified employees apply for a job and because the supervisor doesn’t want to have the awkward conversation, they simply get ignored. Other candidates are interviewed and ultimately hired, and the internal candidate never hears another word. I’m just going to say it: that’s bad form, folks.
It only takes a few minutes to help an employee see for themselves that they are not qualified, without the feeling of embarrassment or despair. Take time to coach your employees and better understand their future goals. Look for ways to help them achieve their goals and be ready for the next opportunity.