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Are internal candidates a safer bet than external candidates?

Advice | Training | HR | Hiring decisions

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When you need to recruit for a vacancy in your firm, you’re faced with two choices: hiring externally or promoting internally.

Your decision will be based on a number of factors - time constraints, quality of candidates, and level of responsibility, among others. This is why it’s important to establish what it is you’re looking for in a new hire. When hiring is simplified, you’re allowed to focus on choosing the best candidate.

Decide what to prioritise

Deciding what’s most important to your company is the first step in establishing whether you should be focusing on an internal or an external candidate. For example, if you’re looking to boost innovation and creative thinking, some fresh ideas from someone outside the company can contribute significantly to this.

Hiring external or internal candidates both have their advantages and disadvantages so it’s important to establish what is most important to your business when recruiting.

In contrast, if you’re more focused on stability and maintaining a certain level of production, someone who knows the business and its plans is potentially best placed to ensure security.

Evaluate a wide pool of candidates

One of the most important things to do in recruitment is to make sure you’re seeing enough candidates to make an informed decision about who to appoint to the position. This involves meeting with internal and external applicants to evaluate who might have the most appropriate skillset and level of experience.

It’s important not to discount anyone based on the fact they come from outside - or inside - the organisation. You could be eliminating top talent by doing so.

Managing cultural fit

One of the safest aspects of promoting an internal candidate over someone from outside your organisation is the fact that the former already fits into the culture. You know that there won’t be any issues in adjusting to the way the company operates and how colleagues work together.

If you’re considering an external candidate who has all the right qualifications, you’ll have to ensure that you’re hiring with culture fit in mind. Tailoring specific interview questions and potentially exploring their social networking accounts could give an insight into whether a candidate will fit in at your firm.

Consider training

Although an existing member of staff may be a safe pair of hands to transfer new responsibilities to - given they know the business already - there is the chance that you’ll have to invest time and money into training them up for the role.

If this is not going to be viable, it would make sense to look for someone who already has the skills and knowledge necessary to take on the position. In this situation, this would likely be an external candidate.

Establish urgency

How quickly you will need a position filled will also have a bearing on whether you should focus internally or externally. If you can’t afford any period during which it will be vacant, then an internal candidate will likely be best placed to step into the role and avoid any potential ‘downtime’.

If time is not such a pressing issue, however, you will be able to explore the wider talent pool present outside of the organisation and leverage the skills that these candidates have to offer.


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 31st August 2017

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