4 Key Guidelines To Hiring Internally


Sometimes, the dream candidate is not as far off or unattainable as you might fear. Sometimes, they’re already right under your nose. Don’t be too quick, though. Hiring internally comes with its challenges along with benefits. 

Here are four key guidelines to remember the next time you consider a candidate from inside your organization.

1. This is not a community decision.

The only thing worse than having too many cooks in the kitchen is too many opinions about an internal hire. The easiest way to respect both your employee-turned-candidate and your standards is to keep the process private until a decision is made. Put your staff on a need-to-know basis. 

The moment you open the floor for everyone’s opinion on whether or not they think this co-worker is the best fit for the job is the moment you allow disgruntlement and disappointment that breeds division come decision time. Inviting criticism like this may crack the lens your staff views this candidate through. Gossip and carelessness can seep in as opinions are shared behind closed doors. 

This does not mean that you should start sneaking around like you’re keeping a secret. It simply means that you are responsible for a level of professionalism in order to serve your team well.

Yes, seeking wisdom and insight from key players is vital. And no, you should not make this decision alone (more on that later). But let’s be critical of who needs to be involved and whose expertise is most helpful during this time. Regardless of the outcome, your candidate is still ultimately employed on your team — your job is to maintain this candidate’s honor and credibility. After all, you’re probably considering them for the job because they already serve your team so well. Your thoughtful confidentiality will equip them for leadership wherever they end up.

2. Involve the experts.

Your primary expert resource here is whoever knows your candidate best. Your candidate is making a decision here, too. Your candidate’s family will want to be well-informed about the new role and whether or not it is a smart move for them. They need to be specifically praying and considering this as intentionally as you do. Your candidate’s family is the primary support for this whole process. More often than not, it’s family support that will provide your employee candidate peace to confidently make the final decision. 

You have a plethora of third-party experts who should be able to provide a unique perspective on this decision. Involve your own trusted peers - your mentors, your closest community, etc. - people who do not know your candidate, but whose spiritual discernment you trust. Let them ring alarm bells and bring up big questions for you to pursue. What factors would they consider in a similar situation?

Your more obvious experts include your designated hiring team. This team is determined by whoever knows your organization’s DNA best. These are the experts in determining whether this candidate can best support your team’s mission in their current role, or by transitioning to this vacant role.

3. Look up.

Ponder this question, “Is this the right candidate or just the most convenient candidate?”

You are considering this candidate because you already think highly of them. You have to know you are susceptible to developing a bias toward your favored outcome. Consider that you already have rose-colored glasses on. This is not always a bad thing, but you will need to use discernment. The best way to overcome your bias is to involve other people.

Other qualified candidates may require a leap of faith; don’t let that scare you. On the other hand, you’re also keenly aware of your internal candidate’s weaknesses. Everybody has weaknesses; don’t let that scare you either.

If you do end up hiring an internal candidate, this person should be able to go to sleep at night confident that they are the right person for the job. 

4. You may need professional guidance. 

And if you are ready to evaluate your candidate against other potential external candidates, a retained search firm like Vanderbloemen would be the best way to navigate this situation. We can present you with the absolute most qualified candidates out there, which should have a sobering effect as you weigh your options. We are 100% objective about the hire, so you can send any candidates you have our way, and we vet them along with every other qualified candidate.

If hiring internally is daunting for you, good. That means you are taking it seriously. When done hastily, an internal hire can end quickly and leave behind scars. When done intentionally and with sound wisdom and discernment, it can revitalize your team and further your mission.