I'm down to an internal candidate vs. an external candidate for a role that is only one step up from entry-level.

I'm reviewing the "Performance Improvement through Effective Hiring" cast and got to the part where Mark says "9 times out of 10 I'll take the less-qualified internal candidate."

That helps! But I really really like this external candidate. She has the PERFECT temperament, aptitudes, and mindset for the role. (I've seen several different people in the role and I have a good feel for what characteristics it requires.)

The internal candidate has good Access skills and the director of his area has nothing but praise for him, but his temperament and aptitudes may not be quite as good a match.

Plus, it's only a matter of time before he'll be moving on -- he's studying electrical engineering. Whereas the external candidate, also still in school, is studing English Lit and Art History. My husband says, "She'll stay forever." (Sort of like I've done, with my impractical liberal arts degree. :wink: )

I understand that there's no guarantee of ANY given employee sticking around for any given amount of time. Does that mean I shouldn't factor that in at all? (I don't mean that to sound snippy, I'm really really looking for some insight.)

This is my first ever hiring decision so I may be overanalyzing, but I want to do good. :)

RichRuh's picture


What do the other interviewers think?

The danger about hiring the external candidate is that it sends a message to internal candidates that upward mobility in the company is limited- if they want to get promoted, they will have to leave.

I assume that's not true, but not everyone believes in your wonderful signature quote. :(


terrih's picture

This wouldn't be a promotion, it would be a lateral move, at the same pay rate. (Which reminds me... I don't even know if I'll be permitted to offer that much... it's $2 an hour more than the previous person was making. Whereas what the previous person was making would constitute a raise for the external candidate.)

The internal candidate doesn't like his current position because the hours are crazy and he gets calls at all hours of the day and night to boot... on top of trying to go to college. Plus there is something about a peer who became his supervisor... they had been chums before that, but now the relationship has become awkward. Which got me worried about his interpersonal skills, but I asked the director if the guy has any other problems that way, and he said no, he gets along with everybody.

RichRuh's picture

Yes, but I'm not sure that matters.

From my admittedly limited viewpoint, the key issue here is that you are making the needs/wants of your current employees a lower priority than the needs/wants of the external candidate. Or at least that is how it could be seen by the internal candidate and their co-workers.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it- but it is something that has to get factored into the decision.

What makes you think that the internal candidate won't stay at the company?


terrih's picture

So true. And there has been some negative perception that this company DOESN'T take care of employees. It sure would be nice if I could put the lie to that. :)

The reason I think he wouldn't stay is that I asked him his career goal, and he said "Electrical engineering." However, he would probably stay until he finished his degree, and you're right, there is no knowing the future.

We are having him over for an hour this afternoon to show him in more detail what the job entails so he can get a better idea if he'd like it. (suggested by his current director)

WillDuke's picture

M&M tell us to look for reasons NOT to hire someone. It sounds like you have your reasons on the internal candidate. Now you're just trying to stockpile justifications.

Me, I never turn down a "perfect" employee. If they're perfect hire them.

Make a decision, live with it.

PierG's picture

if you don't hire her, give her my email :)

Mark's picture

Tough call, but it sounds as though you may be in the 1 out of 10 case. It might help (though it should not be a reason) to be able to clearly show the differences. If it's all subjective, that makes this harder.

Simple question: are you CERTAIN she can do the technical stuff? you said he had the Access skills, and she had the temprament. Would you SWEAR she has enough tecnical skills?

Make a decision. Trust your gut.


juliahhavener's picture

The primary factor in my (recent) hiring of an internal candidate is the fact that I have 4 years of solid work history - good attendance, good attitude, and a VERY clear understanding of the how and why he is willing to take a fairly significant pay cut to join my team. I think it was a good decision for both of us.

I had a really difficult choice recently - 1 internal candidate, 2 external candidate - ALL excellent for slightly different reasons - and only one req to hire them to. I got lucky - I was able to hire two of them instead, and my third was picked up by another department.

terrih's picture

Yeah, lucky!!

Somehow it never occurred to me that this isn't only about figuring out who to say yes to... but also who to say NO to! :cry:

terrih's picture

A new question... whoever I DO say no to, is that a person I can add to my talent pool? Should I tell them I would like to hang onto their phone number in case something else comes up?

Mark's picture


A sin not to.


terrih's picture

Well, then, it's a good thing you talked about the talent pool in that one cast or I would have never thought of it! Phew! Thanks for helping me avoid SIN!! :lol:

leigh_k's picture

What if you offer the new job to your internal candidate and his old job to your external candidate (you'll need to replace him, right? or someone will, if he's not currently in your department).

This gives the internal candidate a change of pace, shows that your organization takes care of their own, plus brings in a quality external person (who can, by the way, be coached and brought up to speed by the existing employee).

It's so much easier to see solutions to other people's solutions (when I don't have to worry about the consequences). I've got to deal with my own reality of replacing 2 employees who are going back to school to do their masters.

I'll be back to the forums shortly to post some questions of my own!


terrih's picture

The old job is in another dept (so it's not my call) and I'm told they have somebody lined up for that.

OTOH, the external candidate has some training that would suit her for a different opening I hope to have soon... in fact, she might even like that job better.

We let the internal candidate shadow someone for an hour to get an idea what the job entails, and he still thinks he'd like it.

In case you can't tell, I've just about made up my mind. :wink:

terrih's picture

I doo'd it! I made the offer (a la the podcast, of course) and he accepted. 8)

I went with the internal candidate. And I just got off the phone with the other one telling her I'd like to keep her resume on hand.

(Although Pier, I guess I could give you her number... she MIGHT be willing to relocate to Italy if you make it worth her while :wink: )

thaGUma's picture

I think we would all relocate to Italy... 8)

RichRuh's picture

[quote]I think we would all relocate to Italy... Cool[/quote]

I'm in. 8)

Mark's picture

Well done, Terri! Glad it went well.

Keep us posted in the next 30-60 days.


juliahhavener's picture

Congratulations, Terri! It feels good, doesn't it?

terrih's picture

Why yes, it does!! :D