Q: I recently had two interviews for a job I really wanted—I met once with the hiring manager and then again with the full team. I thought everything was going well until I received an automated email alerting me that the position had been filled. I followed up with the recruiter, who told me they had an internal hire in mind all along who got the job. This really bothers me! Why waste people’s time if you know it’s all a front?
A: I’m really sorry about your experience. Receiving an automated email alert about a position after you’ve interviewed and met with several people face to face is unacceptable, and, frankly, the Human Resources department that allows this practice is damaging the company’s brand. Regarding the internal hire, I’d like to believe that they didn’t know ahead of time what the outcome of the interview process was going to be. Many organizations do have both internal and external candidates for positions. Internal candidates aren’t guaranteed the role, but it does typically represent a competitive situation.
In future interviews, try to learn what the internal candidate pool is by asking straight out “Are there internal candidates for this role?” An important part of what you can learn from this question is whether or not promoting from within is part of the organization’s culture. If there aren’t internal candidates, why not? Is there no succession planning? Do they not promote from within? If there are internal candidates, you’ll get a better idea of your competition. When searching job descriptions, you may even see a disclaimer stating that there is a “strong internal candidate for this position.” This tells potential candidates that it is a more competitive situation than normal and that they should consider carefully whether they are aligned with and qualified for the role.
On the bright side, your two interviews likely mean that you were actually quite competitive. You were a strong enough candidate to warrant being asked back to meet the team. Although you’re disappointed at not getting the job and angry at the automated email, you can turn this into a positive opportunity for yourself rather than a waste of time. You were able to meet with many people in the organization and in your industry—take advantage of that! Add anyone you met with to your LinkedIn and start developing new relationships. They can assist in networking for your next role, and they might even think of you for future opportunities within the organization.
Automated email aside, let’s give this organization the benefit of the doubt—depending on the organization, they may have been required to post the job externally regardless of having strong internal candidates. It’s also likely that they just want to make sure they get the best person for the role, and opening it up to external candidates would give them a broader pool from which to choose. Either way, you can turn this into a positive by using the experience to expand your network and learn what to look for in future interviews.