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Your internal candidate... Not ready yet??

When needing to make a senior appointment how many times have you heard it said "John is a great guy but we don‘t think he is quite ready yet". John has been with you for 5 years, but you are about to hire an outsider who you have known for no more than 5 hours!

Knowing this mindset going in, recruiters frequently advise clients who have an inside candidate who is 75% percent as strong as an outside choice to hire the insider. When you bring somebody in from the outside the most frequent reason it does not work out is because of fit and culture reasons.

Inside candidates know the business model, organization goals and internal politics. They know the customers, clients and co-workers. They also have established relationships with colleagues and their organization‘s leaders. Therefore they can assimilate faster and move into action quicker.

On the other hand external hires can bring fresh perspective and bring skill sets not found within the company‘s ranks. External hires bring creativity, vision, innovation and change. But they typically cost more than insiders, may need longer adjustment periods to integrate with other leaders and ruffle a few feathers!

Executive search firms can be engaged to manage such processes knowing that they may not be hiring an outside candidate, but recommending the promotion of an internal candidate. They are acting partly as a management consultant as well as a recruiter and they get paid an appropriate fee for this. This can greatly assist a company CEO to be able to play more of a ‘chairman‘ role in the process by getting the executive search firm to interview board members and senior managers to obtain feedback, opinions and issues which may not always come out at more formal meetings as individuals know it would be unwise to express their views publically.

Internal vs External

Hiring an external candidate has a number of risks. External hires need a longer orientation period as they need time to get settled into their new position and become familiar with the internal culture, business model, get to know their new colleagues and build relationships with them. Acceptance of a new external candidate by the current staff is another risk as there is a possibility that the new employee would not fit into the company culture and not get along with the staff.

The previous success of the external candidate was dependent on their resources, relationships and colleagues. Moving into a new role in a new organization means they do not have the support system they used to have and building such infrastructure requires time and effort from all sides.

The internal candidate knows the business model, organization goals and culture and has the ability to do the job based on their previous performance and interpersonal skills. As a result, internal hires can adjust faster into their new position and role.

However hiring internal candidates prevents new minds and new ideas from entering the company. Knowing the personnel, internal environment and culture may hinder a newly promoted employee from making tough decisions and changes that would affect colleagues.

External candidates can bring a new wave of energy and fresh vision in addition to a different experience and approach to the organization. However it is always harder to integrate new people into a system that is already established. Hiring of an external candidate may cause friction and dissatisfaction among the current employees about the ability to progress inside the company and there is a risk that your highly regarded internal candidate may decide to leave your company!

An executive search firm will carry out systematic research to identify candidates in an agreed pool of relevant companies and carry out an analysis of candidates track record as well as that of the internal candidate. When it gets to the shortlist stage the search firm can also find out about the culture of the prospective candidates current company and also seek references from previous employers to help to identify and mitigate against the risks of a cultural misfit. Their internal research obtained from meeting with directors and senior managers enables them to reduce risks and achieve a better fit of the candidate to the organisations needs and avoiding a strong internal candidate being passed over who then leaves to join one of your competitors in a promoted role!!






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