Hiring from the Inside: Defending Your Internal Recruitment Decisions

16 March 2021
3 minute
Hiring from the Inside Defending Your Internal Recruitment Decisions

The market thinks:  

Compared with bringing new people into the business, internal recruitment is easy.  

Thomas knows:  

While you might already have a fantastic pool of talent at your disposal, internal recruitment can go very, very wrong. 

Applicability and fit are just as important when you’re hiring from the inside. However, it’s even harder to remove bias from the equation. Why? Because you’re likely to know all sorts of things about the candidates in question, such as:  

  • What they’re like to communicate with.  
  • How well their last project went.  
  • How well connected they are.  
  • What they like to eat for lunch. 

All of which makes it harder for you to judge them based on skills and fit (except maybe the lunch thing). 

The pitfalls of perceived bias  

Chances are, you already know how damaging perceived bias can be in the workplace. After all, you don’t want your people to think you’re handing out roles unfairly. The main pitfalls are:  

  • Disruption – forget productivity, perceived bias is a quick route to workplace drama.  
  • Distrust – if your people think you’re promoting/hiring unfairly, you’ll lose a lot of love.  
  • Attrition – and, if you really upset people, they might just leave.  
  • Wrong fit – of course, if you don’t hire objectively, you might miss out on the best internal candidates.  

So, how can you protect against all this? Well, if everybody knows they’re being assessed on a level playing field, the selection process feels a whole lot fairer. That’s where Thomas comes in. 

Think of the worst thing that could happen

We don’t usually advise doing this, but in this case we will. Consider your last internal hire. Now, ask yourself: would you be comfortable defending your decision at an employment tribunal? With objective data on your side, you can be. And, you can give real, data-driven reasons for why you hired X over Y, or why Y’s specific attributes or personality weren’t quite right for a given role. So, if the worst does come to the worst, you can feel a lot better about it. 

But perceived bias isn’t the only pitfall you need to avoid

It can be all too easy to upset internal job applicants. If you don’t handle the situation carefully, you might make people feel like they’ve wasted their time on a process with a pre-ordained outcome. Compared with external applicants, it’s even more important to keep internal applicants happy and on board with what your business stands for. If you don’t, you might risk losing them altogether. Clear and transparent communication, plus a fair process, can mitigate this kind of negativity.

We’ve taken the same approach at Thomas

When we wanted to restructure our team, we assessed all of our people against job, manager and team fit using our own assessments. This allowed us to make the most of everyone’s talents, no matter their place in our new structure 

Top takeaways

Sure, you might know that a candidate has good relationships across the business. Or that they’re great with clients. But you need to assess these ‘in-the-know’ insights alongside a full understanding of their aptitudes and personality traits.  

Treat people with respect, openness and transparency, be clear about your processes and set everything out beforehand. Internally or externally – it’s the only way to give everyone a more positive recruitment experience. 

Read our full manifesto to understand how you can optimise your internal recruitment processes with confidence. 

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