SmartRecruiters Blog

Promote Internally or Hire Externally?

One of the most difficult decisions to make for HR is candidate selection. While hiring software makes it easier, there are some parts of the process that can’t be accounted for, certain variables that just can’t be predicted, such as the reaction of the rejected candidate.

The company is growing at a pretty good pace. Business is good so much so that you need to expand your territory and workforce. Looks like you’re going to need to hire some new people and promote some incumbents. You’re excited but a little concerned as well because you know that ultimately when you make a hiring decision someone is going to be disappointed.

Ideally you want to promote someone within the company and you have few prized employees that you’ve got your eye on. The succession plan is in place and you are hoping one of the current employees will throw their hat in the ring and compete for this position, however you still must explore all avenues and open the selection process up to external candidates.

You move forward with the job posting internal and externally. After 3 weeks you have received applications complete with cover letters and resumes from 100 potential candidates. You and your team begin the process of narrowing down the candidates.

Now you have to toss out the undesirable candidates, you know the ones with bad resumes, grammatical errors, no relevant skills or education and the terrible telephone screenings. Then you divide the HR team up to handle the first round of interviews. After the first and second round of face to face interviews you have decided on your top 3.

Now here’s where it gets tough. You like the internal candidates. He or she is a good worker; maybe even a friend too. But there was an external candidate that just knocked your socks off. She was super intelligent, personable, educated and seems to be very talented. The hiring team’s candidate notes were very positive in your applicant tracking system. This is the kind of potential hire that would make you team stronger immediately. You wish you had the budget to make two selections but you don’t. You biggest fears are coming to fruition.

Someone is going to be disappointed, so how do you manage it? Well you’re human and you can definitely sympathize with the rejected candidate, but let’s remember, this is business and nothing’s personal. So let’s recap, the employer handled this process using organizational integrity, respect and great care. Having said that, ask yourself:

Did we…

Lie or mislead?

Make any promises? (implied or direct)

Play EEO games and interview to pad compliance stats?

Hire an unqualified boob and give someone that crappy “we went with a better fit” bull*hit excuse?

Knowingly embarrass anyone?

You and your team need to handle this decision with class and professionalism. It’s a difficult one to make and you do not just go through the motions to placate anyone. You should be serious about talent management, succession planning and employee morale.

Let’s face it, no one likes to be passed over for a promotion but sometimes there are better candidates out there. You must develop your organization’s bench and think about succession planning, mission and vision strategy. As employees put themselves out there to be evaluated for promotions be sure to treat them with the upmost respect. This will minimize the likelihood of them telling you to go screw yourself and dropping that letter of resignation on your desk.

cost of workChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work. Email Chris at Photo Credit FocusHR.


Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.