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I am currently hiring to fill an open position in my team. This is something I’ve done dozens of times during my career, through external candidates and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never made a hire that I later regretted. However, I am naturally cautious by nature and would rather have a role open than filled with the wrong candidate.

Owing to a recent move to a larger organisation, I’ve now received my first internal transfer request from a colleague in a different team, to fill the position I have open.

As I’ve filled previous roles with external candidates, this is uncharted territory and therefore something I’m a little apprehensive about. I feel a degree of obligation to accept the internal candidate, possibly due to the awkwardness of saying “no” to someone I need to continue to work with, admittedly fairly distantly.

What are the potential pitfalls to avoid when considering an internal transfer against external hires? I don’t know how the internal candidate’s manager may respond and am concerned about making enemies in my new organisation. The candidate in question has taken the initiative in applying for this role I have open, but it may be viewed internally as pilfering talent!

Other than approaching the manager of the candidate for a discussion, are there any other diplomatic steps I should consider taking?

I am currently trying to determine how much of an existing precedent there is for internal transfers at my new organisation.

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    Just talk to your manager. – Philip Kendall May 13 at 10:10
  • Yeah, talk to your manager with your concerns. What I would say is that YOUR wishes are only part of the equation. – Gregory Currie May 13 at 11:11
  • Depends much on the norms (or policies, if any) of your organization. Ask at appropriate level. In case internal transfers are not the norm, would need to work out some plan that is also good with other mgr, and jointly get it approved (first check if candidate is assuming confidentiality - they shouldn't, but still...) – Pete W May 13 at 13:23
  • Why would an internal candidate go through any less of a process of rigor than an external candidate? I would think if you feel comfortable vetting someone external that an internal candidate should provide no difference. – Joel Etherton May 13 at 18:07
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Other than approaching the manager of the candidate for a discussion, are there any other diplomatic steps I should consider taking?

Just treat this as any other hire.

Get and review the candidate's resume. Conduct the interview as you normally would. Talk with the candidate's current manager as a reference. Don't worry about the diplomatic steps, other than always granting the favor of an interview to every internal candidate.

And as @DJClayworth wisely points out in his comment, never say "this candidate has poor skills", since that reflects badly not just on the candidate but also on the person who hired them, always say something like "the candidate's skills are not the ones we are looking for at this time"

If your company has a policy on internal transfers, then don't worry about pilfering.

In the end, choose the best candidate for the opening without regard to internal versus external.

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    The only thing I would add is, when giving feedback on an internal candidate, never say "this candidate has poor skills", since that reflects badly not just on the candidate but also on the person who hired them, always say something like "the candidate's skills are not the ones we are looking for at this time". – DJClayworth May 13 at 15:29
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Since you are new to the organization you need to check what policy/procedures are in place regarding how internal transfers are handled. This may be known by your supervisor, or you may have to go the HR. The HR representative who is your POC for this hiring action should be able to answer any of your questions.

I have worked at places where they always contact the current supervisor. I have also worked for places where the current manager is never contacted until the date of the switch has been set in stone.

You have to know what details about the employee you can access before you start this process. In some places once they apply you can see their performance reviews and their exact salary.

Don't contact the current supervisor until you understand the corporate policies. Doing so too early or when not required could get the applicant in trouble for no reason.

I have found that internal hires are easier because of all extra information you have.

Some companies encourage internal hires. It helps get good workers promoted, and it keeps talented employees within the company.

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