I'm nearly 40, and suffer from Cerebral Palsy. Being disabled in this way has hampered my career, in that finding a job is tough and interviews are few and far between. When I manage to land an interview, I cherish it, as in I try very hard to ace the interview.

During the Interview I answer all the questions asked, trying not to let my disability "pollute the interviewer." At the end I'm given the opportunity to ask questions, and I do, but I'm wondering if there is a proper way to ask if the position I'm interviewing for is going to be filled by someone who already works at the company, because I'm tired of hearing "We went with an internal candidate but we will keep your resume on file if anything changes."


I'd rather skip the interview process all together if the company already has an internal candidate, but I can't tell from an internet posting for a position, so I still have to apply to leads.


Is there some way I can find out say from the HR Department whether the position will be filled internally, so I can just "skip over" applying, and find the positions where I have a chance?

  • @eyoung100, I tried to make your question more concise by removing some information I didn't think was relevant to the primary question. If you think I took out something important, feel free to edit it back in.
    – David K
    Jul 20, 2015 at 19:56
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – jmort253
    Jul 22, 2015 at 13:13

7 Answers 7


There's no polite way to ask a company if they intend to hire someone other than you - before, after, or during an interview. It is unlikely they will give you the answer if they can help it, and even if they can confirm that they have internal candidates, that does not guarantee they will be hiring internally, especially if you impress them during your interview. Asking if they intend to hire someone else during your interview undermines the integrity of your own interview, which is the last thing you want to do when trying to "ace" it.

Many organizations, as @Kai pointed out, are required to have open interviews even when they already have a candidate in mind internally - and while they will usually prefer to hire internally, these companies will occasionally opt for a better-qualified new candidate if they feel the investment is worth it. But other than directly asking them (which would be rude no matter how you phrase it), there's no way to know if they're going to be doing that or not.

The only way you can be certain that a company isn't 'hiring internally' is if the company itself is new - startups that are looking to hire their initial workforce rarely 'hire internally' because there isn't any 'internally' yet. But even they may have a candidate pre-selected for the position, so the reality is that there is always a chance there'll be someone else they've already chosen for the job.

That being said, it is entirely possible for established companies to be looking for new recruits too - for departments that are newly-made, or for positions that they have nobody trained in yet. So it is not a waste of your time to try to apply for jobs at established companies - even if they've already selected a candidate, if you really 'ace' an interview, a good HR department will choose you over someone else.

But regardless, you should approach openings in a company with an open mind - unless they explicitly say there's an internal-hiring process, assume there isn't one, and treat it as such. You'll do much better without worrying about something that you personally cannot control.

  • Beautiful answer
    – user37925
    Jul 20, 2015 at 20:41
  • Even startups may have preselected the person to fill a position. The managers weren't born on the same day as the startup company, after all, and already know people.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 20, 2015 at 21:07
  • 8
    @BenVoigt a startup is unlikely to waste time interviewing external candidates if they already have someone preselected though. They won't have the codified HR policies and they won't have the time to waste. Jul 21, 2015 at 3:34
  • @carson depends on whether they have government (sub)contracts forcing them into certain policies.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 21, 2015 at 4:01
  • Given the comments that have been posted about startups using pre-selected candidates, I've added a few lines about that to my answer. I feel it's important enough to this question that it should be included.
    – Zibbobz
    Jul 21, 2015 at 13:04

Basically, the best way to ask this is to not ask. If you must ask, just being straightforward and asking them if they are also considering any internal candidates would be the best way, but there's really no way to ask this without risking sounding accusatory and combative. What if they do have an internal candidate but are also legitimately considering external candidates? By asking this, you've effectively implied that you don't trust them to be impartial and accused them of at least wasting your time if not discriminating against you. You've also given them a red flag that you may easily become bitter and, therefore, might not be pleasant to work with.

Yes, sometimes organizations will prefer internal candidates where possible. That's a fact of life. My suggestion would be to just accept that sometimes that's going to happen and don't let it frustrate you. Risking alienating the interviewers is not going to help your chances of getting a job. If they weren't considering you before, asking this certainly won't make them start. However, if they were considering hiring you, asking this may cause them to stop. If you're in an interview anyway, you're much better off to just complete the interview as well as you can and, if you don't get the job, just keep looking.


Every company has the option of hiring internally. If they are interviewing you then you do have a chance, they are simply trying to find the best fit for the position, the issues isn't that they have someone internally already in mind for it (this is may be tough to hear, but...) it's that you weren't the better fit.

Recruiters and Companies both won't give you proper feedback after an interview if they really didn't like you, you can ask for information but the amount they will give usually depends on the amount they liked you unfortunately. See if there is something specific you are saying or doing in the interview that is giving them to much cause for concern. Try to find other people with Cerebral Palsy and see how they went about getting a job or if they struggled with the same sort of track record when it comes to interviews.

Ultimately the problem comes down to how the interviews are going so figuring out the problem points within the process you use will best help you find a job. I've only ever met 1 company that did interviews of outside people just to 'appease' something internal (political in this circumstance). Every other company I've come across or know about through my connections only bring someone in if they have real intentions of giving them a chance.

It is unfortunate you have to waste your time so to speak, but to be honest, if you're not willing to do that simply because they may have someone else internally they are looking for then you wouldn't be a good fit for that position as it is - just having someone willing to put forth extra effort in giving them a chance to see if your both a fit for each other has value in it.

Good Luck


It's very unlikely that they would be able to answer that the interview process you are both taking part in is a complete sham so this is tricky. I think if you asked "Are there any internal candidates being considered for this position?" that would be the closest you could get to the root of it. Nobody would have to admit to the waste of time the process is but you would get a hint at the answer. The risk here is that if it is an actual competition rather than a formality. By giving up you lose opportunities of this sort.


Something to bear in mind is that it turns out that there are almost always internal candidates for a job - but they are often far from right for the position.

When a job opens up in the level above, the proportion of lower-ranked employees that apply for it is deeply astonishing to even themselves (even one of the, say, 50% of the ones that apply can be surprised that anybody else had 'the idea'). It's a manifestation of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority.

So you can assume there is probably always an internal candidate - your problem is that what you really want to ask is "Is there an internal candidate that's more suited than me" - and this rapidly reduces down to the same question anyone else has.


One option would be to ask them how they will go about making the decision on who to hire. It doesn't directly ask about other candidates, but they might discuss the need to review other candidates or close out internal applicants, etc.


The best answer I can give is to use an agency. Tell they that you do not wish to apply for jobs that already have an internal candidate. They can make that part of the criteria when looking for a job for you. That said, the answer to that question is very internal and you will likely get a LOT fewer interviews.

If you feel you must ask. Then ask directly. It's rude. But I can appreciate a direct question more then 50 beat around the bush questions.

Also, just because a company has an internal candidate, doesn't mean you shouldn't interview. Think of it as practice. Plus the company may not hire you for job x, but if you leave a good impression they may hire you for y.

Finally, don't give up. Your taking a very negative attitude (in your question). The best way to ensure failure is to not even try. Instead take the interview, get the rejection, eat some ice cream and try again.

I have worked with several companies that have a policy of 'forced interviews' and while the internal applicant has a stronger starting point, it's not that uncommon that an external applicant is better suited to the task then the internal applicant was.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .