Internal recruitment – the pros and cons

Feb 8, 2016 | Recruitment

When you have a recruitment need in your business, the prospect of filling it with an internal candidate can be tempting. But there are some things to consider before doing so, and given how important it is to get the right people working for your business, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of recruiting internally before you go ahead. 

The pros

Retaining expertise

Appointing someone internally might mean you avoid losing them through seeking promotion elsewhere. This means you are retaining their expertise, knowledge and understanding of the business, relationships with clients and experience, and are maximising the cost effectiveness of any training they may have received in their time with you.

Induction and initial period

There’s always an initial period of getting up to speed required with a new employee, as they learn the ropes, make contacts, find out about how things are done and build up relationships and knowledge of the company. This can impact profitability/productivity in the first six months or so, and also take up management time needed for induction/additional support. Recruiting an internal candidate will reduce the impact of this somewhat. They still need to get up to speed with the job, and may need additional support, but they won’t need the same level of induction and will have a head start when it comes to organisational knowledge and relationships.

Recruitment process

Recruitment can be a lengthy and time consuming process, drafting ads, briefing agencies, shortlisting candidates, interviewing and then possibly second interviewing. It takes up a lot of management time which you could be spending working on the business. If you appoint an internal candidate without going through any external recruitment process, clearly this will save a lot of time and get the person started in their role sooner.

A known quantity

With an internal candidate, you usually know them pretty well. You know their strengths and weaknesses, you know the details of their experience and know about their productivity and the results they have achieved. However robust your recruitment process, there is always an element of risk when taking on someone external. Interviews are not actually that reliable as a predictor of performance in a role, and some people are fantastic at interviews, but not necessarily so good at the job they are being recruited to.
All this makes internal recruitment sound like a great option. But what about the downside? 

The cons

A breath of fresh air

Outside experience and expertise can add a breath of fresh air to a business, bringing new ideas, experience from elsewhere, and can revitalise a team and add enormous value. If you are a very small business you probably don’t recruit that often so don’t get the opportunity to do this frequently.

Are you missing out?

You may have a good internal candidate but are they genuinely the best person for the role? By looking externally as well, you are maximising the chances of getting absolutely the best person for the job. There might be people out there with more experience, better skills and a higher level of knowledge than your internal candidate.

This is even more the case with small businesses as the pool of internal candidates available to you is likely to be either tiny or only one person. At least with a bigger business you might have three or four internal candidates from different teams.

Doing something different with the role

Talking to potential external candidates might give you new ideas about how the role could be fulfilled. You might find great people who want to job share (giving you the benefit of two sets of knowledge and experience), or who can do the job in fewer hours, saving you money.

You still need to recruit

You might be tempted to recruit internally to avoid a lengthy recruitment process and get someone started in the role more quickly, but of course if they are being moved/promoted from another role in the business, there will still be a gap to fill somehow, meaning you might only be slightly delaying recruitment rather than avoiding it.
Internal candidates can be great. If they are genuinely ready and are the best person for the job, then going through a recruitment process externally for the sake of it is likely to be a waste of everyone’s time. But appointing an internal candidate for the wrong reasons (saving time and money) can be extremely risky, and can deprive your business of excellent outside experience.

Short term pain can lead to long term gain. So it may be sensible to bite the bullet and look at external options as well, to ensure you are making a fully informed decision and are definitely getting the best for your business.
If you need help or advice with any aspect of recruiting for your business, do get in touch.