'Candidate care' is the question of how you treat people applying to work at your organization. It should be a major consideration in every single appointment process, since negative candidate experiences can have a terrible long-term impact on your employer brand and reputation. Applying for a new job or a promotion also requires a lot of emotional and professional investment. All candidates deserve a positive recruitment journey, but this becomes particularly acute for internal candidates (‘internals’). As current employees, they are amongst your most important assets. If they feel mismanaged or neglected, it can derail the best laid plans, diminish productivity, foster resentments, and even lead to staff attrition.

Here are Society's eight top tips to ensure that recruitment processes remain a positive experience for internals, regardless of whether they ultimately get the job they're applying for.

1. Treat all candidates consistently

Treat internals the same as external candidates.  This is the cardinal rule. They should receive exactly the same information as other candidates, even if they’ll already have access to most of it by virtue of their job. Your search partner should be available to them as a sounding board and advocate for their candidacy. They should receive timely recruitment updates alongside all other candidates involved, even if you plan to follow-up with them separately afterwards.

2. Avoid biased assumptions

This comes in many, often unexpected forms. Give internals a fair chance to pitch their fit. While it’s impossible to cast aside your knowledge of their work to date, give them a fair chance to explain their suitability. Don’t fall foul of misplaced but patronising assumptions - eg. he works part-time at the moment, so won’t be willing to commit to this full-time role.

3. Word your interview questions appropriately

Questions such as “When the current CEO leaves, what would you change first?” can be unsettling for internals. Ensure that interview questions are not phrased in a way that makes them feel they are being disloyal.

4. Don’t offer interviews for tokenistic reasons

Internals should only be advanced to an interview if they are considered to have genuine merit. Avoid interviewing internals purely for their personal development, or for political reasons.  It is better to have a candid but constructive feedback discussion with an internal who objectively doesn't merit an interview than to raise false hope by offering an interview disingenuously.

5. Ensure robust, useful feedback is shared

All candidates that reach interview stage should be offered feedback whether they advance in a process or not. This detail is important for personal development and lessens the risk of relationship damage for any internal who is not successful. Let your search partner provide timely feedback in the first instance, even if you plan to arrange a follow-up conversation.

6. Offer competitively if hiring an internal

You will have gone to market with a salary range or banding that is commensurate with the scope of the role. Short-changing internal candidates (particularly those stepping up) when it comes to salary, is not appropriate. If they're good enough to do the job then pay them the fair 'market rate' regardless of their current remuneration. 

7. Provide aftercare proactively to any internal

If an internal doesn’t get the job, schedule a conversation within 48 hours to minimise the potential for awkwardness, particularly if other colleagues took part in the interview process. Beyond sharing your decision, ask the internal when they will be ready for further conversation. Be respectful and appreciate that the internal may need some time to process the decision before a full in-house debrief.

8. Allow unsuccessful internals to decide whether to disclose their candidacy

Do not share with an appointed external candidate that there was an internal in the running. Confidentiality should be honoured for all candidates. Have a discussion with the unsuccessful internal to get their view on whether or not the successful candidate should know they applied for the post. If the internal would rather keep that confidential then respect their wishes.