Many large companies have the reflex to post their positions internally before looking for candidates outside the organization. However, this process creates a major problem: internal candidates who are refused tend to withdraw from their work and eventually resign in greater numbers. Researchers have discovered how to mitigate these negative effects.

The virtues of internal recruitment are numerous and recognized for some time already. In 2011, one study showed that an external candidate will generally be paid more (18% more, according to the study), will take longer to integrate and will have a lower performance than an internal candidate. We understand the temptation to turn to this form of recruitment.

However, establishing a formal internal recruitment process is a double-edged sword. When an internal position is posted, it becomes inevitable to have to refuse applications. And, according to various studies, an internal refusal tends to reduce job satisfaction, and then eventually leads several failed candidates to leave the company.

Not inevitable

In February, researchers at Pennsylvania State University published an extensive study in the Academy of Management Journal to identify factors that can help swallow the pill from an internal refusal. The results are based on the analysis of 9,000 internal refusal experiences across 100 companies over a 5-year period. Managers, take note: the first factor that mitigates negative effects concerns you directly!

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University have found that a candidate who has been interviewed by the manager responsible for the posted position is more likely to remain in the organization than a candidate who has been rejected at the CV selection stage or who has been interviewed by only one HR staff member.

Employees who do not advance to the interview stage tend to feel that their application was not given serious consideration and rarely receive concrete feedback about how to improve their chances of success in the future. They are therefore more likely to look externally for subsequent advancement opportunities”, explains the authors of the study, JR Keller and Kathryn Dlugos, in the HBR.

When a manager takes the time to interview an internal candidate, he/she sends the signal that the candidate has the minimum skills to fill the desired position. Also, the interview can be used to communicate to internal candidates who have not retained the skills to be acquired to potentially qualify for the position.

The key finding of our research is that employees are not only applying for the job now; they also want to know what opportunities they have for advancement in the future. If an employee is rejected today, they have a good chance of staying on set if they feel that their turn will come”, summarize the researchers.

Committing yourself internally

The second important factor that emerges from the research is whether the position was finally filled internally or externally. According to the Pennsylvania State University study, “rejected” candidates will be less likely to demobilize if the successful candidate is a colleague.

Once again, the assumption remains the same: if the position is filled by a colleague, the rejected candidates will tend to think that their chances of being retained in a future posting remain high.

Good search for candidates… internally!

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