Supporting Internal Interview Success Through Selling Techniques

By Carol Sommerfield

A human resource goal of organizations is to get the right person in the right job. As logical as that may sound, it is a daunting task. Often internal employees with proven track records, who already know the organization and culture, are excellent and talented candidates. However, they may not present well in interviews. This is a loss to both the organization and the employees: organizations overlook the best candidate for the job and employees miss out on development opportunities and career progression. Additionally, employees may get discouraged after numerous rejections and begin to look outside the organization to advance their careers.

Why do talented employees fail in the internal interview process? My interviews with managers and HR professionals reveal some common reasons. The internal candidate is:

I then conducted interviews with internal employees who were unsuccessful in obtaining jobs for which they were qualified. They listed some key barriers to their success:


My interviews with managers and employees in two large global corporations pointed to an overriding problem: the employees’ inability to sell a unique value proposition. What if those very talented and qualified employees were taught selling techniques to help them overcome their poor interview performance? My hypothesis was that a focus on sales techniques could help employees:

The 3P Model

Internal employees are not sales professionals and so a simple selling model was needed to help them navigate the interview process. I developed an easy to remember model, the 3 P’s, as a roadmap to successfully sell a solution (the employee) to a problem/opportunity (the purpose of the position).

HR professionals and career management consultants may want to coach their employees and clients on the techniques of Preparation, Pitch and Post activities to increase interview success.

Preparation (prior to the interview):

Pitch (during the interview):

Post Activities (after the interview):

Photo By Matt Lee On Unsplash

Exercise to Build Skill

When working with one or more employees on improving their interview skills it is sometimes useful to provide a low risk, fun practice exercise. Instead of using the 3P model by selling themselves in a real interview, ask them to first practice selling a highly unusual product that is for sale on the Internet (e.g. hissing cockroaches, edible insects). This exercise is enjoyable and provides the following benefits:

After the exercise, then ask them to use the 3P model to sell themselves and to perform mock interview with you or others to build skill.

The Principles of Selling Work

The 3P model increased interview success and confidence for those who used it. The 3P model also helped internal employees sell their ideas and proposals within their organizations. The process forces preparation and practice prior to the interview or presentation and builds confidence. It also stresses the importance of focusing on the customer (the hiring manager) and ensuring there is a good fit solution (the employee). The 3P model also works for external job searches.

The 3P model reinforces two key selling principles: It’s not about you – it’s about them and sell the suit and not the buttons.



Carol SommerfieldCarol Sommerfield, Ph.D., CMCS, GCDF, SPHR is the owner of Frogs Leap Consulting, LLC (www.frogsleapconsulting.com). She provides career management, leadership development and communication training and coaching to organizations and individuals. Prior to starting her own business, she was a corporate HR and IT executive with large global corporations. She can be contacted at carol.sommerfield@gmail.com.


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1 Comment

Amy Policastro Schroeder on Sunday 11/01/2020 at 01:03AM wrote:

Carol, Thank you for sharing your 3 P's model - succinct and helpful! Will share with K-12 community!

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