Are you looking for a new job within your current company? Don’t assume you’ll have an advantage in obtaining the job just because you already work there.

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Are you looking for a new job within your current company? Don’t assume you’ll have an advantage in obtaining the job just because you already work there.

Most hiring managers are even tougher on internal candidates than external ones. That’s because they know internal candidates have access to company personnel and a lot more information about the position than an external candidate. If you don’t do your homework, be prepared for poor results.

“Sally” is an example of what can go wrong when you skip the important preparation steps for an interview. Sally was an internal candidate who had applied for a position within my marketing team. Since she already worked at the company and had access to the employees in my department, my assumption was that she would be well-prepared for her job interview.

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However, when I asked her questions about our newly released product, she was unable to answer. When I asked what she thought it would take to be successful in the position, she pointed to the list of job requirements in the job posting. The interview spiraled downward at a rapid pace.

Several weeks after the interview, Sally asked me to have coffee. Then, she apologized for the interview. She said she hadn’t taken the interview process seriously enough, and had wrongly assumed I would hire her because she was good at her existing job.

But here’s the thing: I wasn’t her manager, so I didn’t know anything more about Sally than what I’d read on her resume. Yes, I’d seen her around the office and during various meetings, and she usually had been well-prepared for discussions. That’s what made her lack of preparation for the job interview all the more confusing.

What I hope you’ll learn from Sally’s situation is that it takes just as much work to obtain a new job at your current employer – and sometimes more – because the expectation is that you’ll be more prepared than an external candidate. So don’t take anything for granted, and follow these tips:

Take the interview process seriously.

Speak with employees who are already in the job you want.

Meet with the HR person responsible for the department you want to work in and ask for feedback on your qualifications.

Gain the support of your current manager, if you decide to apply for a different position.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.