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Seeking an Internal Communication Role? Plan Your Change

Seeking a role in internal communication and not sure how to go about the interview process?

In this blog I am sharing pertinent themes and relevant questions that you should ask and seek answers for while planning your move and interviewing for a role in internal communication. I an earlier post I had written on potential elements interviewers look for in a candidate.

When it comes to a job in internal communication I will primarily request for a job description of the role from either the consultant or from the company, if you are approached directly. Look for specific asks on collaboration, reporting, success factors, skills, capabilities, opportunities and growth.

Silver lining

Before you meet the interviewer you need to be aware of what the organization does and how you fit in. Make it a point to look up the company website – the About Us, Careers, Leadership, Services, Recognitions and Culture sections provide useful insights about how the organization fares.

Go prepared: Carry samples of your work to share if you believe it will help give a better perspective. I personally find it relevant to explain the outputs and outcomes of communication created. Make sure to give suitable credits to team members and leaders who have coached and guided you in creating the artifacts. Avoid leaving samples behind – considering most internal communication material are proprietary matter of your employer and it will only create doubts in the minds of interviewer about your ethics.

Be upfront:  Unless you have decided to make a change be sure to explain in no uncertain terms that you are exploring the opportunity and the decision to make the move will depend on a variety of factors ranging from role to benefits.   Broad themes to focus on while seeking information about the job include the maturity of the role, current stage of affairs, your immediate supervisor, learning opportunities, stakeholders, expectations, measure of success, company culture, flexibility and benefits. You may not be able to ask you’re your questions – so if time runs out or if you think of some more queries after the interviews please inform the interviewer that you will seek further inputs by e-mail or through the consultant, whichever approach is suitable to the interviewer.

Role maturity: Try to understand where internal communication sits in the organization. Is it with the CEO’s office, HR. within a function, a part of Marketing or as a separate entity? It may be that this is a new role (especially if it is an MNC and they are expanding local operations). Gauge what is the need and why are they filling the need now. Does IC have a seat at the table?

Current state of affairs: You must probe what makes the role important, the perception of internal communications among people, what will help overcome the gaps, what are the top three priorities of the leadership in the near and long terms.

Your immediate supervisor: Research reports have proven that employees leave managers, not organizations. Make it a point to personally meet and engage with the person you will directly work with and who will review your performance. Make an attempt to understand your manager’s background, credibility and key strengths. Have you Googled your supervisor’s name and checked?

Opportunities for learning: Get a grasp of what’s in it for you when it comes to personal learning. Is the role going to sharpen your core skills, provide you ample opportunities to expand networks, access knowledge and to become a better professional.

Know your stakeholders:  Make it a point to learn more about whom you will interact with everyday and who will be responsible for your success in the firm.

Expectations at work: Get a sense of what is a day in the life of the communicator is in the organization.  How much time goes in your core work and other ancillary activities?

Success measures: Very often how you define success is what you will be supporting in your communication. Therefore it is vital to understand the ways stakeholders measure successes.  More importantly, how does your manager understand it?

Growth opportunities: How does it all add up and link to your career aspirations? Figure how much of investment the organization does for growing people within the system.

Company’s background:  Think about why you are seeking the opportunity with this organization – is it the work, the brand, the culture, compensation, role, designation, flexibility? Maybe a combination of factors. However just be sure you got it right before saying yes. Talk to people in the industry, ask around in the same organization, discuss your concerns with the consultant.

Culture and context: Very often the culture of the organization can help you fit in or stand out like a sore thumb. Ensure you have got enough context on what makes the place tick. Get a pulse of how it is to work in there.  Look out for warning signs when you walk in for discussions – the way employees greet each other, their leaders, how leaders engaged with peers and subordinates. Also, how comfortable people look while going about their work. Find out how things work, what made them join, how they perceive the firm vis-à-vis their former employer. Trawl social networking sites and www.glassdoor.com for comments and feedback on the company’s background and policies.

Before you take the leap: Think about opportunities lost at your current workplace and if the new employer is willing to compensate for the change or for the losses. Be open and flexible however when the decision is taken since is may not always be a win-win situation.

Prepare for questions: Be ready for queries such as-

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why are you moving?
  • Samples of work you have created?
  • One program that you personally championed and felt proud of?
  • A challenging project which you handled?
  • What if you don’t get this opportunity?
  • Your personal growth objectives?

Keep your interviewer informed:  There may be concerns and issues which can hamper your work or diminish your ability to perform effectively at time. Be sure to share it upfront. Especially, If you have any dependencies at your current firm, if you need flexibility during work hours, If there are commitments which you can’t drop or If you trade or run a business or have interests in areas which conflict with the business of the organization you are being interviewed for.

Signing off:  It is a best practice to thank the interviewers, show interest in keeping in touch even if it doesn’t work out.  Even if you aren’t taking up the offer be clear to specify the reasons, make an attempt to keep in touch and continue the dialogue in the future if your needs are met. You should thank people for their time especially if senior leaders have interviewed up, seek their contact IDs to connect in the future. Be sure to acknowledge the support of the HR person who set up the interviews or the consultant you highlighted the opportunity.

In case you are taking it up: Be ready to share your plans and update them frequently on progress in coming off from your current employer. In the meantime you can also volunteer to read up and plan for initiatives so that when you join you are ready to run with things.

What other experiences or tips do you have to share?

5 thoughts on “Seeking an Internal Communication Role? Plan Your Change

  1. Great article, particularly the bit about finding out how mature the role is within the organisation – is it a production or content manager role or is it a trusted adviser role?

  2. Nice article. Internal communications really fits into companies with a large employee base and where there are varied business units.People need to be informed about changes constantly.

    I liked the part about Role maturity and abt supervisors.

    Ashok

  3. This is a well constructed article and very comprehensive.

    Where IC is a new function it would be pertinent to check whether it is seen as a ‘flavour of the week”or is it part of a well-thought through strategy and who the champion of IC is.
    Relevant questions posed to the KEY stake-holders [by the candidate] will get responses which need to be compared to get the right perceptions

  4. Great Article!

    This article is extremely useful for many of us who are planning a move. Even for the ones in Communications, it gives us important pointers to reflect on.

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