How to Know Whether to Hire From the Inside or Outside to Build Back Stronger

3 Steps to Help You Find the Best Candidate for the Role

Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.
Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning

imagesThe market during the downturn provided significant challenges for employers when hiring. Conservative decision-making became widespread, particularly in the form of narrow sector focus and an unwillingness to ‘risk’ transferable skills or experience, seeking the comfort of market expertise.

Downsizing within organisations called for restructuring processes where employees had to compete with each other by interviewing for roles within the new business structure.

How can these challenges be overcome in a recovering but ever-changing marketplace?

Ultimately, we must respond to the changing dynamics of the market and look to exploit the opportunities that arise from it – just as hirers become less risk-averse, so do prospective candidates, and this provides the opportunity to attract candidates with real potential. Recognising potential is key for all companies striving to keep pace with this rapidly changing, increasingly complex world.

The argument for hiring from outside because people from different backgrounds can bring in new perspectives and opinions that will challenge the existing and sometimes stubborn organisations is strong. However, promoting from within presents the argument that the inspiration it gives to other insiders helps to keep your talented workforce strong and motivated.

When hiring from outside, you’re forced to write a proper job spec, consider a larger pool of candidates, grill them in well-structured interviews and conduct in-depth reference checks.

This isn’t as easy with internal candidates who are already your colleagues and friends, who will naturally ask ‘aren’t my years of contribution and performance evidence of my qualification?” ‘don’t you know me well enough after this time?’ which in all probability is true but to make it a fair playing field, everyone needs to go through the same rigorous process.

How to Know Whether to Hire From the Inside or Outside to Build Back Stronger

3 Steps to Help You Find the Best Candidate for the Role

Step 1. Start by defining the profile of the ideal person and consider a wide pool of both insiders and outsiders. To identify the best, you need to recognise the people who have the right motives, qualities and potential to help you excel. At the interview, this preparation will help you to get past the polish to hire the best candidate.

Step 2. Use role-play for real-play workplace scenarios to allow you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers to common interview questions. This is because they will be required to react in the moment, allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

There are many challenges when hiring, and anyone who strives to lead from good to great knows the importance of getting things right at the root, which is the people.

Step 3. Focus on hiring for insatiable curiosity and the insight to see connections to achieve greatness in building and transforming companies that remain at the forefront of society is the key to success.

Start from a fair playing field and consider the best people from both inside and outside your company.  Surround yourself with the best by seeking out potential because this is what will keep you at the forefront of this recovering but ever-changing marketplace.

Below is a demonstration of a Corporate Drama Role Play for Real Play: Hire for Potential. Beth (played by Julia) has to demonstrate how having been brought in from the outside; she would manage resistance from people on the inside who are suspicious and mistrustful of any changes she wants to make. Marie (played by Julie) is playing the role of a resistant member of staff


This story was originally published on 15/1/15. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.


School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning?

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

Managing your career in turbulent times is an article I wrote for Communication Director magazine in 2012. Taking responsibility to self-direct your learning will help you steer your WorkLife through times of uncertainty and times of certainty. 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside.

How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force 

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking  

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself 

You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

Carmel O' Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.