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My organization is hiring a staff development specialist and I'm in charge of filling the position. How do I know whether an internal candidate would be best for the job, or if I someone new should be hired?

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When screening candidates for staff development vacancies, start by determining the level of expertise and the qualifications you are looking for. You may want to choose a candidate who has demonstrated a true love and aptitude for education. Perhaps you are limited by the money allotted for the position and need to select an advanced beginner instead of the competent or proficient practitioner that would have been ideal. Use this as a basis for choosing the best candidate for your department and your organization.

One advantage to using an internal candidate is that he or she knows and understands the organizational culture, policies and procedures, and expectations. The staff development manager has had a chance to observe the internal candidate in his or her work setting. However, it’s important to consider that hiring an internal candidate creates an open position in his or her former unit that will need to be filled, and sometimes internal candidates are only hired into a new role because the hiring manager feels pressured.

There are instances where bringing in someone new can be more beneficial. External candidates are more likely to bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to the organization, and are not caught up in organizational politics. External candidates are not too entrenched in organizational culture to be change-makers like some internal candidates might be, but they do require more time to learn organizational policies and procedures, and staff development members have not had the chance to assess the candidate’s educational skills in the actual work setting.

Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

(September 2010)