How to Conduct a Peer Interview

A team conducts a peer interview.

It can be frustrating (and costly) when you hire the wrong fit. This often happens when hiring managers have a limited understanding of the position and what the team truly needs. This is also why some managers take the time to set up and conduct a peer interview.

When peer interviews are successful, they ensure that the person you hire is not only qualified to do the work but also has the professional values you need. Here’s how to conduct these interviews.

What Is a Peer Interview?

Most business owners rely on a handful of interviewers to vet candidates and make hiring decisions. While these people are typically hiring managers and HR personnel, a peer interview is conducted by people on their level whom they’d work with closely. It increases the likelihood that candidates will feel more comfortable asking peers about what it’s like to work at the company, pros and cons of the role, and other direct questions. Because the candidates’ peers have a clear understanding of the position and company, involving them in the interview process helps managers make better hiring decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Peer interviews are team-building activities that grow stronger professional relationships and provide several benefits. They can help you:

  • Find a better fit: Not only will your employees be able to vet their own coworkers, but the candidates will see whether the team and organization work for them too.
  • Boost team morale: When your team has a hand in choosing the people they work with, it can get them excited to bring the person on board. You’re also seeking their opinion and involving them in the process, which can make them feel valued.
  • Conduct a genuine interview: When candidates only meet with the decision-makers, they often feel intimidated or like they need to “play a part.” However, when they are interviewed by peers, they’re often able to relax and be themselves more.
  • Consider another perspective: It’s beneficial to have multiple decision-makers weigh in on each hire. It’s helpful to hear from the candidate’s prospective peers because they understand the responsibilities, requirements, and team dynamic and can assess whether a candidate fits the bill.
  • Give candidates realistic expectations: When employees who better understand the role can answer questions about it, candidates have a deeper understanding of the team’s needs. This helps them form realistic expectations of the day-to-day work, which can help candidates make an informed decision and increase employee satisfaction, morale, and retention.

How to Conduct Peer Interviews

Peer interviews shouldn’t be a heavy lift for your team. You want the peer interview process to be quick and easy no matter who is conducting the interview. To create a simple interviewing process you can follow each time, you will need to:

  1. Get your team on the same page about job description.
  2. Review interview best practices.
  3. Plan your interview format, structure, and number of rounds.
  4. Determine which questions you’ll ask and why.
  5. Create a system for evaluating candidates.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want your candidate to be interviewed by everyone under the sun. You should select one or two interviewers in addition to the hiring manager and an HR representative. Ideally, they will be the team members working with the candidate most.

1. Get Your Team on the Same Page

The first step to an effective hiring process is writing a well-crafted job description that clearly explains the responsibilities and necessary and preferred requirements. It’s helpful to have all the interviewers “sign off” on the job description so they can determine whether candidates are qualified for the job. Your team can also use the job description to brainstorm interview questions.

2. Review Interview Best Practices

When interviewing candidates, it helps to refresh yourself on the basics — especially if you and your team members have little interviewing experience. These include how to:

  • Develop legal interview questions and avoid illegal interview questions.
  • Interpret communication and body language.
  • Build rapport and make the candidate comfortable.
  • Listen intently and ask effective follow-up questions.
  • Evaluate candidates objectively.

You might also want to develop talking points about the position, department, and company history. This way, you and your team can walk into the interview feeling confident in your ability to answer the candidate’s questions, no matter what they might be.

3. Plan Your Interview Format and Structure

Next, you want to plan the format and structure of your peer interview. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Will you be interviewing the candidate via phone, video, or in person?
  • How will you kick the interview off? For example, will you start with a quick intro about the company or yourself?
  • Do you have something planned to get the candidate relaxed, such as a bit of casual conversation before jumping into questions?
  • What grading system will you use to measure fit?

This will help you keep the interview process and your candidate evaluation consistent.

4. Determine Which Questions You’ll Ask and Why

Lastly, list out all the interview questions you’re going to ask candidates and know why you’re asking them. This will help you form a set of questions that dig into a variety of hard and soft skills, which is useful for getting a well-rounded view of what it might be like to work with the candidate.

Here are some examples:

  1. Can you tell me about yourself?
  2. What type of work environment do you enjoy?
  3. What would you do if you couldn’t figure something out on your own?
  4. When you think of the ideal team, what does that look like to you?
  5. What qualities do you look for in your coworkers?
  6. Describe one time your team worked on a project that didn’t go as planned. What happened and what did you do?

Add Another Great Coworker to Your Team

Now that you know how to conduct a peer interview, you can feel confident in your ability to recognize your next incredible coworker. Get started hunting for great-fit candidates with a free job posting at Monster.