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What is a Peer Interview and How to Ace it?

peer interview

What kind of people will I work with? This is a question many job seekers ask in their heads when interviewing for a new position. After all, you’d be spending 8+ hours per day around those folk, so they’d better be good! A peer interview gives you an opportunity to speak directly to your possible colleagues and impress them with your skills. 

What is a Peer Interview?

In a peer interview, a candidate speaks with their future coworkers rather than only HR and their direct supervisor. The purpose of a peer interview is to help the team determine whether they’d be comfortable with the new hire. It also helps HRs prevent biased hiring decisions, based solely on the opinion of one manager, rather than the group. 

Typically, a peer interview is scheduled after other types of job interviews such as preliminary screening interviews, second manager interviews, and/or technical interviews. If you’ve been invited to a peer interview, the employer seriously considers hiring you. So if you got this call, it’s definitely a good sign. 

While your peer interviewer(s) will likely want to learn about your personality and background, they will also ask questions to assess your core competencies and test your technical skills. 

For example, Google assembles hiring committees that:

  • Have 4-5 members with prior interviewing experience. The members include peers and managers at various levels plus one cross-functional member.
  • Review the candidate’s application package ahead of the meeting — resume, cover letter, earlier interview feedback, internal references, and recruiter notes. 
  • Hold a consensus vote on each candidate to decide on hiring and provide detailed feedback to the candidate afterward. 

Other big employers like Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft practice a similar approach — and so do smaller startups. 

How to Prepare For a Peer Interview: 4 Pro Tips

Peer interviews are similar to panel interviews. But peer interviewing has a less perfunctory “flavor”. The tone and pace of conversation are faster, friendlier, and more action-oriented. 

Still, it doesn’t mean you should treat a peer interview as a casual chit-chat — you should come well-prepared. This set of tips should help you ace your game!  

1. Practice Common Peer Interview Questions 

Peer interviews often start with general “ice breakers” such as a quick request to “tell more about yourself”, talk about “why you are interested in this position”, and the like. 

Onward, several scenarios are possible depending on your role. The peer group may either focus on assessing your main technical skills — give some test project or problem-solving tasks. Or if you already did a separate technical interview, probe you with some behavioral interview questions

how to prepare for a panel interview

While the exact set of questions differs from one company to another, here are some general peer interview questions to expect:

  1. Do you have a preferred communication/management style?
  2. What type of work environment do you most enjoy?
  3. Are you comfortable with async/remote work?
  4. How would you describe yourself in five words?
  5. What are your biggest strengths as a group player?
  6. What attracted you to this role?
  7. Are you comfortable with working in a multi-generational team? 
  8. What motivates you to do your best work? 
  9. How do you handle conflicts at the workplace? 
  10. How will you add value to the current team? Please provide an example 
  11. How well do you adapt to changes such as new policies?
  12. What makes a good team player in your opinion? 

Need more options? Check other interviewing guides from our team!

2. Hone Your Main Value Proposition 

At this interviewing stage, your main goal is to persuade the team that not only you are a fine human being to deal with, but you can also deliver paramount value. In other words — become a reliable team asset.

To make your value prop too hard to pass on, do some background company research and analyze the earlier conversations with other interviewers. Try to understand what the company’s priority is at the moment and what impact you can deliver.

For example, if you are a marketing manager, analyze the company’s latest campaigns. Try to identify some gaps or overlooked opportunities. Or think about how you could help them improve on the current results by referencing your past projects and experiences. 

3. Try to Cultivate a “Connection” 

Remember: in peer interviews, every team member has their say during the vetting phase. So don’t just focus on impressing the most senior person present or someone else you view as a leader of the group. 

Be tactful and polite, chat up everyone present, and try to learn about their role, responsibilities, and communication preferences.  One way to do so is to figure out a common subject and pursue it to create a sense of camaraderie within the group. 

For example, as a software developer, you can spin a conversation around your favorite tools or programming language that both you and the team use a lot. 

4. Prepare Your Set of Questions 

Peer interviews also provide you with the opportunity to learn more about your future coworkers, the role, and the organization as a whole. So don’t miss your chance to do so at the end of the job interview.

Prepare 2-3 questions to ask your potential colleagues during a peer interview such as these: 

  • What made you personally choose this company? 
  • How would you describe the management’s leadership style?
  • Do you have extra training/upskilling programs? 
  • How do you usually deliver feedback?
  • Do you enjoy the company culture? 
  • What’s your biggest team strength? 
  • What was the team’s most successful accomplishment up-to-date?
  • Do you feel valued in this company?
  • For how long do people stay with your team on average? 

Final Thoughts 

Peer interviewing offers you an opportunity to chat with your future colleagues — take advantage of it! Be proactive and try to get as many nuggets of information you can to decide if this job is right for you. At the same time, put your best foot forward too! Don’t be shy to talk about your hard skills and place an extra emphasis on your interpersonal skills.

Author

  • Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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