What Is a Peer Interview?

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Posted by: David Garcia May 04, 2024

A peer interview is a good tool to assess your candidate. These can be conducted formally or informally and indicate whether or not the new candidate will fit into your already established team. Peer interviews also work two-fold: by testing your new candidate and also by helping to hone the interview skills (among other skills) of the other, already established team members. 

Peer interviews are great for opening up new avenues of thought, allowing other employees to have their voice heard during the interview process, and gaining useful insight on all sides: peer interviewing, the candidate learning about the hierarchy and how it behaves, and the employer seeing first-hand the adaptability of their team.

What Are Peer Interviews?

Peer interviews are stages of the application process hosted by established company employees rather than a hiring manager, supervisor, or HR representative. They’re often conducted by an employee of a similar status to the candidate’s role with similar material to a “normal” interview, though they can be more informal at the discretion of each company.

What Is the Purpose of a Peer Interview?

Peer interviews are great for testing how well a candidate will respond to those they’ll be working with and how they react to an unusual style of interviewing during the application process. This gives the established team a better chance at having their voices heard when a newcomer is entering the workplace and a chance at seeing if they “gel” together. 

As well as this, peer interviews are a great tool for the established team to work on their interviewing skills, seeing if they’re fit for promotions or other upskilling.

Advantages of a Peer Interview

There are many advantages to utilizing peer interviews during the application process. Some of these include:

Multiple Perspectives of a Candidate

Utilizing a peer interview during your recruitment process gives a greater chance of having more people assess your candidate before anything is made official. This is a great way to have them meet the team and see how the professional relationship will develop. It’s also an ideal way to get more than one opinion on a candidate.

Applicants Learn More About Your Organization

The individual applying will also get the chance to learn more about your business by the way the interview process is done. Typically, most people expect a one-on-one interview, a phone or video interview, or a group or panel interview when applying for a job. 

The “curveball” of a peer interview is an excellent way for the candidate to learn that management values the opinions of those at other levels rather than leaving hiring work to supervisors, HR members, or hiring managers only.

Better Team Environment

Peer interviews help to bolster the overall team environment – it’s a great way to introduce new hires to those they’ll soon be very familiar with, allowing them to recognize a friendly face or two on their first day on the job.

More Insight into a Candidate

Since peer interviews are not typically part of a hiring process, the surprise may lead to some useful insight into how the candidate handles obstacles they may have been unprepared for.

Disadvantages of a Peer Interview

It’s also worth considering the disadvantages of peer interviews during the application process. Some disadvantages include:


It can be time-consuming to organize a peer interview for each party involved. It may be difficult or frustrating for the candidate to go through too many rounds of interviews – especially if they don’t get the position in the end.

Similarly, it may be challenging to find the time to pull existing team members away from their current workload in order to conduct a peer interview.

Employee Bias

During a peer interview, employees selected to conduct the interview may feel that their own position is under threat or subject to change. This could lead to an unfair interview process for the candidate if, for example, the employee leading the interview asks overly difficult or irrelevant questions rather than focusing on why the candidate is applying for the job and the prospects they bring to the table.

Frightening Off the Candidate

Since peer interviews aren’t typically standard for an application process, undertaking one may frighten a candidate – especially if they weren’t forewarned that it would be happening. 

Most application processes use different types of interviews at each stage – such as a phone or video interview early on and one-on-one or group interviews at later stages. 

A sudden peer interview can throw a candidate off – they could assume that since someone with management status in the company isn’t interviewing them, they may have already lost their ground in the process, leading to a lack of self-belief or poor performance.

Common Questions in a Peer Interview

Most interviews come with expected questions to assess whether or not a candidate is a team fit, has the right skill set, qualifications, or mindset, or has goals for their career. A peer interview can also utilize these same questions that one may receive in a one-to-one interview, such as:

  • How do you respond in a team setting? What’s the best way to navigate conflicts within a team?
  • Can you give an example of when you were in a leadership role and how this affected the project?
  • What kind of projects have you worked on in the past? Are they relevant to the kind of work we do here? If yes, how so?
  • How do you adapt your communication style when working with different colleagues or on different projects? Can you give an example?
  • How do you prioritize your workload?
  • What motivates you to work in this field? What made you want to work with us?
  • How do you approach giving and receiving feedback?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years? How does this job align with your career goals?
  • What skills do you bring to the team?
  • What do you hope to learn from working in this role?

What Not To Say in a Peer Interview

Most interviewers are willing to give the benefit of the doubt; it’s completely normal to be nervous and misspeak during an interview. If anything, nerves mean that the interview really means something to the candidate and that they genuinely want to do well. However, there are some topics that it’s worth actively avoiding. This includes:

  • Excessive negative talk about the company being interviewed with.
  • Praising any competitors of the company.
  • Use of inappropriate language, jokes, questions, or topics.
  • Coming across as overconfident. Confidence is key in many areas of life, but overstepping into being cocky can be damaging, especially if it comes off as rude.
  • Lack of preparation. A candidate should prepare some questions for interviewers to show research and interest.
  • Oversharing personal information.
  • Overexaggerating qualifications. If discovered, it can damage the trust between the candidate and the employer.
  • Refusal to take responsibility for mistakes. For example, if a candidate is asked about their biggest weakness in a work setting, saying that they have no weaknesses shows a lack of accountability and critical thinking about their actions.
  • Close-mindedness. Any new job comes with a learning curve, which should be welcomed with open arms. Unwillingness to learn can come off negatively and damage any chance of success.
  • Criticizing past or current employers. This may show a lack of responsibility or make someone seem like a negative presence in a working environment.

How To Conduct a Peer Interview

Interviewing someone can be nerve-wracking, especially for a peer interviewer who may not be used to conducting interviews. ScoutLogic offers a guide with tips on interviewing. 

Ultimately, it’s essential to be calm, polite, and firm. It’s best to inform the chosen candidate beforehand, allowing them time to prepare any questions or topics.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Is a Peer Interview? 

All interviews vary in length, depending on factors such as the number of interviewees that day, how many interviewers are available, or the content being discussed. This is especially true if the candidate prepares questions for the interviewer. However, most interviews, peer or otherwise, typically range from thirty minutes to one hour.

Are Peer Interviews Hard?

Peer interviews are similar to any other interview during an application process. Their difficulty level can depend on both the candidate and interviewer and whether or not the established employee has been encouraged to be more formal or informal. There’s no clear-cut way to define the difficulty of interviews, as each one is different and presents its own unique challenges.

Does a Peer Interview Mean You Got the Job?

Not necessarily. A peer interview is a step in the application process. While it may be far down the line, it isn’t guaranteed to secure the job, especially if there are other candidates of equal or greater quality.

Final Thoughts

There are many upsides and downsides to utilizing peer interviews during the application process. The interview process can be a long and arduous road, and including a peer interview in the midst is a great way to get a more comprehensive view of the candidate without the shadow of a supervisor falling over them. 

There are plenty of ways to find out more about which candidate is most suitable, such as ScoutLogic’s background checks and other interview guides. We’re here to help businesses streamline the recruitment process and find the right employees for their culture. 

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