Peer interviewing is the process of allowing potential co-workers to interview a prospective new hire. The pressure is on employers to get it right first time in the hiring process, so what better way than allowing potential future colleagues to offer their assessment of whether the candidate will be the right fit for their brand?
Today, things are changing. In a candidate driven market, the peer interview isn’t all about the employer. For a jobseeker, they offer invaluable insight into a company’s culture to allow individuals to assess whether accepting a job offer would be the right move.
The next time you’re invited to a peer interview, turn it to your advantage with the following tips:
Watch and listen: The chance to simply sit and observe your surroundings on a typical ‘day in the office’ will give you a sense of the overall culture. If it’s a Monday morning, are people happy at the start of the working week? Is there interaction and banter between colleagues? Is the office a jovial, relaxed environment, loud or quiet? If it’s late in the day, do employees leave at 5pm sharp or stay around to chat to colleagues? Are lunch breaks taken or worked through at the desk?
The look: Is the office open plan or a series of separate closed off offices? The office layout gives you an indication of the relationship between company leadership and its employees. Which would suit your particular style of working best?
Ask specific questions: Take advantage of your peer interview to ask pertinent questions relevant to the role and the company. Find out how long your interviewer has been working there and what makes them loyal to the employer. Ask about turnover – when did the last team member leave and why? Knowing what they know now would they still accept a job offer from this company? What opportunities exist for career progression? If you know the identity of your peer interviewer in advance check out their background via their LinkedIn profiles and prepare specific questions related to their career path to that organization.
Find out more about the company: Ask questions such as, did the company struggle to survive during the recession? Is there any out-of-office social engagement between employees? How does the company handle change? Is the leadership stable? How do the managers recognize outstanding contributions above and beyond the job description? What are the company’s values and what is its core vision? What involvement does it have in the local community? The answers (or lack of) can be revealing.
Check out their body language: Slumped shoulders, defensive postures and colleagues who refuse to make eye contact indicate a negative company culture. On the other hand, smiling, open employees who respond easily to questions indicates a positive working environment. If you sense discomfort or your interviewer is distracted by their computer screen and what’s going on around them there’s a problem.
Be honest: Can you see yourself working in this environment? Is it easy to establish rapport with your interviewer? The peer interview is the best chance you will have during the hiring process to accurately evaluate what it’s like to work for this organization. If it’s not right for you, write down the reasons why and adjust your job search accordingly. This is your career, make the move to a company that meets your aspirations.