How To Prepare For A Peer Interview

by | Interviewing

Effectively preparing for a peer interview can be a bit challenging, since companies vary significantly in how they utilize them in the hiring process.

Some companies leverage peer interviews as part of the formal interview process, while others offer them as an opportunity to simply learn more about the company from a current employee or two.

Regardless of the company’s approach to peer interviews, it’s good to be prepared and know what to expect.

What Is A Peer Interview?

A peer interview is a job interview between you and your potential future colleagues to determine whether you’re the best fit for the role.

A primary goal of peer interviews is for those who will be working with you on a regular basis to assess your leadership acumen, communication style, and collaboration abilities. Peer interviews are also an opportunity for you to learn more about the team and culture from people at the same level as you.

Peer interviews are commonly used in the tech industry to assess candidates who are interviewing for management and executive-level roles. These peer conversations prevent hiring decisions from existing in a silo, as they allow additional individuals beyond the hiring manager to be involved in the interview process, which is particularly important in cross-functional roles.

A peer interview may include conversations with people in your same department and function as well as cross-functional peers. If you’re interviewing for a product executive role, for instance, you might meet with fellow product leaders and/or cross-functional peers from departments like Engineering, Marketing, and Sales.

Does A Peer Interview Mean You Got The Job?

Landing a peer interview doesn’t necessarily mean you will be receiving a job offer.

Some companies will conduct peer conversations near the beginning of the interview process, often immediately following a recruiter screening call, while others will use it near the end of the interview process, with two or three final candidates.

You can always check in with the recruiter to confirm where you are in the interview process, as well as how many additional conversations are remaining before a hiring decision will be made.

[Read: How Long Does It Take To Hear Back After An Interview?” Answered]

What To Expect In A Peer Interview

During a peer interview, you will often meet with one or more potential future colleagues for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

After the interviewer tells you about themselves and their role, they will likely then ask you about yourself and your leadership and problem-solving skills, communication abilities, and approach to cross-functional collaboration

Depending on the interviewer’s style, you may be asked your general philosophy/approach, pointed situational questions, or a combination of the two.

The interview will likely conclude with you having an opportunity to ask the interviewer questions.

If you’re unsure what to expect during the peer interview, you can ask your recruiter what to anticipate and how to best prepare for the conversation.

Are Peer Interviews Hard?

The difficulty of your peer interview will depend on the company’s overall approach, as well as your specific interviewer.

Depending on the company’s hiring process, the peer interview may be part of the formal evaluation process, or merely an opportunity to hear from one or more current employees. As a result, some peer interviews will be more challenging, while others will feel more like a conversation, which is particularly true when targeting executive-level positions.

How To Prepare For A Peer Interview

Many of the same techniques you use to prepare for a standard job interview can be used when getting ready for a peer interview, including:

How To Prepare For A Peer Interview

You’ll also want to understand how the person this role will interact with you on the job. If the recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t give you insights into the interviewer and the high-level topics they plan to cover in the conversation, please don’t be afraid to ask.

How To Stand Out In A Peer Interview

Standing out in a peer interview can be a bit tricky since the goal of the conversation isn’t necessarily to have all the “right answers.” Rather, you want to give your prospective future colleagues a sense of what it will be like to work with you day-to-day. They’re likely asking themselves questions like:

  • Is this someone I will want to collaborate with on projects?
  • Can I see myself spending time in meetings with this individual?
  • How well does this person communicate their ideas?

Consequently, focusing on your executive presence and exuding confidence throughout your conversation can really help you stand out in a peer interview.

You can also really leave a mark during the conversation by asking the interviewer meaningful questions that demonstrate your thoughtfulness and genuine interest in the company and role.

What Questions To Ask In A Peer Interview As An Interviewee

Speaking of which, as an interviewee, you want to come to your peer interview with questions for your interviewer.

Instead of using questions you might find online, try to dive deeper and ask questions that genuinely pique your interest. In other words, what do you really want to know about the company and this position?

This line of thinking will likely lead you to ask questions about how your position will collaborate with the person you’re meeting with. You’ll likely also want to ask questions to learn more about the team dynamics and company culture.

Because some peer interviews tend to be less formal and more conversational, it’s good to have backup questions ready in case the interviewer doesn’t have many for you.

How Do You Know If A Peer Interview Went Well?

While not always the case, it can be a bit challenging to tell whether a peer interview went well, as they are often more conversational than a traditional job interview. That said, here are a few signs your peer interview likely went well:

  • They asked follow-up questions, rather than simply moving to their next question.
  • You went over the allotted time for your interview, so long as you weren’t rambling.
  • Your interviewer acted like you already worked there.

Signs A Peer Interview Went Well

Final Thoughts On Preparing For A Peer Interview

Like any job interview, a peer interview is a two-way conversation and an important opportunity to assess whether you can see yourself working at this company and with this individual.

Consequently, you want to spend adequate time preparing for the conversation and developing thoughtful questions that allow you to evaluate if this is the right opportunity for you. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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