Should you introduce peer interviewing? MONDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2016

Peer interviewing is a relatively new concept, often used by small companies in order to screen applicants for jobs. However proving to be quite successful for SMEs, the idea has caught the attention of a whole host of large organisations, and is now making waves in the recruitment industry. But what exactly is peer interviewing, and how can it be used to benefit your business?

What is peer interviewing?
Peer interviewing – also known as peer-to-peer interviewing – is a process where potential candidates meet one-on-one with your current employees. Giving candidates the opportunity to ask the employee questions about the company and role, they are able to get a feel for the environment and whether it is right for them. Likewise, the employee can size up the applicant and feedback to their boss on whether or not they think they’d be a good fit for the company.

What are the benefits?
Interviews can strike terror into people’s minds. Even the most confident, capable candidate can experience bouts of the shakes, perspiration and mind fog when it comes to traditional interviews. Peer interviews create an altogether more relaxed environment, allowing candidates’ personalities and skills to shine through. This allows organisations to get a better sense of who their candidates are, assess their experience and figure out how they'll fit into the role and company.

As current employees help to select their future colleagues, peer interviews can help existing employees feel more valued as part of the business. Having a say in the recruitment process is generally good for morale, which then translates into increased productivity by strengthening employees’ commitment and making them feel less like a ‘cog’ in the employment ‘wheel’.

Peer interviews can help encourage good employee relationships. As they’ll have already met at the interview process and had a say on hiring them, when they come into the office they’ll already have an established relationship that they can build on.

Unlike traditional interviews where questions from the interviewee can often get missed or forgotten, the more relaxed atmosphere gives the employee more opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the company from current employees who are more likely to be truthful and speak from experience at their level. It also provides an invaluable opportunity for employees to see the team structure and discover any potential growth or promotional opportunities first-hand.

Are there any downsides?
Although the benefits generally outweigh the negatives, there are a few things to consider before implementing the unique interviewing process.

Don’t forget that as well as providing your employees to vet potential employees, you will also open up your company to the candidate. Hopefully they will like what they see, however sometimes they may not, and there’s no formal setting in which to discuss their concerns. You also have to make sure that the employees who are ‘interviewing’ them are trustworthy, as personal agendas can sometimes come into play.

If you wish to take on this approach to interviewing, it’s always worth conducting interview training beforehand to make sure they’re aware of the types of questions that need to be asked – as well as the ones that are off-limits. However, providing employees are chosen carefully, peer interviewing can prove to be an incredibly positive step forward in the recruitment process.

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