Peer to Peer Interviews – a quick guide

We are often asked by our clients about interview process, and we are always happy to advise and guide them where possible. The truth is that the best process for your firm will be governed by your culture, your structure and the practical constraints involved; but as a rule of thumb we encourage a 3-stage process.

1. The informal ‘Cup of coffee’ meeting (initial chat to check initial suitability)

2. Competency based formal interview (can they do the job?)

3. Final assessment of ‘fit’ and an opportunity to finalise details

For the 3rd interview we suggest it’s a clever idea to expose the prospective employee to the environment they will be working in as well as involving some of the wider team in the process.

By the time you get to a 3rd meeting with a candidate you are generally fairly secure that the candidate can a) do the job and b) wants the job.  You are fairly sure of proceeding, but want to just ‘Dot the I’s and cross the T’s’. This final meeting can serve to flesh out the final details of the role, neotiate any further details of remuneration package, and to provide an opportunity for the potential employee to gain exposure to the working environment and wider team.

Cultural Fit is congruence with an organisations culture. Every practice has its own unique culture, the environment you have created for the employees in your workplace, made up of the values, beliefs, and underlying aspirations shared by all.

​What happens when Cultural Fit goes wrong?
You ideally want to hire only candidates whose belief and behaviour systems appear congruent with your organisational culture. Without the right fit an employee is likely to feel alienated from the rest of the organisation and become unhappy over time.

In fact, a shocking 89% of hiring failures come down to a mismatch of cultural fit.

​Meeting the team
You are sure that the employee has the right skills and experience for the job, but will they fit?  Often the best way to find out is to allow a selection of the wider team to conduct this final meeting.

Peer to peer interviewing is a fantastic way to incorporate the opinions of your team in your decision-making process.

​Points to consider:
​Who? 
Try to choose a good cross section of individuals, 2 or 3 people who can facilitate this final meeting with confidence, but with slightly different roles. The reason that meeting with other individuals in the organisation is important largely comes down to perspective. Individuals whose day to day job is markedly different to yours will give a different view of the organisation, nay be able to give a more accurate idea of what the role is like on a day to day basis. They may think of questions to ask which you wouldn’t.

Be mindful to only use team members who are happy and secure in their own role. Remember this is a two-way street, the candidate is assessing the organisation as much as you are assessing them.

Look for diversity in age, race, sex, but also look for differences in thought, geography, and maturity.

Make it clear that while employees’ feedback will be taken into high regard, HR and management still make the final decision.

​Structure 
This should be a relaxed an informal meeting. The last thing you want at this stage is the candidate feeling like they are being interrogated. Keeping the conversation to around 30 minutes is a good guideline, and the format should be a free flowing 2-way conversation, rather than a barrage of questions. Allow 15-20 minutes for a tour of the office, and 5-10 minutes back with you to ‘sum up’.

Briefing
Take time to carefully brief the individuals you chose. Ensure they understand both the background of the candidate, their aspirations and the scope of the role that they are going to be fulfilling. It’s really important that the people meeting with the candidate have a context to the discussion. It’s essential to make sure that the individuals undertaking the meeting understand what subjects and questions they should avoid from a legal standpoint.

It’s useful, if possible, to create an evaluation form in advance which includes a list of the top 10 ‘behaviours’ and ‘values’ which are required for the role. Examples may be Adaptability, Resilience, Creativity, Teamwork, confidentiality, and so on. Adapt a quantitative approach by using a rating scale (between 1 and 10). Employees should grade the applicant on how they think the candidate measured on each of these key values or behaviours.

This will not only give the ‘interviewers’ a framework with which to build their discussion, but will avoid them going to heavily down the ‘capability’ route and repeating what you have already covered.

Questions should start with ‘Tell me about a situation when… ‘, ‘What would you do if this happened….’ The idea is to get a relaxed conversation going involving real life examples.

​Morale
This a great morale exercise. Employee involved in the selection process for peers is good for morale and productivity; employees feel they have more of a stake in the organization. All this strengthens workers’ commitment to the Practice and builds on an inclusive atmosphere, in which peoples’ opinions do matter.  It not only gives the right impression internally, but helps the potential employee see how the firm strives to empower its employees.

​Social
Whether your Practice has a hugely vibrant social calendar, or you like to have lunch at the pub once a month. Maybe you are all fit and active? It’s a good idea to get this across at this stage, as it’s a big part of cultural fit. You’re Managers and other team members are the best people to portray this accurately.

​Openess
Applicants are more likely to let their guard down with peers, so the organization will get a better sense of who their candidates are and how they’ll fit. It will also give them an opportunity to ask questions that they may have felt uncomfortable asking you in a more formal setting.

​Environment
It’s a good juncture now to give the potential employee a tour of the office, so that they can get a good feel for the environment in which they will be working. Again, make sure that you brief the wider team regarding who the potential new employee is. Allow with them to gain some access to their future peers and to be able to converse in a ‘structured’ way with a selection of people.

​The Close
Whilst you have allowed other members of the team to conduct the meeting, it’s sensible for you to be the person to ‘close the meeting’. Make sure that you allow the candidate to ask questions and finalise their thoughts. You need to be sure by the end of this meeting that they fully understand the scope of the role and that you are in agreement about the Remuneration package. Try a ‘test close’ at the end of the meeting, to ensure that they will accept any formal offer you will put forward.

If you would like bespoke advice on the talent attraction, retention or interviewing processes within your practice call us on 0333 577 7787 or email info@publicpracticerecruitment.co.uk to arrange a discussion regarding your specific circumstances.

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