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Inside Sales Hiring: Using Peer Interviews

by Matt Bertuzzi on Thu, Sep 25, 2008

Peer interviewing is an integral part of the Inside Sales hiring process. It is extremely valuable to have candidates meet with current employees (in similar or complimentary roles) to gain not only a more complete idea of a candidate's overall fit, but also for them to get a sense for the team they will be working with. Or so it goes in theory....

However, unless well thought out, peer interviewing can involve a lot of less-than-productive time, devolve because of personal agendas and generally muddy the waters.

Here are some Do's & Don'ts for peer-to-peer interviewing:

DON'Ts

  • DON'T use a rotating cast when interviewing for a single position. How can you ask someone to compare Candidate A & Candidate B if they have not met with them both?

  • DON'T gather feedback via email. Email is far too unstructured and impressions are generally off the cuff. A better plan is to consistently use a candidate evaluation form.

  • DON'T do group interviews. Sure it's great if a new hire already knows everyone on their first day, but good interviewing takes time. Keep the peers interviews to 1 or 2 people and select people that are relevant and have good interviewing skills.

    Not sure if they have good skills? Sit in and listen to how they interview.

DO's

  • DO create an "interview team" that participates in the hiring process for a specific role from start to finish. Feedback from peer interviews is really only effective when you are comparing the impressions of the same people for multiple candidates.

  • DO make the interviewers aware of the specific attributes you are looking for. Before you begin the interview process, you should define the skills you are looking for very specifically. For example: "understands and can articulate technical concepts", "asks great questions", "great command of language and grammar", etc.

  • DO gather quantitative data. On your candidate evaluation form, ask specific rating questions (e.g. "On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate Candidate A's ability to articulate technical concepts? Where 1 = Far Below Requirements & 5 = Far Above Requirements). "Good skills" means almost nothing when there's no yardstick for measuring.

Avoiding these Don'ts and focusing on these Do's will go a long way to making your peer interview process repeatable, scalable and most importantly valuable.

Quick note: it is a good idea to make sure the reps doing the interviewing are at least familiar with hiring law.
True story: I was in on a peer interview where someone asked:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Are you going to have kids in the next few years?

What has been successful when you use peer interviews as part of your process?

Photo by Stitch.

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