Any ideas how I can deal better with peer interviews?

When interviewing I always try to come across as having the necessary skills, friendly, etc. I work in business, in an area in which skills are to some extent subjective, you can't test them with e.g. a coding exercise, although tests (maths, verbal reasoning) are normally part of the process. It's very important to "sell yourself" right.

I used to find this difficult. In the last years, however, I've managed to master interviewing with HR and hiring managers. The feedback I receive is normally very good and if after sending the application I get invited I "pass" the huge majority of the interviews and normally manage to get to last stages (I live in a country where frequently 3-6 rounds of interviews are organized). Usually I find it easy to establish a good connection with hiring managers and the conversation flows naturally. I normally find it easy to "speak their language".

The problems are peer interviews. What I mean are 1:1s or panels of possible coworkers.

I frequently get rejected if this is part of the process. I also find it much more difficult to find a connection here. They seem much more critical of me.

My first idea was to focus less on my skills and more on being a good, friendly coworker, but this doesn't seem to help. My impression is these people are more focused on whether I could become their bf and I'm probably not socially attractive enough for people to want to become my best buddy immediately.

The fact that I normally have a bit different background than their background doesn't help.

How to deal with peer interviews better? What factors are playing a role here?

  • @JoeStrazzere. I'm not. But at this point I don't have other hypotheses.
    – user53252
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 12:10
  • Will you please explain your understanding of "peer interviews"? Who participates (managers, engineers, HR...)? Give examples of questions and answers, and any other information which helps us understand what you actually mean.
    – virolino
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 13:04
  • what jobs are you interviewing for ?
    – PeterH
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 13:55
  • Interview for jobs without peer interviews.
    – guest
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 15:29
  • 1
    It's really hard to tell. Can you explain what happened in the peer interviews? What are you discussing? Personal interests, background, or technical things? There are various scenarios. 1. They don't think they'd get along with you/aren't their kind of person/don't fit office culture 2. They have a better idea of the technical/skills requirements than the managers/HR and think you can't do the job 3. Your interpersonal skills are lacking.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


Based on your question and the information provided, get feedback from someone who's willing to be brutally honest with you. This feedback should include:

  • How knowledgeable you are in your field.
  • Your personality, ability to hold conversation, how interesting you are as a person.
  • Your appearance, hygiene, etc. In some fields this doesn't matter, most people don't want a smelly, grungy coworker.

Based on this feedback you'll know where to improve yourself to better your chances of progressing through the interview process.

This exercise can be insightful, but at the same time has the potential to be demoralizing. Go into it with an open mind and willingness to change you as a person to get the kind of job you want.

  • This is certainly valid, but the OP needs to think about what is happening in the interview so you can work out what's relevant. Examples: if the peer interview is discussing flavors of linux vs talking about how much beer you can drink.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 16:43

I frequently get rejected if this is part of the process. I also find it much more difficult to find a connection here. They seem much more critical of me.

Hiring managers and your peers evaluate candidates in different ways. Manager interviews tend to be more high level (further from the code) than your peers. They focus more on your soft skills (e.g. how well you communicate technical ideas to non-technical people) and how easy it would be to manage you (e.g. are you independent and take directions?).

Peers tend to focus more on whether you're a team player and will contribute fairly to the team. You have to unapologetically weed out the candidates that are big talkers and can't do the actual task at hand. But on the flip side of that, peers are disincentivize to hire someone more capable than they are. In other words, peers may selfishly hire someone that doesn't threaten their knowledge, but isn't so bad as to be complete dead weight.

It really could be anything. I've passed on a candidate purely on his inability to take input from others even though his other skills matched what we were looking for. I've passed another candidate even though he could design large software systems and algorithms, but couldn't implement a solution at all.

I try not to read too much into interviews anymore. I try putting myself in the interviewer's shoes and see how I would've have evaluated my own performance with brutal honesty. Then I move on.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .