July 14, 2006 -- Dear READERS: Recently, I ran an e-mail from a reader criticizing the use of peer interviews at work. I got a ton of mail, most were against the practice. I've included a representative sample of the responses below.
"Peer interviews are a very bad idea. It is the prime example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing."
"Getting a job is like getting married, only that you get two or three dates, and do not get to meet your in-laws before. Peer interviewing offers candidates a chance to meet the in-laws before saying 'Yes.'"
"You cannot expect rank-and-file staff to hire superior help. If they are competent enough to recognize a superior applicant when one manifests, they will most likely be too insecure to recommend that person, favoring instead someone who will be more easily manipulated."
"Peer interviewing should be conducted in the presence of an HR professional. Debriefings should be conducted touching on the applicant and on the interview itself."
"I typically send only the final candidate on to a peer interview, as I am not looking for the interviewer to 'select' a candidate, but rather to 'confirm' the candidate who has been selected."
"I was asked to participate in a peer interview and to provide feedback for the hiring decision. It was not disclosed to us that our director had a prior friendship with the candidate. Three of us raised concerns about the finalist but were overruled. I am positive that this contributed to the new manager's decision to unilaterally fire me without consulting my client groups or doing any kind of performance review. She also 'constructively dismissed' another of my colleagues who had raised concerns."
"I truly believe that if companies really want to get qualified individuals that become into 'agents of change' the peer interviews scheme will deliver only 'good buddies' for golfing or partying and not for the good reasons you should be hired."
"No one wants to be the only one making a hiring decision. The more people involved via peer or panel type interviews, the better. This way if Bob or Betty is a dud, the hiring manager can say 'Hey, we all thought he or she was good.'"
"Peer interviews are awkward when there are internal candidates for a position."
"After many years of hiring and firing employees, I have come to the jaded conclusion that selecting the ideal employee is still a crap shoot. That being said, it certainly helps to have as much input on the process as possible."
"I'm big on leadership. Peer interviews are leadership in absentia. If you're interviewing a new hire, you're in a leadership role. As a leader, your role is to build and mould a team to get the job done. If you're letting your employees do this, step aside and let the leaders through."
"In the final analysis, this is just another tool. If used properly it can be wonderful. If it is put in the hands of the wrong people, well, someone could get hurt."
We'd like to hear your thoughts about peer interviews. I'll give an autographed copy of "Working Wounded: Advice that adds insight to injury" (Warner, 2000) to the best submission. Send your entry, name and address via: http://workingwounded.com or via e-mail: email@example.com. Entries must be received by Wednesday, July 19.
Online Ballot and Contest
Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCNews.com online ballot:
What do you think of peer interviews?
Since I've included so many samples above, there will be no winning strategy this week.
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Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. His newest best-seller, "Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide" (Wiley, 2004), is a business comic book that trades cynicism for solutions. Ask Bob a question: firstname.lastname@example.org or http://graymattersbook.com.
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This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.