Designing Pair Interviews

In my Interview Candidates One-on-One post, Christian explained how he’d done some pair interviewing. The lead interviewer and the safety-net is one technique for pair interviewing. When two people, obviously a lead and a safety-net interview me, I tend to talk just to the lead and not to the other person. I don’t think I’m alone in that, so I prefer a pair interview of more equality (unless this is part of a colleague’s interview training).

When I create a pair interview with a colleague, first we define the areas we’re going to cover. We each develop several behavior-description questions for each area. (I frequently do this alone, because I use the pair interviewing as training.) We compare notes and see if we have overlapping questions. If so, we refine the questions (generally together). If we’re going to also perform an audition, we define the audition and try it out on someone other than ourselves. Laurent suggested an audition: Design your own hiring interview. That’s a great management audition, but unless technical people are going to be interviewing for a living, I don’t think it will tell you enough about how a person works.

Once we know the questions, we generally interleave our questions. Person 1 asks question 1. Person 2 asks question 2 and we continue alternating. If something arises that piques the non-questioner’s interest, that person can continue on that track.

When I pair interview like this, I’ve noticed that we have a deeper conversation and the interview sometimes takes turns we hadn’t anticipated. As long as both people take their time with the questions and allow the candidate time to think, this kind of pair interview technique can work well.If you try it, let me know if you had positive results too.

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