Interviewing peer supporters

Interviewing peer supporters

Panel members

When selecting candidates for the role, it is preferable not to over-staff the interview panel. The students engaging in these positions are being hired to work amongst other campus staff members, which is an intimidating endeavour in itself. Ensuring that the interview process is not emphasizing these inherent power dynamics is recommended. One way of accomplishing this is to include a peer amongst the interview panel or involve a student who could possibly receive services. Having potential service users identify which peer supporters they would feel comfortable engaging with is a great way of ensuring successful candidates are going to resonate with the student population.

Candidate qualities


Lived experience

It is important to hire peer supporters who identify with mental health experiences that are reflective of the experiences of the student population. Often it may be tempting to select a candidate that demonstrates a high proficiency in communication and interpersonal skills, or a strong demonstration of professionalism and accountability. While these traits are vital in the role of peer supporter, the quality most essential to the role is lived experience. This experience will ensure the students in need of support are assisted by individuals who can directly relate to what they are going through.



It is also essential that individuals can:

  • Uphold commitment to participants and the role
  • Commit to training, supervision and team meetings
  • Maintain strong personal and professional boundaries with the participants they are supporting and their colleagues

It is likely that peer supporters will interact with the participants they are supporting in various settings around campus. Therefore, upholding professional boundaries, maintaining participant confidentiality and engaging in critical thinking practices when navigating these situations will be essential for the success of the program. For these reasons, ensuring the candidates selected for these positions have a demonstrated sense of professionalism is necessary.


Self-management and self-awareness

Peer supporters who have lived experience, but are now in a place where they can provide support to others who are struggling, should have a high level of self-awareness. This awareness includes having a strong understanding of exactly what was helpful throughout their recovery, what they are like when they are well and what the warning signs are when things are getting off track. This strong self- awareness will be vital in ensuring they can recognize when their wellness is being impacted and they need to take a step back. Furthermore, expertise in using self-care practices will help them maintain personal wellness while stepping into the role of support provider.


Peer Support Canada competencies[1]Peer Supporter Competencies – Peer Support Canada

Peer Support Canada also has a list of competencies they have deemed essential for the role of peer supporter. These competencies are a fantastic guideline to utilize when engaging in the screening and hiring process. This document can also be referred when engaging in ongoing training and supervision, when constructive feedback needs to be shared, and when peer supporters need to be spoken to about their performance in the role.

Please refer to Appendix D: Interview questions to ask to get ideas of questions to ask to your prospective peer supporters during the interview process..

Guide: PDF Version