People with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (PSz) have difficulty engaging in social interaction, but little research has focused on dialogues involving PSz interacting with partners who are unaware of their diagnosis. Using quantitative and qualitative methods on a unique corpus of triadic dialogues of PSz first social encounters, we show that turn-taking is disrupted in dialogues involving a PSz. Specifically, there are on average longer gaps between turns in groups which contain a PSz compared to those which do not, particularly when the speaker switch occurs from one control (C) participant to the other. Furthermore, the expected link between gesture and repair is not present in dialogues with a PSz, particularly for C participants interacting with a PSz. As well as offering some insights into how the presence of a PSz affects an interaction, our results also demonstrate the flexibility of our mechanisms for interaction. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘Face2face: advancing the science of social interaction’.