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The Ins and Outs of Job Simulations

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Determining how a candidate will perform in an open position is an inexact science. The interview process can reveal patterns in behavior, but often responses tend to be as predictable as the questions. Standardized personality tests have limitations when it comes to gauging character and how an individual will react under pressure. References from former employers can be unreliable and offer only cursory information about past performance.

Because many of today’s positions require technological skill as well as human interaction, it’s a challenge to evaluate a candidate’s true abilities. Increasingly, companies are turning to job simulations to help them select the best fit for a position. Replicating the conditions they will be exposed to when they are on the job can demonstrate abilities that are not apparent by using traditional testing methods. If you are considering using job simulations, these are guidelines for implementing them.

Juggling Priorities

Multi-tasking is an increasingly valuable tool in the present day workplace, and everyone from receptionists to managers must be able to “have a few balls in the air” at one time. Prioritizing tasks is a prized ability that comes under the umbrella of multi-tasking. One effective job simulation is to present a candidate with various tasks to evaluate their ability to prioritize them. For example, you can stage a scenario for a receptionist where they are charged with answering phones, making copies and responding to a newly arrived guest. Monitor how they handle the flurry of activity and organize these duties under pressure. Assess their comprehension of your company’s priorities and what is expected of them.

Working Well With Others

Often, candidates describe themselves as team players in interviews, but a new hire that doesn’t work well with others usually doesn’t work out. Simulations that put people into group situations allow you to observe how the candidate interacts. Gauge their ability to listen to others and to clearly communicate their goals. Do they have an understanding of your company’s technical knowledge, and, more importantly, can they share it? How do they react when they are met with opposition? The group situation gives you a glimpse into how a candidate will deal with co-workers.

Taking Charge

Sometimes candidates impress in interviews, but fail to deliver once they are in a position of authority. A simulation can give you a sense of their ability to manage themselves and others. Put the candidate in charge and gauge their ability to issue written and oral directives? Do they have an air of confidence and authority or do they seem in over their head? Delegating is an essential part of being in charge. Can the candidate articulate a goal and rally members of a team to work toward that goal?

Whether you are simulating hard skills tasks such as inputting data or soft skills like working with others, job simulations can save you time and money. When simulations are properly devised and implemented, they can be a useful tool for identifying candidates most likely to succeed.

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