Welcome to Talent Talk, a collection of thought leadership articles from industry experts in the recruitment and HR tech space.
Finding the right hire is a challenging task for any organization. With an influx of CVs pouring in for every open position, it’s nearly impossible and time-consuming to know who the suitable candidates are, even if they have the right experience.
More and more hiring stakeholders are now turning to job simulations to discover whether candidates have the skills and qualities needed to succeed on the job.
If you haven’t heard of job simulations before, it is an experience designed to mimic what the job would be like, which helps assess a candidate’s skills, qualities, and how they would show up in the role. Different types of job simulations can be used throughout the hiring process to evaluate specific aspects of candidates’ abilities in an objective, unbiased and measurable way.
To learn more about how job simulations are used by hiring stakeholders, we sat down with Leila Blauner, Founder & Team Growth Strategist at Scalability Solutions®.
Leila, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us when you started incorporating simulations into your hiring process?
I began incorporating it for my hires almost 15-20 years ago. I made some hiring mistakes bringing people onto my team who had ideal experience and were great culture fits but lacked core qualities needed for the job, such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, soft skills, etc.
I knew there had to be a better way. So I began designing mock work experiences for candidates to get to know each other better.
Why are job simulations important for organizations?
A simulation allows you to see how the candidate might show up on the job. You can also see their critical thinking on the spot, leadership style, general attitude, how they prioritize, speed, attention to detail, etc.
It also allows candidates to experience what the job would be like, reducing the risk of a candidate quitting their job because it wasn’t what they expected.
Finally, it allows you to widen the candidate pool to people with different industry or role experience but transferable skills and qualities. You can get evidence that those skills are transferable and that the candidate has the learning aptitude to transition quickly.
Can you give us an example of a job simulation that you’ve run before?
We built a simulation for a Service Coordinator position in a tech firm. A few minutes before the simulation, the candidate received an email with instructions on a task they would have to problem-solve.
The candidate received a mock ticket from an upset customer having problems with the hiring company’s system. A recording of the hiring manager was played, asking the candidate to resolve the situation. A few distractions came up during this process as well – the candidate received emails and phone calls from mock customers and co-workers.
Of the candidates who went through the simulation, the one who had the most relevant experience performed the worst. Her attention to detail, critical thinking, customer service mindset, and problem-solving skills wasn’t great.
The winning candidate ended up being someone with totally unrelated experience but had excellent troubleshooting/problem-solving and resourcefulness.
She ended up being a phenomenal hire that performed exceptionally well on the job.
What do you need to set up job simulations at your own company?
You need to have an open mind, creativity, resourcefulness, and critical thinking.
There are some tools that, while not required, make facilitating simulations significantly easier and more uniform. We always use Recruitee for this reason. We build step-by-step instructions for the Simulation Facilitator in Recruitee Evaluations. This allows us to ensure a consistent experience for all candidates.
It also gives us a place to store the deliverables candidates create, emails they send, transcripts of role-playing conversations, and scorecards for specific things they are looking for. We use Recruitee’s email templates for all the emails a candidate will receive during the simulation and the Send Later email feature. Every candidate gets emails at the same intervals without us having to remember to send the emails later in the simulation.
What are the most common blockers? How can you overcome them?
The biggest blocker is people almost always hear about simulations, think they are a great idea, but think they aren’t feasible for the role they’re hiring for. A simulation can be used for hiring someone into absolutely any role, at any level, in any industry.
Designing a truly effective simulation that produces accurate, valuable insight into candidates’ skills and qualities is always possible.
Another blocker is companies sometimes think candidates won’t be willing to go through a simulation when other employers don’t require it. When the hiring process is explained early on, and the candidates are told that simulations are mutually beneficial and will be as valuable to them as the hiring company, they respond with enthusiasm.
It helps them learn if the job is a good fit for them and proves their excellence during the hiring process. And if they care about working with a great team, they’ll be glad their future teammates were vetted carefully as well and that the company is more successful and has lower employee turnover as a result.
If you’d like to learn even more about how to implement a simulation in your organization, check out this ebook.