Job Simulations: A Practical Approach to Candidate Evaluation

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>In This Guide You’ll Learn</h2><p><ul><li>Why you need to do Job Simulations and Work Culture Assessments.</li><li>Best practices for doing them effectively.</li></ul></p></div>

Having had a great interview with a candidate you might be dying to offer them a job and be done with the whole recruitment rigmarole. If so, please hold on a minute! During interviews candidates show you the best version of themselves, but can they actually do the job?

Job Simulations and Work Culture Assessments give you the hard facts. I’ve seen candidates do brilliantly at interview, then completely bomb when set a task, so putting together a Job Simulation is definitely worth the effort! (Job Simulations are different to the work assessment centres used by big organisations who hire large numbers of people, often as part of their graduate recruitment schemes. These assessment centres are not normally used by SMEs.)

How to Do a Job Simulation

To carry out an effective Job Simulation, follow these best practices:

  • Create a Job Simulation by taking the most important two or three competencies from the Great Performance Profile. For a customer service job these might be showing warmth towards customers and being able to carry out good written communications. To test these, you could give candidates half an hour to write responses to real customer emails. Job Simulations can also involve role play such as getting candidates to conduct a mock sales call.
  • Job Simulations inevitably feel artificial and highly pressured so don’t expect candidates to do brilliantly or even to perform to the best of their ability. What you’re doing is looking for evidence that the person can meet the Minimum Acceptable Standard and checking that they can do what they’ve claimed.
  • Job Simulations should be short enough that candidates can do them right after their interview.
  • It’s good if the task can be carried out in your workplace as this allows the candidate to interact with your staff, which will allow you to judge how good a fit they’ll be.
  • If the simulation is done virtually, it’s advisable for there to be a reviewer online while they do the task to check that the candidate isn’t taking too long or receiving help.

How to Do a Work Culture Assessment

Work Culture Assessments help you get a sense of the true person when they’re in a more relaxed setting. Give candidates a tour of your workplace and see how they get on with your employees. Or have a group of your staff take them out for lunch and see how they behave in an informal setting.

A few points to bear in mind when doing Work Culture Assessments:

  • The candidates want to see whether the culture of your firm will suit them, so keep selling the organisation and the job to them.
  • Only bring in likely candidates as your team won’t want the bother of having to meet an endless string of people.
  • You’re making the hiring decision not your employees. Their narrow personal interests might be making them less than keen about a promising candidate.
  • Trust your guts if they seem to be telling you something important about a candidate.

Another way of observing how a candidate performs and assessing cultural fit is to take them on temporarily and later make them permanent if things go well. Keep the temporary period short, though, otherwise the candidate may find a post with another company.

<div class="grey-callout"><h2>Key Takeaways</h2><p><ul><li>Interviews aren’t infallible at telling you how well a candidate will perform on the job.</li><li>To really see whether they can do the job, set up a Job Simulation to directly test their skills. Design one on the basis of the competencies in your Great Performance Profile, keep it short and if possible, carry it out in your workplace.</li><li>Work Culture Assessments help you see if a candidate will fit in with your team. Introduce candidates to your staff and see how they get on.</li><li>Alternatively, you could employ a candidate for a short temporary period, then make them permanent if they perform well and fit in.</li></ul></p></div>

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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.