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Job simulation: how can you prepare for one

Job simulation: how can you prepare for one

With the rapid development of new technologies and software, many common for us processes have transformed drastically. Let’s have a look at the hiring process. In-person interviews are gradually stepping aside and welcoming new approaches such as virtual interviews and even job simulations instead. It may sound like greetings from the future, but in fact, it’s just an imitation of real-world job tasks. The position or field makes no difference, as the main aim is to allow candidates to demonstrate what they’ve written on their CV in practice. In our article, we dive deeper into the specifics of using job simulations in the recruitment process and discover how both the employer and employee can benefit from them.

What is a job simulation?

A job simulation is usually a test task that includes practical examples of day-to-day activities a particular position implies. For instance, if you’re aiming at becoming a customer support manager, you may be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills by having a conversation with a fussy or disappointed customer. If you’re applying for a managerial position, the simulated situation may require showing off your leadership skills, like conflict management abilities or providing feedback to a poor performer. Overall, job simulations offer candidates situational judgment tests, thus giving them a chance to show how well they can think on their feet and work under pressure.

There are different types of job simulations. Let’s have a closer look at some of them.

  1. Work Sample Simulation

    Usually, it’s about checking hard skills by giving a candidate a task that is a part of the routine of a particular role. For instance, the task may require creating a presentation with a video embedded in it. Other examples include drafting a blog post, creating social media ad post, or solving an onsite construction task.

  2. Role-playing Simulation

    This type of job simulation gives candidates a chance to showcase their soft skills. There is a universe of options on how to assess candidates’ ability to navigate interpersonal relationships with people in a shared work environment. For example, having a phone conversation with an angry customer. It’s a great opportunity to check (and demonstrate) one’s emotional intelligence, stress resilience, and creativity.

  3. In-basket Exercises

    When dealing with in-basket simulation, candidates are provided with a timed skill test, usually on checking their managerial and administrative skills. The aim of in-basket exercises is to see how well a potential employee manages their workflow by organizing the whole process, and prioritizing the steps while remaining well-balanced and collected.

  4. Situational Judgment Simulation

    Situational judgment tests include a potential challenge a candidate may face at work. The approach gives an opportunity to assess a candidate’s problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, ability to work under pressure, and promptly come up with creative and feasible solutions.

  5. Take-home Assignments

    This job simulation format implies giving job applicants a task that should be accomplished at home and submitted before the negotiated deadline. It works best for remote positions to check if a person is organized enough to work efficiently and productively without constantly being under someone’s supervision.

Overview of the Benefits and Challenges Posed by Job Simulations

At first sight, the job simulation approach may seem to be a perfect way to see firsthand the potential candidate’s ability to perform tasks. This is supposed to make job interviews more efficient and help avoid a bad hire. However, there is a fly in every ointment. Let’s sort it out.

The Benefits of Using Job Simulations

  • A surefire way to check the info on a CV. Job seekers have gotten the hang of creating eye-catching CVs. With the help of modern AI software, this task has become even more attainable. For instance, according to the 2022 research, 93% of respondents admitted having been caught lying on their CVs. Only 31% of them have been caught red-handed. Therefore, asking your candidates to perform in real time will reveal if their skills are really compatible with those on their polished resumes.
  • Bias elimination. Let’s face the brutal reality and admit that discrimination hasn’t gone into oblivion yet. Recruiters and HR specialists have been doing definitely better, however, there are still cases of gender, age, or race discrimination worldwide. Using job simulations, the likelihood of being exposed to discrimination or unconscious bias reduces significantly, as the choice is made depending on the performance, not the candidate’s identity.
  • Provides deeper insights. Every HR specialist knows that they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover when assessing an applicant. However, sometimes even they can be led astray by a professionally prepared speech and performance. It’s a big advantage for a candidate if they know how to advertise themselves. However, some great specialists are a bit more humble and prove their worth by doing, not talking. Job simulation is exactly what gives them this opportunity.
  • Reduced expenses. Not only can job simulation help reveal resume fibbers but also prevent the implications they could cause. According to this research, getting a single bad hire costs an average of $14,900. Furthermore, it takes about six months or more for companies to break even on new hires. Looks like the game is not worth playing, doesn’t it? By applying a job simulation in the hiring process, employers have a chance to avoid both unplanned costs and disappointment.
  • Beneficial for a candidate. Not only recruiters get snookered by negligent candidates. Employers are also prone to sugarcoating or being vague when telling about job peculiarities. Thanks to live job simulations, candidates get an opportunity to taste the role as it is. Should they realize that it’s not their kind of thing, both sides should say goodbye to each other in the early stages.

The Drawbacks of Using Job Simulations

  • Expensive. The job simulation process requires appropriate preparation. Ideally, there should be a new internal team formed to administer and manage the simulations. Secondly, a company needs to organize a suitable space for the process to be held there. Finally, developing effective tasks that are relevant to this particular company. They can be either online and based on specific software or offline with specific equipment. Both options are money-consuming.
  • Demanding. Considering the preparation requirements given above, besides money, creating successful job simulations demands a substantial investment of time and effort. For one, the hiring process will be no mean feat. The field is new, so finding sensible specialists may take months. This stage is followed by the development process which will also take loads of time, effort, and creativity. One should clearly understand that quick gains are unlike to happen.

Preparing for a Job Simulation

If you’ve turned out to be lucky to experience this new approach in practice, here are some helpful ideas on how to prepare for the job simulation assessment.

Researching the Company and Role

Allocate a good deal of time to learn as much about your potential company as possible. Having done that, you’ll get familiarized with their corporate culture, and, therefore, understand what interpersonal skills they value and expect to see in you as their potential employee. By doing thorough research on the role you’re applying for, you can imagine what tasks might be presented at a job simulation stage and get a bit prepared.

Practicing Relevant Skills and Knowledge

Another advantage of doing research about the role is knowing in advance what exactly skills and knowledge are going to be assessed. You may acknowledge your gaps and work on them before the job simulation procedure. For instance, you, as a programmer, may be dealing with writing code using a specific programming language. You may have worked with it but haven’t been using it for a while at your previous workplace. So now you can refresh your knowledge and practice it so that you don’t get into a mess during job simulation tests.

Staying Positive During Preparation

The experience may well be overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with it for the first time in your life. However, you’ve dug for information about the company, you’ve learned the job description, and now you are well aware of what the job entails. There are no grounds for negativity and pessimism, as they only steal your energy and reduce your thinking ability. The best option would be to open up to the experience and try enjoying it. If you succeed, you get a job. If you fail, you get experience. In both outcomes, it will work out for you, and there is no point in panicking beforehand.

During the Job Simulation

Job simulations appear either during the screening stage or during the final interview stage of the recruitment process. Sometimes, candidates may be dealing with them two times. How not to go off the deep end and handle it with dignity? Let’s find out!

Presenting Your Skills and Abilities

The day X has come. This is the best time to show off what you are actually capable of. Based on the performance potential employers demonstrate, hiring managers then compare candidates and make their choice. To perform at your best, you have to get rid of anxiety and worries so that your body doesn’t waste its resource on dealing with them. Before the start, try some breathing techniques to ground yourself and by all means avoid dehydration. These simple tips will help your body focus its resources on completing the task.

Handling Questions and Exercises Confidently

Remember, you shouldn’t be humble when presenting your expertise, however, don’t brag about it or act arrogantly. Be honest even if you’ve recognized you don’t possess the required skill. Don’t hesitate to apply numerous approaches to accomplish the task – it will only show the hiring team that you are inventive and tend to think out of the box when facing a challenge. You can bring your own uniqueness, and this is what hiring teams have to feel and acknowledge.

Demonstrating Effective Communication Skills

The tip is relevant for both personal and group interviews, as in both cases you have to demonstrate you are good at establishing interpersonal relations. Team members are supposed to express their thoughts clearly, actively listen to others, deliver clear instructions and expectations, and provide constructive feedback. If it’s about customer-focused roles, effective communication is the key component to building trust and understanding with customers. Every successful company knows it and seeks applicants who already possess or are ready to work hard on obtaining such skills.

After the Job Simulation

As we’ve already mentioned, every outcome will play into your hands. It’s just another opportunity to test yourself and get valuable experience as a job seeker. Therefore, some work should be done even after your work simulation stage is over.

Following Up With Hiring Managers or Employers

Of course, the very first reason to reach out to the hiring manager is to show your genuine interest in joining their team. It can also give them a feeling that you distinguish their company among other employment opportunities and could become a loyal and dedicated member of their team. Other reasons include:

  • Another chance to reinforce your qualifications. Inquire if there is anything left that you could clarify for them.
  • Elaborate on your next steps or just kindly ask if there are any updates for you. It may well decrease the degree of tension and reduce anxiety.
  • Establish relationships. Even if they tell you that you haven’t been hired, let them know you appreciate the opportunity and that you’ll be glad to receive employment opportunities from them in the future.

Reflecting on the Experience

You should do work with yourself as well. Regardless of the outcome, sit down and reflect upon the experience. Trace your emotions and reactions during and after the process, analyze what made you feel uncomfortable, what you’d like to change in the future, and, of course, what you succeeded in. Don’t fixate on your failures or mishaps because it’s fraught with feeding the impostor syndrome. Pay more attention to what you did well. Only by perceiving your mistakes as clues for improvement will you be able to work them out and grow in the future.

Adjusting Preparation Strategies

Having reflected on your experience, you can come up with improvement approaches. Firstly, distinguish what was helpful for you and include it in your must-do list. Next, think about what your preparation stage might have lacked in the first place. Of course, it doesn’t mean that all job simulations are supposed to be identical and you can develop a one-size-fits-all preparation strategy and chill out. However, you’ll at least fill out the gaps and will rest assured that you are not likely to fall into the same trap next time.

Conclusion

Even though a job simulation is a relatively new technique to assess candidates’ skills, it has already become incredibly popular among employers. Not only does it help to see if a candidate really possesses the skills stated in their CV, but also how well they can perform under pressure. By demonstrating their skills in practice, employees also increase their chances of avoiding bias and discrimination when being assessed. Therefore, both parties benefit from using this method in the hiring process. Even though there are some drawbacks, such as being time-, effort-, and money-consuming, the approach is set to become a feasible tool to make the recruitment process much more efficient and cost-effective in the near future.

Date: 1 May 2023
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