A Job Simulation is a ‘mock’ exercise, one that replicates key aspects of the role or level (e.g. supervisor). The job simulation doesn’t have to be exactly like the role (there’s far too much to most jobs to cram into one exercise!) but it will reflect key elements of it. For instance, if a core part of the role or level is to communicate technical information in a simplified manner then the job simulation may involve a presentation of complex information. This may not be exactly the same format or content as you would find in the actual role, but the skills required will be the same irrespective of specifics of the scenario.

Why are job simulations useful?

It makes sense that an organisation will get a better idea what a candidate is made of by seeing them in action rather than only hearing about what they think they can do in an interview.

When are job simulations used?

This type of exercise is the basis of an assessment and/or development centre (ADC). Some organisations choose not to commit to a full ADC, instead using a job simulation exercise such as a roleplay or a presentation alone. These may be used in conjunction with existing processes like technical exams, psychometric tests or interviews. Job simulations usually focus on competencies, examining interpersonal skills and natural aptitudes.

What does a job simulations look like?
Depending on the core features of the role you are recruiting/ selecting for, job simulations can be:
• Role-plays
• Group exercises
• Written, in-basket or case study exercises
• Analysis exercises
• Presentations
• Another type of exercise which is growing in popularity is the Situational or Managerial Judgement Test (SJT or MJT).

Extra benefit of Job Simulations
Candidates tend to like these exercises because they feel relevant, in preference to psychometric testing for instance. If they are set in quite a similar context to the actual role, with similar content, they can also give candidates a realistic preview of the role, which can be valuable for graduates or external candidates.

Different contexts

You can use exercises that replicate the core elements of the role but are set in a parallel organisation. This can work best if the most important part of the assessment are management skills such communication, problem solving or leadership style with less emphasis on technical aspects e.g. capabilities demonstrated through qualifications or previous experience.

Using a parallel context/ content is a good idea if you want to level the playing field i.e. you have both internal or external candidates, or you have some candidates with more experience of the specific role, but you want to be able to assess all applicants equally with no advantage to anyone based on prior knowledge of the organisation or role.

The art of simulation design
Designing job simulation exercises to identify talent is a fine art. When they are specifically designed for your organisation you can get an accurate reflection of your culture, competencies, current issues and shared objectives which can be a useful aspect to your assessment process.
Generic job simulation exercises can work if the role requires fairly standard management competencies. Otherwise, exercises designed specifically for your organisation or industry will seem more relevant to candidates plus will deliver you the most accurate results.

Mistakes in job simulation use
A warning: job simulations which have not been created according to specific design principles have been found to be far less predictive of future success. Why? It’s not always easy to separate the different elements of behaviour from an overall assessment of performance (e.g. breaking performance down into a range of competency areas rather than allocating a generic rating from ‘good’ to ‘poor’). Professionally designed exercises provide detailed guidance to help an assessor differentiate between behaviours according to established competency criteria. Job simulations also need to be designed to elicit specific behaviours in a controlled way e.g. the exercise instructions and scripts will encourage the candidates to respond in a specific way which can then be measured against core criteria. Without experience, it is easy to miss some of the nuances of job simulation design, which can lead to unreliable assessment results. If you are going to the effort of using job simulation exercises, you need to know they will provide information you can count on.

Can we help?
We provide exercises either in combination as a full assessment or development centre, or individual job simulations. Single exercises can be useful if you are looking to simply refresh one aspect of your assessment process, or if you are looking for one additional element to supplement an existing testing method. Visit our store to find out more about our bespoke exercise design service or log in/ register for our members’ area to browse our range of existing job simulation exercises.