Role Playing Uncovers a Candidate’s Core Competencies

job interview mockWhen reviewing candidates for a job opening, hiring managers typically base their decision on experience and likeability. The candidate looks great on paper, and seems to fit in with the corporate culture, but… can they really do the job?  

Hiring the wrong candidate is the single most expensive mistake a company can make. Knowing that most candidates have prepared to answer the most common interview questions, many employers use behavioral questions, role playing or mock scenarios during the interview process to uncover a candidate’s true potential.  

This role-playing technique is gaining popularity among hiring managers, and can be useful for nearly all roles and industries. By revealing the candidate’s true abilities, role-playing during the interview provides the hiring manager with a more accurate picture of the candidate’s ability to do the job. This can be especially helpful for candidates with the raw talent needed to excel in the role, who do not have the desired work experience. These mock scenarios can speed up the hiring process and minimize the learning curve once an employee is hired. Additionally, hiring top performing candidates can raise the overall caliber of the organization’s staff.

Here is a great example of how the role-playing process works. The hiring managers of  Software Advice, a company dedicated to helping buyers find the software best suited for their needs, created “The CoffeeScenario,” as a means of screening candidates for their Software Analyst position. The scenario is a mock sales call in which the hiring manager poses as a customer and the candidate guides them through a series of questions to determine which coffee shop they should go to and which drink they should order.   This scenario mimics the needs analysis their analysts perform on a daily basis.The candidate is tested on 5 uncoachable core competencies chosen by Software Advice to determine their raw talent.

5 Core Competencies:  

Articulation –  How well does the candidate speak? Do they use filler words such as, “um,” “uh,” or “like?”   Do they speak with a confident tone?  

Energy –  Does the candidate sound genuinely energetic about what they are talking about? Do they seem passionate about what they are selling?

Ability to Take Control –  Does the candidate guide the buyer successfully through the buying process? Can the applicant take control and drive the call where it needs to be?

Ability to Think on Their Feet –  Can the candidate overcome obstacles they may come across without fumbling?

Coachability –  How well can the applicant understand the scenario and apply it?

Jobseekers — be on your toes and open to whatever situation you are presented with during the interview, so that you can present yourself in the best possible light. Preparation and   being “in the moment” are the keys to interview success. Best of luck in your job search!

Trish Thomas founded The Resume Resource in 2009 to help people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers. As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, she helps her clients articulate their unique value to stand out from the competition, and guides  them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful.


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