Customized Hiring Simulations: 4 Benefits You Need to Know What if your preferred candidate had to actually perform tasks tied to the job at hand?

By Jeff Furst

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It's hiring time, so, chances are, your hiring managers are putting their heads together, thinking about what makes a good employee. After much deliberation, they come up with a list of personality traits, abilities and work skills that the best employees in your organization share.

Related: 5 Ways to Catch Job Candidates in a Lie Before You Hire Them

But, how can an organization be sure that a candidate who meets those criteria will perform as consistently as its best employees? How does an organization avoid hiring employees who, like 68 percent of employees around the country -- according to a Gallup survey of 1,500 Americans -- feel disengaged at work?

The answer? Job-specific hiring simulations.

These simulations test candidates' skills in different situations they will encounter on the job. They range from paper-based assignments, or example scenarios based on real cases, to presentations that the candidate himself -- or herself -- performs.

Instead of a generic "out-of-the-box" simulation that assesses skills across a range of industries, job-specific hiring simulations allow organizations to hone in on the skills and characteristics that matter to them most.

For example, candidates for contact center positions at an insurance firm complete a short simulation that assesses their ability to think on their feet, communicate with potential customers and win new customers. Job-specific hiring simulations like this one allow organizations to use their processes and simulate their jobs to get a better idea of a candidate's abilities.

Instead of simply recording and analyzing answers from an interview, these simulations offer organizations the opportunity to record real-time performance data and analyze it dynamically.

So, what unique insights can organizations gather in these scenarios? How do they help companies secure the best talent? Here are four ways job-specific hiring simulations make an organization's hiring process more effective:

1. More accurate than interviews

It happens to even the best hiring manager: A candidate lists skills or experience on a resume, provides references that suggest he or she is a good fit, nails the interview and then performs terribly during the probationary period.

Hiring simulations help organizations get a more reliable view of a candidate's skills before the hire. McKinsey & Company, for instance, has candidates take part in a case interview based on real McKinsey business problems. This gives employers an idea of how candidates will approach and solve cases the company actually deals with, which helps them form a more accurate picture of how the candidate may perform in the role.

Looking for a sales representative? Have a candidate simulate making a sale or up-selling an item. Trying to fill the call center with solution-oriented employees? Ask candidates to deal with an angry customer and see how they handle the heat.

Since these hiring simulations are completely customizable, organizations can put candidates through any number of job-related situations to help determine if they're the right fit.

2. Help reduce bias

Since job specific hiring simulations allow organizations to evaluate candidates based on how they perform in different job-related situations, it's less likely that biases will affect hiring decisions.

For example, the hirer may trust the person who referred candidate A, love her previous experience or have a connection to her alma mater. Without a hiring simulation, a decent interview experience may be enough to give her the job over equally qualified candidate B.

Hiring simulations provide a way to look objectively at both candidates and make the right choice based on important key performance indicators, not interviewer bias.

Related: The 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions to Determine if Someone's a Fit

3. Help candidates gauge their interest

Remember, candidates are trying to make sure the role is a good fit for them, too. It can often be hard for a job seeker to tell from a few multiple choice or essay questions whether or not the role is a good fit.

Job-specific hiring simulations, however, allow organizations to give candidates the most accurate picture of what a "day in the life" will be like, so they're more informed about the role from the very beginning.

Take online test-prep company Magoosh, for example. The company's hiring process includes a questionnaire with sample tasks and questions related to the role and company. The questionnaire can take anywhere from one to eight hours, depending on the position and how much time candidates are willing to spend on the assignment. Not only does this weed out uninterested candidates, but it gives candidates a better sense of the type of work they'd be doing if hired.

Indeed, some candidates -- having seen exactly what they will be doing -- may not want to continue the application process. Using customized hiring simulations early on in the process screens out candidates who won't be engaged employees.

4. Help organizations see a candidate's work skills in action

Any good job seekers will stay calm and collected as they describe their "bright" personality and "superior stress-management" capabilities. However, not every job seeker can actually show work skills during a simulation designed to have him or her audition for the job.

Hiring managers who need deeper insights can get it from these simulations, which test how well a candidate can multi-task, navigate a computer or mobile device, make the right sales or service decisions and record information accurately, all while playing the part.

At Infinera, candidates are asked to participate in a "Tech Talk," a 45-to-60-minute presentation on their work. The idea is to see the candidate in action and gain a better understanding of the candidate's past projects, roles and contributions.

Job-specific hiring simulations help organizations get a more accurate, complete picture of the candidates who are interested in working for them. In the end, working these simulations into the hiring process early on can save time, money and resources that would be better spent elsewhere.

Related: Tip the Odds in Your Favor for Finding the Best Employees

Jeff Furst

Founder, President and CEO of FurstPerson

Jeff Furst is the founder, president and CEO of FurstPerson, a provider of job candidate assessment tests, web-based hiring systems and analytics for companies that hire frontline service, support and sales employees.

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