Recruiting or hiring the right talent is essential to the growth of any business.
However, it’s not always easy to find the right person. Most times, it feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack-like heap of CVs, with each new one looking better than the last.
Sorting through these CVs often requires a ton of time and effort — without the guarantee of picking the right candidate.
In this guide, you’ll learn what job simulations mean. We’ll also consider how job simulations can help you, its pros and cons, types, and how to create an excellent job simulation that’ll benefit your company and its employees.
What is a Job Simulation?
A job simulation, or work simulation, is an employment test where potential employees are asked to complete tasks expected from them on the job.
For example, for a secretary position, a job simulation might include typing a dictation or completing forms.
A job simulation might also involve the candidate showing their soft skills like communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence.
Job role tests are specific to the job the applicant is applying for, and by using these tests, employers can determine whether a job candidate can do the job instead of hiring them just based on their CVs or interview answers.
85+ years of research compiled into the Schmidt-Hunter paper reveal that education and experience aren’t effective at predicting candidates’ ability. Instead, job simulations help test for skills directly!
Let’s now see some of the most significant advantages and disadvantages of using these tests in a job hiring process.
When to Use Job Simulations
These tests can occur at different points in the hiring process. Here are some of the best times to use them.
Using job simulations as the first screening step can weed out less-suitable candidates, leaving recruiters with an optimized pool that’ll make the time, effort, and costs of undergoing custom aspects of the hiring process worth it.
Situational judgment tests and similar role-specific tests prove effective at this stage.
At the Final Interview Stage
Using simulations like in-basket tests and case interviews in the final stages of the hiring process will increase the chances of hiring right. Since these tests take time to create and execute, using these tests at this stage ensures that recruiting teams spend their time rightly because they’ll likely be testing serious contenders.
Advantages of Using Job Simulations
Why should you consider using job simulations when hiring? Let’s discuss five significant reasons.
1. It Tests the Candidates’ Skills
A CV can be an excellent way to gauge whether a candidate is suitable for a job. However, it’s not enough, especially considering that candidates can now pay great writers to help them write or polish their resumes and cover letters.
Interviews are also an essential part of the hiring process, but many recruiters will agree that great interviewers don’t always make for great employees and vice versa.
However, a job simulation is better than CVs and interviews to evaluate a potential employee’s skills objectively. Such tests ensure you’re moved to hire by actual ability and let you see how well candidates handle the job in real-time and under work conditions.
Using these tests can reduce the risk of a bad hire. And how vital hiring right is! Hiring right reportedly increases the productivity of UK companies by almost £7.7 billion, while employing the wrong person can cost a business three times higher than a misdirected salary.
2. It Reduces Bias
It’s illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on their gender, religion, race, and other factors.
Unfortunately, many recruiters still discriminate against some candidates because of unconscious bias.
Using job simulations, though, it’s easier to fight against unconscious discrimination actively, thus helping you choose the best person for the job regardless of who they are.
3. It Gives Deeper Insights
These tests open a window for recruiters to peek into the personality of potential hires. Since simulations mirror actual work conditions, recruiters can see how candidates behave under stress, in a team, and when facing agitated customers.
For instance, they might learn that Candidate A is rude to agitated customers and doesn’t work well with others, despite acing their interview. In contrast, Candidate B, who is shy and reserved, has an excellent way with customers and teammates.
4. It Reduces the Cost of Bad Hires
Filling a position takes a lot of time, resources, and effort. Recruiters have to collect resumes, sift through to shortlist candidates, interview candidates, and welcome the new employees.
Imagine hiring wrong and having to find a replacement for the position within only six months.
With the average cost of training new employees running into thousands of dollars, how important it is to hire right!
Job simulations help reduce these risks and assist companies in hiring at the lowest cost.
5. It Benefits Candidates
Companies aren’t the only ones that benefit from job simulations: candidates do too.
A job simulation lets candidates know what they are expected to do in the role. They taste the organization’s culture and processes and experience its dynamics.
When candidates realize from the start that the job isn’t for them, they can exit the process early. This self-elimination can help decrease employee turnover because you’ll have to only sort through people suited for the role and looking to stay will be hired.
Disadvantages of Using Job Simulations
Although a job simulation is generally excellent, it has a few disadvantages.
1. It Can Be Expensive
Simulations, particularly in-person simulations, will require a lot of resources. You’ll need a space to carry out the simulation, a scheduling program for everyone to do the simulations, and internal staff to administer and debris the simulations which could mean hiring a new team.
2. It Can Exhaust Time and Resources
Simulations can take time to create and execute. For example, it could take several weeks or even months to develop custom simulations. Depending on your recruitment goals, this may not be worth the time and people resources you’ll need to make this happen.
Types of Job Simulations
Job simulations have different forms, depending on the role. However, there are some common types of job simulation tests. Let’s discuss them.
In this type of job simulation, the candidate must complete a set of tasks in a given period.
This simulation aims to see how the candidate deals with tasks and deadlines and applies critical thinking. In addition, by observing the potential hire, managers can see how well or poorly the candidate manages their workflow.
In-basket simulations are recommended if you’re hiring for an administrative or managerial position.
Situational Judgment Tests
The situational judgment test (SJT) is a simulation test where the candidate is put in pretend scenarios with obstacles and assessed based on how they deal with these challenges.
These scenarios are usually in the form of multiple-choice questions, and the results are anonymously collected to weed out any bias.
For example, an SJT may put the candidate in a situation where they have to deal with an angry customer—the potential employee has to choose from several options on how they’ll deal with the customer.
Some companies use take-home assignments to test their candidates. These assignments are due within a timeframe, but they offer candidates the advantage of doing the test in their comfort zone and within their schedule.
While it has been criticized as being a less accurate simulation, it can be helpful if a manager wants to know how well a candidate works independently and without close management.
Group tests are instrumental in checking out how well potential hires work in teams and communicate with others.
These tests can be in the form of group discussions and presentations or could be a group activity where the group has to solve a work-related problem. Either way, it offers managers insight into the dynamics at work and even helps to assign roles if the company’s hiring more than one candidate.
In this simulation, the candidate is presented with a challenging business scenario that they must navigate.
It puts the candidate in the ‘hot seat’ and helps hiring managers to assess the candidate’s ability to deal with high-pressure, high-stakes conditions.
Tips for Creating Successful Job Simulations
Here are tips for creating successful job simulations.
1. Make it immersive.
Whatever the form of the job simulation, it’s vital to make it immersive. This means the candidate must genuinely experience what it feels like to work in the role. Depending on the position and requirements, a job simulation can take a few hours or take the entire day.
2. Make it clear and specific.
The simulation should be clear and specific. Therefore, hiring managers should explain what is measured and how it is measured to the candidates. Then, by guiding candidates, you let them focus on doing their best.
Clarity and specificity also extends to your hiring team. They should know what’s being measured and how it’s being measured. All team members should know the specific skills and qualities they should be looking for.
Final Thoughts on Job Simulations
Job simulations are an excellent addition to any recruitment process as they help you discover skills you’d otherwise not have found on a CV. Although the process can be time-consuming, especially if it’s the first time incorporating it in your recruitment process, the benefits are worth it.
Before Deciding Where Your Content Team Reports, Pay Attention to This
When a brand creates a new content marketing or content strategy team, they often ask, “What function or department should the content team report to?”
My answer? “Yes!”
Now, I’m not trying to be a smart aleck. (Well, I am a little bit, do you even know me?) But seriously, my yes comes from years of helping implement content teams in dozens of businesses. My affirmative response indicates the most important thing isn’t to whom content reports; it’s that content teams report to the business.
When it reports into a function, such as brand, marketing, sales enablement, demand gen, PR/comms, or even (yes, really in one case) finance, the business acknowledges content marketing is a real thing with real responsibilities, power, and capabilities to affect business outcomes.
“What outcomes?” you might ask.
Well, that depends on where content marketing reports.
Now you have the real conundrum.
You can’t figure out where content marketing and content strategy should report without knowing the expected business outcomes, and you can’t know the business outcomes until you know where they’re reporting.
Content’s pervasiveness creates the challenge
Content as a strategic function in business affects almost everything. That pervasiveness means nearly any function in the business could “own” content as a strategy.
For example, we recently worked with a company about a year into its enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy. They have a content team, and we were to help them assemble a governance and operational approach for their website content.
When we determined the right operational processes, we got into trouble. A content team leader asked, “What if someone proposed a new AI chatbot as part of this digital transformation for the website? Is it a content project with a technology component or a technology project with a content component?”
The question isn’t semantics. Instead, the answer determines the process for development, the team owning implementation, and the measurement by which it’s deemed successful.
It’s not just a technology challenge, either. The company also wanted to create new brand content guidelines for the website. Is that a content team project informed by the brand team or a brand project in consultation with the content team?
Given content’s pervasiveness, you can argue it is part of any meaningful communications initiative the business takes on. But sales’ needs are different from marketing’s, and HR’s requirements are different from the demand-gen team’s. However, to achieve consistency in content and communication, it doesn’t make sense to let each function determine its content strategy.
To achieve the balance between an enterprise-wide content strategy and the unique needs of every function in the business, the leaders and practitioners must decide to whom content reports. Again, the agreement is important, not the where or what of the agreement.
3 key attributes to identify in the decision-making process
As you and the leadership ponder how to balance the enterprise content strategy and where it should sit, consider these three key attributes that play an essential role in success.
1. Develop a content operations backbone
I don’t care if you have two people and one blog and a website or a team of 50 who operate on 35 content platforms across multiple channels. A content operations infrastructure creates consistent success across your digital content experiences. Content operations is an enterprise-recognized set of integrated and shared systems (meaning technologies), standards, guidelines, playbooks, and processes to ensure reliable, consistent, scalable, and measurable content across the business.
Content operations acts as the backbone – the foundation – to ensure the content is created, managed, activated, and measured the same way across whatever audience and whichever channel the brand presents to.
2. Connect with the audience across platforms
You can no longer expect to create one optimal experience that makes up for a bunch of sub-optimal ones.No matter your size, it’s not good enough to have your blog subscribers separate from your marketing automation database and all that separated from your CRM system. This goes for all of your audiences – from new employees to external parties such as analysts, journalists, partners, vendors, etc.
In this approach, the goal is to engage, build, and develop relationships with audiences. Thus, connecting audience behavior with insights on how to communicate better is not a siloed functional need; it is an enterprise need.
3. Build an accountability framework
This attribute in one word? Standards (and a team to keep them.) In a truly fascinating way, one of the earliest activities in building a content strategy makes the biggest impact on larger businesses: Come to terms with what words around content strategy and marketing mean. What is a campaign? What is the difference between a campaign and an initiative? What is an e-book? What is an article vs. a blog post? How long should a white paper take to write? Most businesses assume these things or create meanings based on contextual needs.
At a recent client, one group expected the content team to produce white papers within a week of the request. Another group expected them to be delivered in six weeks at double the length that the other group thought.
An accountability framework – and its ongoing evolution – presents clear ownership and coordination of content standards (roles, responsibilities, processes, types) across the enterprise. This model should not detail the definitions and standards but identify how they will enforce them.
Start your content decisions by deciding together
Where should you begin?
Well, just like in the beginning, my answer is yes. Independent of where you start, the critical point happens in the deciding of the elements. To be clear, these are institutional decisions, not simply “what you think.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what you believe the definitions, roles, or processes should be if the other parts of the organization don’t know, believe, or care.
A great first step is to create that accountability framework and make people care about its existence. At first, it might create a language of content that everybody in your business understands. When someone says, “I’d like to do a campaign,” or, “I think we should write a white paper,” everyone understands what that means and what it takes to do it. Then, the benefits of an accountability framework will start to become clear.
It makes the case for a team assigned to lead this consistency easier. And that enables the team to connect those experiences and audiences in a way that makes sense for everyone.
In the end, you have found determining the where, how, and what of a content strategy implementation isn’t the most important. The act of deciding is.
It’s a strange combination. In isolation, the reason for deciding seems straightforward. So why wouldn’t anybody want a clear definition of what a campaign is or a single source of the truth when it comes to the tone of your content?
But stacked together, those decisions feel like they are bigger than the content team and really should involve the entire enterprise. (Spoiler alert: They do.)
If you want any desired consequence, you had better decide on all the things that would help create it.
It’s your story. Tell it well.
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