Role Play Exercises At Assessment Centres
One of the most common exercises given during an assessment centre, particularly for internships or graduate jobs, is a role play exercise. This is where you are asked to act out a work-related scenario with either a hiring manager or another candidate, to give your employers a chance to gauge how you would perform on the job.
What is a role play exercise?
There are many different ways to do a role play exercise, since they are tailored towards the role you have applied for and assess competencies specific to the position.
Most commonly, the role play will be structured with you as a company employee and your partner as a client, as this is the easiest way to get you to demonstrate the necessary skills.
You will be given a brief on the role play, which includes the roles you are playing, what the scenario will be regarding, and what outcome you should be aiming for. Most of the time, you are only given 5–10 minutes to prepare for the exercise, as they are looking to see how you process the information and respond on the spot.
Below are a few examples of jobs that might include a role play exercise in the recruitment process and what they might entail.
For a manager role, you might be asked to role play working through an issue that another member of staff has. It’s important for employers to see your communication and conflict resolution style, to ensure that you have leadership skills that are compatible with the company culture.
Performing well during this kind of role play exercise is not necessarily to do with the solution that you present, but how you handle reaching a solution. Regardless of personal feelings on the situation presented to you, you should be empathetic and work with the other person, showing you can build rapport and be someone that people can trust.
Role play exercises are a very popular recruitment tool for sales-based jobs, since they can show employers how well you perform under pressure and if you have the right communication style for this kind of work.
Often, they will ask you to sell a product or service to the recruiter, treating them like a potential client. Or you may have to deal with a complaint that someone has lodged.
For a sales position, they will be looking to see how you approach a potential client and adapt your technique to match what they are receptive to. It is important to pay attention to the brief, ensure that you are informed about what you are selling, and make a persuasive argument without being forceful.
As a police officer, dealing with the public during stressful situations is a large part of the job, so employers need to see how you respond to this kind of scenario. Typically, you will be asked to role play as the officer responding to the scene of a crime and manage the situation with the victim or witness.
They expect you to be able to manage your emotions and stay professional, while also showing understanding for the other person, who may be in emotional distress. It is important to show you can take control of the situation and present a resolution, while still communicating respectfully.
Why are role play exercises used?
Employers like to use role play exercises because they are a chance to see you in action before you are actually on the job. During a role play, you can demonstrate your skills and strengths, rather than just talking about them as you might do during an interview.
This can be especially helpful for early career recruitment, where you may not have direct experience to support your application.
They are also a good indicator of things that are harder to gauge through other recruitment tools, like how well you work under pressure, if you can think on your feet, and your communication style.
During a role play exercise, you are likely to show a more accurate reflection of your professional demeanour than when being questioned in an interview.
Since role play exercises are tailored to reflect the job, they can be a useful learning experience for you as well. Many scenarios used are common occurrences for that position, meaning that you are able to get a better understanding of what typical workplace experiences might be like and if this role is right for you.
Tips for performing well in role play exercises
Research the role. This is essential for any stage of the recruitment process, but will become most apparent during a role play exercise. Employers are looking for you to demonstrate certain competencies and values, so make sure you know the specifics of the role and the organisation beforehand.
Be confident. Although role play exercises can be daunting, it is important to project confidence and trust in your abilities. Confident body language is just as important as what you say, so remember to sit up straight, make eye contact, and try not to fidget during the exercise.
Build rapport. Make sure that you are an active listener and encourage conversation with your exercise partner. This shows your interpersonal skills and makes the situation more relaxed, which allows you to perform better and make a positive impression.
Pace yourself. If you are nervous it can be easy to rush through the exercise by talking too quickly or trying to get to the preferred outcome as soon as possible. Keep an eye on the clock, but also take your time to let the conversation flow and show off your skills.
Be yourself. While a role play exercise does ask you to perform to a certain extent, employers are looking to see who you are and what your selling points are. You may have a professional persona, but allow some of your personality to shine through and connect with your role play partner.
How do I prepare for role play exercises?
The best way to prepare for anything is to practice, but this can be more difficult to achieve when it comes to role play exercises. If you have someone that you feel comfortable with then you can try to stage a role play exercise with them, which can be helpful if you are nervous about acting in front of others.
If you don’t have someone to practice with, you can also watch role play exercise videos on YouTube to see how they are usually structured.
As mentioned before, researching the role and the company is important when going into the recruitment process. Employers like to see that you are interested in the job and doing the job at that specific company, so you need to show off your knowledge about both.
Role play exercises are essentially a different kind of interview, where you can demonstrate your skills and if you fit the company, so make sure that you know what they will be looking for.
On the day, pay close attention to the brief given as this will give structure to the role play and tell you what you should be aiming for. You can use your preparation time wisely by making a rough plan of your approach and the skills you will need to demonstrate throughout, which can help keep you focused on the task.