How do Role-play exercises work?
During an assessment centre, role play exercises are a popular exercise used by graduate recruiters during this stage of the process. They are common in graduate scheme recruitment processes, and are particularly helpful for roles that require a play style role such as sales or consultation. Typically, role play exercises are one to one involving a member of the recruitment team. The candidate’s performance will be observed throughout and their performance assessed. The candidate’s strengths and weakness will be assessed. Naturally, what a role play exercise contains will vary drastically depending on the role in question. The context and content of the role play will depend on the organisation. And they be based on the position in which they have applied. For example, if the candidate is applying for a sales role, they will likely have to role play a purchase situation to a prospective customer or client.
What you should know before taking a role-play exercise
As with most exercises during an assessment centre process, recruiters are unlikely to use a role play exercise as the only tool in the selection process. Instead, they will use various selection tools, which may or may not include a case study exercise and a presentation exercise. Therefore, you do not need to get overtly stressed over any one exercise. Naturally, candidates will have strengths and weaknesses to one exercise over another. This is part of the selection process. Also, you will typically be told in advance that you are to partake in a role play exercise. As such, it is designed and thus best practice to prepare for the event. Especially if you know it is a sales role, doing some sales role play before the assessment day could be helpful.
Example role-play exercise
Role-play exercises will only really be used if the role you are applying for involves a lot of face-to-face interaction, or roles involving lots of communication over the phone e.g. sales.
When an employer is recruiting for a role where your communication skills with other people will be a determinating factor in your success in the role, then they will want to assess the potential candidates in this valuable skill.
A classic role-play exercise is someone playing the role of an angry customer and you having to deal with them and their complaints in whatever way you think is best.
If the role you're applying for is centred around sales, then your role play exercise may involve you having to attempt to sell something. This would display your ability to improvise and your persuasion techniques.
General role-play exercise advice
We list some useful tips for your role play exercise here:
1. Try to stay relaxed: Given that the role will likely involve pressure, for you to perform on the spot, it is important that you do not let nerves disrupt your performance. Of course, nerves can help sharpen your skills, but large amounts of anxiety will almost certainly not be helpful and will dissuade recruiters from hiring you. Recruiters know that these exercises can be nerve inducing, especially for graduates who are more inexperienced and less familiar with the role, so do not be too worried about being nervous. The key is to make sure it does not hinder your performance too much. Remember to take a breath, listen to your recruiter during the role play, and take your time.
2. Assume the role and get in character: Another good thing to bear in mind, is to try to assume the role of the character. Committing to the role as you perform the exercise is not only a good way for the recruiter to take you seriously, but it can really help with nerves. The more in character you are, the more naturally and professionally you will act and seem. This will certainly impress recruiters with a higher performance and also express your commitment to the exercise, and therefore the organisation and the role in question.
3. Research the role: Always make sure you research the role before the role play exercise or indeed any assessment centre in general. Only by knowing the company and the key compentencies being sought after will you know what is right for you and what is right for the organisation.
4. Time keeping: It is always good practice to ensure that an appropriate pace is kept throughout the exercise. While it may be inevitable that you have to speed up or slow down during certain sections of the role play exercise, it is not ideal. You do not wish to put yourself in a position where you feel the need to rush or slow down. Try and keep an eye on the time and pace yourself. However, do not look at the clock all the time as this will almost certainly distract you and remove you from the role play. Be careful with your timing.