You have a critical vacancy on the team, a position that will make or break your year. The wrong hire would be a disaster. You’ve bitten your finger nails to the quick but that doesn’t seem to help.
You need to know that the person you hire can do the job, will love the job and will get along with the team, right? What if there was a way to test out the candidate before hiring? Heather Richkowski, an Interview Doctor, has a technique that works: work simulation interviews.
Here is how it works. Heather kicks off the process with a short meeting with the hiring team. They outline a scenario the company faces that the candidate would address during the normal course of business.
Heather turns this information into an interview scenario, sort of like a case study.
At the assigned time, the candidate comes to an office space outfitted with business equipment and tools. Heather explains the business scenario and resources available to solve the problem in an allotted amount of time. She provides colleagues’ names and contact information so the candidate can reach out for information or tools the candidate might need. The goal is to see how the candidate solves problems, reacts to interruptions and interacts with colleagues.
Behind the scenes Heather arms each hiring team member with information or tools the candidate might use. Some team members are designated “nudges” to interrupt, annoy and otherwise try to distract the candidate.
At the debrief meeting, the hiring team reviews the solution the candidate submitted along with an evaluation of how much of the available resources the candidate utilized and how the candidate handled the interruptions.
Work simulation interviews recreate a real world working situation to see the candidate in action. No one ever works in a vacuum. In the real world solving problems involves relying on colleagues, building relationships, seeking out information, along with using past experience and your own knowledge to solve problems.
Heather used this tool recently to test the “perfect” candidate. The boss insisted this was the engineer who could change their business. The hiring team wasn’t sure. Heather says, “I suggested that we could confirm the boss’s opinion by seeing the candidate in action. I recommended a Work Simulation Job Interview.” Heather facilitated the planning meeting then created a work simulation interview scenario. She gave the hiring team their assignments as resources or interrupters then invited the candidate to an afternoon-long work simulation interview.
In this case, the “perfect” candidate disappointed. He didn’t utilize the resources, he didn’t call any of the colleagues to ask for more information to help solve the problem and he got distracted by the interrupters who got him to stop what he was doing to chit-chat. Worst of all, the solution he turned in was basic, just scratching the surface of what the company needed to change their business.
Heather says this was a big win. “Even the boss had to admit that work simulation interviewing revealed they would have hired the wrong person. We also learned the kind of competencies and behavior we needed that helped us focus our search to find the right candidates.”
Setting up a work simulation interview for a critical position is not a huge investment. According to Heather, “The Company invested a few hours of my time, compared to the cost of making a bad hire; which in this case would have been over $50,000 in turnover costs plus the delay in implementing their business technology strategy – which could cost millions! A small price to pay for such valuable insight.”