Role playing: what it is and how to make the most of it in a job interview

Role playing is a personnel selection test to uncover skills that might not be apparent in earlier recruitment phases.  This...
30 November 2023

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Role playing: what it is and how to make the most of it in a job interview

Role playing is a personnel selection test to uncover skills that might not be apparent in earlier recruitment phases. 

This practice, which can be conducted individually, in pairs, or in a group, helps determine if a candidate possesses the qualities that the company is looking for, including adaptability, negotiation skills, leadership, and empathy, among others. 

If you’re considering how to update your selection processes, role playing can be highly beneficial. Keep reading to learn what it is and how to leverage it in a job interview.

What is role playing? 

Role playing, also known as role-playing game, is a technique in which an individual or a group of people assume fictional identities to solve a problem or conflict inspired by real-life situations. 

In this way, role playing can be incorporated into group personnel selection processes to encourage candidates to step out of their comfort zones, facilitating the assessment of more active behaviors than in a traditional job interview. 

This test can detect strategic soft skills such as:

  • Problem-solving.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Leadership.
  • Adaptability.
  • Teamwork.
  • Negotiation.
  • Empathy.
  • Communication.
Role playing

In essence, role playing provides the opportunity to delve deeper into the personalities and capabilities of candidates in environments that closely resemble real-world situations

In addition, role playing can effectively complement motivational interviews that aim to confirm a person’s readiness to adapt to the changes associated with joining a new company.

Benefits of role play interviews

Using role play techniques for job interviews brings some benefit for your recruitment processes:

  • Realistic Assessment: Role play interviews mimic real-world scenarios, providing a more accurate evaluation of a candidate’s potential on the job.
  • Revealing Soft Skills: They offer a unique opportunity to assess a candidate’s soft skills, which are often challenging to evaluate through traditional interviews.
  • Cultural Fit: Employers can determine if the candidate is a good fit for the organization’s culture and values.
  • Innovative Selection: Role play interviews demonstrate an organization’s innovative approach to hiring, which can attract top talent.

Phases of role playing in job interviews

Role playing is effective in a personnel selection process as long as it aligns with your company’s Human Resources strategy. 

In what we could call the “incubation phase” of role playing, you should analyze the objectives you want to achieve, helping you select the most suitable test.


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Once you’ve chosen the role-playing game you will use, the following are the phases for the “D-Day”:

Presentation of the test

This is the first phase of role playing, in which the interviewer explains what the test will entail and assigns different roles in the game. The examiners will take on the role of observers, facilitators, or situation controllers if needed.

Exercise preparation

Depending on the nature of the game, a few minutes of preparation may be necessary, during which the candidate can take some brief notes to use throughout the exercise.

Dynamics development

Throughout the role playing, candidates should know how to leverage their skills and bring their abilities to the forefront. This allows them to focus on resolving the conflict presented in the test introduction.

End of the practice

Once the time specified in the presentation or the time required for the interviewer to evaluate the candidate’s skills, attitudes, competencies, and behaviors has passed, the test is concluded.

Results analysis

The results should be analyzed using procedures that ensure fair and objective conclusions.

What is role playing?

Practical examples for using role playing in a job interview

There are various group dynamics based on role playing that you can incorporate into your group interviews, but you can also adapt them for individual candidates. 

These dynamics typically present situations that may occur in the company or real-life scenarios designed to verify if the person fits the organization’s profile.

Roundtable discussion

The roundtable discussion involves presenting a topic that elicits opinions that candidates must defend according to the roles assigned by the interviewer. 

Each person’s input is subject to a specified duration to ensure equal participation conditions. 

This test allows the interviewer to evaluate skills such as initiative, self-control, assertiveness, and empathy.

Escape room

The escape room is a role-playing scenario that presents a series of challenges and puzzles whose resolution allows candidates to progress toward a final objective. 

Through this game, you can analyze how individuals perform under pressure and evaluate conflict resolution abilities, leadership, creativity, analytical thinking, and teamwork.

Role playing is effective in a personnel selection process

Virtual role playing

Role playing can also take place in virtual environments through virtual reality systems or metaverse platforms that recreate diverse scenarios. 

These technologies enable you to access profiles nationwide or even abroad, expanding your chances of attracting the specialized talent you need. 

At Smowltech, we offer solutions that allow you to create secure environments for your online selection processes. 

We invite you to explore our proctoring plans to enhance your employer branding or recruiter brand by creating spaces that build trust with your candidates. 

Feel free to request a free demo in which we’ll show you how we can help you find your ideal candidate.


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