You will probably be given some information to read through before the role-play to let you know what to expect.
From this information you will have an idea of what the discussion will be about i.e. will it be you giving someone feedback about their performance? Dealing with a complaint? Working with a colleague to identify a strategy? Investigating an issue?
You will be yourself. The other person or people involved will be actors.
They will be ‘in character’ when you enter the room so don’t expect there to be any awkward transition from ‘actor’ to ‘role’. As far as you are concerned you will feel like they are the people they are saying they are.
You will know how much time has been allocated to the interaction so you need to keep an eye on this and try to manage the issues within that time-frame.
The role-players will have a script but this won’t be obvious to you. They will respond very naturally to whatever you say so it will feel like a real conversation.
You will be in a room which will be set up as a meeting room or office i.e. there will probably be a table with chairs around it.
There will be one or two assessors in the room. They will be sat at the back trying to be as unobtrusive as possible! They will be making notes throughout the role-play so they can later evaluate what you’ve said against the criteria important to the exercise.
Most role-plays are designed to assess you on things like how you gather information, react to others, cooperate or negotiate with others, identify the important issues, resolve problems, outline plans, clarify your expectations, show integrity, communicate your ideas, listen to others, manage your time, deal with difficult team members, respond to challenge, influence others….and so on.
Remember that the role-play will be relevant to what you already know how to do.
For instance, if you are applying for a customer service role, it makes sense that your employer will want to see how you resolve customer issues in practice. If you are going for a sales role, it stands to reason that your ability to influence and persuade will be tested by the scenario.
You may have two role-plays to complete during your assessment. There may be a one to one scenario (you and one actor in conversation) or a multiple or group role-play where you will interact with two or more individuals. You won’t usually have more than two or three actors as this makes it difficult to hear you amongst what everyone one else has to say.
The scenario may be set internally to the company i.e. you are talking to a member of your team, or it may be external i.e. you need to discuss issues with external service providers, agencies, stakeholders etc. It will be made clear before the meeting who to expect.
The scenario may not be set within the organisation you are applying to but a fictitious parallel organisation. This is to maintain a level playing field for all candidates, and not allow any advantage in case internal applicants are included. So for instance, if you are applying to a finance firm you may have scenarios set in an insurance company; if you have applied to a position in a council department you may be given a context which is based in a health care facility. You will be given all the information you need to understand the context.
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