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The Dreaded Role Play Interview

Posted on
November 29, 2016

You’ve applied for a job and the company are keen to see you for an interview. It shouldn’t be so bad, nothing to worry about; probably just a chat about your CV and discussion about previous roles over coffee. Worst case scenario, they’ll ask a couple of competency based questions. But wait, there’s more… They want to do a Role Play exercise too? How could you possibly prepare for that?!

Fear not. Role Plays are a very common tool used by employers, particularly in the field of sales and customer services, in order to assess the core skills associated with carrying out the role at hand on a day to day basis. For instance, say you have applied for a telephone based sales role; chances are you already hold a similar position and will already know how to engage with clients or customers over the phone, and make sales. The interviewers will want you to demonstrate this, and to see how you would perform under certain circumstances on the phone to prospective clients or customers.

To prepare you for the role play, the interviewer will provide you with a brief containing a description of the scenario they have set for the activity to take place in. This will invariably be related to the role itself, and will help you discern how the company works (does it involve prospecting for new business, or a softer relationship management approach?) More often than not, the interviewer will have previously asked a colleague from the office to make the call and act as the client or customer, allowing them to listen in intently on the call.

What they will be looking for is quite simple: for you to show that you have the ability and the main skills to make the role your own. This is a much more effective way of gathering information than just engaging in conversation with you and trying to decide whether or not you’ll be good for the job.

It is essential that you use the time you are given to prepare and plan what you are going to say, and try to foresee any potential stumbling blocks that may prevent you from performing at your best. Every story has a beginning, middle and an end; think about the introduction, how you will pass on or gather the information you require, and how you will close the call (and perhaps arrange future action plans). But perhaps the most important thing to remember is: the calmer you are, the better.

Hopefully these few tips will help you prepare for your next role play interview, but if you have to take something away from this article, let it be these two key points:

  • The interviewers are NOT there to scare you, trip you or confuse you. They simply want to see you in action, and give you the best chance to get the job.
  • Remember this is already what you do for a living! You are already very good at it, so just treat the role play call like you would any other call. You will do much, much better than you think.

Good luck!

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