How To Prepare For A Virtual Job Simulation/Assessment Centre
May 06, 2021
With hiring processes increasingly taking place online, more and more graduate scheme applications have a job simulation stage. A virtual job simulation is an online assessment that tests skills, behaviour, and personality to judge suitability for the position. This fulfils a similar function to a physical, face-to-face assessment but through online software and video format. The exercises usually include psychometric tests, in-tray exercises, case studies, group exercises, personality inventories, cognitive ability tests, day-in-the-life situations, caselets, etc. In their virtual avatar, these get modified slightly to suit the format.
They’re beneficial for both the employer and for you as a potential employee: the company will be able to assess how well you will be able to perform if hired, and you will be able to experience what you’d be doing as an employee and whether this is a role you could see yourself in.
What does a virtual job simulation test?
Job simulation assessments are often about skills that are difficult to gauge in a CV or even a traditional interview, such as:
- Decision-making skills
- Time management skills
- Critical thinking
- Emotional intelligence when navigating interpersonal challenges
Job simulation assessments often have different stages and can take several different forms, from video and written responses to multiple-choice questions and ranking different options.
Video and written response
This is often related to a task found in a typical workday. You may have to synthesise data or information within an email or present it over video.
During the job simulation assessment at HSBC, you will be presented with fictional data and asked to provide written and video responses to the questions presented, in the specific area of the company, you have applied to work at.
This will be assessed by a person rather than an AI.
This is a common part of job simulation assessments, as you encounter similar situations that you would when employed by the company. In the KPMG job simulation assessment, for example, a task might ask you to consider business challenges faced by three fictional businesses and what you would do, say, or feel. This involves all previous formats of responses: rank-judgements, video, and written. At GSK, the job simulation process involves videos of various fictional situations which you will be asked to respond to through ranking and multiple choice.
This can be assessed by a combination of people and AI.
Situational Judgement Tests
These are used by almost all companies during a job simulation, including EY, KPMG, and PwC. You will be presented with a work-related scenario, and have to make a judgement call.
EY’s job simulation assessment is one example that contains situational judgement tests, which could be related to interpersonal challenges (how to deal with conflict between team members) or how to respond in an unforeseen situation you may encounter in the workplace.
These are normally AI assessed.
Numerical Literacy Tests
Part of the assessment can involve assessing awareness of important vocabulary and concepts of the industry, particularly for finance companies. These are assessed through financial and numerical literacy tests, which can be multiple choice. You may be asked about vocabulary such as revenue, stock index and profit margins as well as percentage calculations related to a specific work task.
The KPMG online practice assessment asks questions related to share prices, cost per month, and rental costs which are multiple-choice.
These are normally AI assessed.
How to best prepare for a virtual job simulation assessment?
Research the company
Researching potential employers is particularly useful for assessments such as situational judgement tests, where you are asked to rank the most appropriate response.
For example, KPMG offers an example situational judgement question on their website, which asks how you would respond to the team’s morale deteriorating as a result of a mistake made by a new joiner. By researching their values, you will be able to rank the responses more appropriately.
Several companies such as GSK and Deloitte use the same software for virtual job simulation assessments: Hirevue Video Response. This allows you to answer a practice video response question, which will not be saved or assessed. It’s a good idea to take your time to complete this to ensure you feel comfortable with the video format and have resolved any potential technological difficulties. HSBC advises using the Capp practice site to become familiar with written and numerical reasoning tests required.
Another way of practicing is finding example situational judgement questions: KPMG uses Cubiks for its situational judgement tests, which offer example questions on their website.
Keep track of time
Sometimes questions on virtual job simulation assessments will have a time limit. Even when they don’t, time taken might be an assessment factor; the Capp practice site used by HSBC assesses both accuracy and time taken to contribute to your overall score, so it’s always a good idea to optimise your time. Make sure you aren’t spending a disproportionately long period of time on some questions and neglecting others. Leave enough time to proofread any written answers, for example. However, don’t worry - the time pressure should not be intense and some, such as Deloitte and KPMG, don’t come with timed conditions at all.
Remember that ‘soft skills’ are also being assessed
Some sections are more difficult to prepare for, as virtual job simulations often aim to assess soft skills such as decision-making, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking. However, you can still prepare for this by remembering to stay calm and relaxed, as this will help you to present in a clear and concise way. When video assessments are viewed by a member of the company, your body language and presentation abilities will also be assessed.
Dress accordingly and find a quiet area
Completing virtual assessments remotely can come with its own logistical challenges, so make sure you are confident of your setup. The Deloitte Student Recruitment team recommends to “find a comfortable and quiet place to complete the assessment, make sure any housemates or family members also know you are taking an assessment – the last thing you want on your video response is a cameo appearance!” Additionally, all companies will recommend dressing formally, as you would in a face-to-face interview.
The same goes for preparing technology-wise: while some companies are using video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams or Google Meet, some others will have a specifically designed company platform, so familiarise yourself with it in advance.
Don’t forget that these assessments can be more accurate than an interview in assessing your suitability for a role, and that job interviews are a two-way street: you will be able to see whether this is a position that you will enjoy as well.
Written by Leeza Isaeva. Leeza is a history student at the University of Cambridge.
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash