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Job Simulation vs Skills Assessment Test

When it comes to sourcing candidate evaluation software, too many recruiters think that a job simulation and a skills assessment test are the same things. 

Like it or not, many traditional recruitment processes are flawed, outdated, and cost companies more than what they’re worth. For hiring managers and recruiters who have grown tired of tools like resume screening and interviews, exploring options for effective and efficient candidate evaluation software can feel daunting. 

Thankfully, a little bit of research online will usually deliver one of two results as an alternative: a job simulation, or a skills assessment test. Designed to streamline the hiring process while identifying top talent, both of these modern recruitment tools are making waves for all of the right reasons – but what if we told you that while both are incredibly effective, one is considered to be newer, better, and truly immersive?

Despite their growing popularity, too many people make the mistake of believing that job simulations and skills assessment tools are interchangeable terms used to describe the same type of product. In order to make the most of their potentially lucrative benefits, hiring managers need to understand the key points of difference. 

Comparing a job simulation and a skills assessment test

Technically speaking, a job simulation is a type of skills assessment. Many candidate evaluation software companies will claim to offer job simulations as a part of a technical skills assessment test, but these are rarely more than multiple-choice questionnaires that have been embellished for the sake of promoting a buzzword.

According to Omer Molad, Co-Founder and CEO at Vervoe, an authentic job simulation tests the skills of an applicant in the specific context and working environment of a job. 

“The terminology often gets mixed up, but a skills assessment is the test itself, and a job simulation is a question type that puts an applicant in the working environment of the job.”

As someone who has made a career out of encouraging companies to hire on merit instead of background, it’s Omer’s belief that organizations need to understand the core differences between what seperates mediocre skills assessment software from the truly great immersive experiences. As technology continues to advance, job simulations are emerging as a new form of skills testing that is set to shape the future of recruitment.

“During the hiring process, customer service questions and tasks using video and text are common examples of basic skills assessments. However, resolving actual support tickets in a desktop environment that looks like Zendesk is a job simulation. In a nutshell, a job simulation is the closest thing to seeing someone perform a role through an immersive experience.”

With the knowledge that a job simulation can elevate a standard skills assessment, how do you know what types of roles recruiters should be using them for? Firstly, you need to get familiar with the basics of how a technical skills assessment test should work. 

Understanding how skills assessment tools for recruitment work

Finding quality candidates who have what it takes to thrive in a role is no easy feat. Not only are you looking for a needle in a haystack in an already candidate-scarce market, but you’re also likely relying on recruitment tools that don’t necessarily tell the full story of an applicant’s full capabilities. 

Instead of relying on resume screening and personality tests to find your diamond in the rough, a skills-based approach seeks to find the candidate whose hard and soft skills best align with the responsibilities and duties of your open position. 

What should a skills assessment test cover

While a technical skills test can cover task-related assessments such as coding, copywriting, or sales, some pre-employment assessments integrate the less tangible capabilities – things like teamwork and leadership. These qualities are sought after by executives at more than 900 companies, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of executives. 

Despite their benefits, these in-demand soft skills are often assessed via personality tests, which have since been debunked as pseudoscience by Dr Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Instead, it’s recommended to prioritize, inclusivity, diversity, and skills-based hiring for a workplace culture worth celebrating. 

Fundamentally, a high-quality skills test should ask a variety of questions in different formats to see how candidates perform on-the-job tasks. It should include questions that are capable of being answered by someone already doing the job, and can accurately measure key performance metrics. 

Questions should also be specifically tailored to relate to the responsibilities of an open position, and less focused on an applicant’s background. Although a growing number of recruiters are becoming fans of job simulations to speed up the hiring process, the real power of these types of immersive experiences lies in their ability to empower companies to hire with confidence. 

How a job simulation can supercharge a technical skills assessment test

Despite claiming to offer such features, very few skills assessments include fully immersive experiences, such as job simulations. In fact, Vervoe is one of the very few enterprises that offer truly authentic job simulations, with examples including tasks like Zendesk ticketing or coding challenges designed to mimic how a candidate performs when faced with a real-life scenario. 

Although the success of a simulation isn’t directly tied to a specific industry or role, they’re rapidly becoming an essential technical skills assessment test for any highly skilled role that is task-based – but when and how should they be deployed for hiring success?

When should job simulations be added to the hiring process

Harvard Business Review research shows that some job simulations incorporated into a technical skills test should come early in the hiring process. According to their study, many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.

As the name would suggest, an authentic job simulation is as close as an applicant will get to a real day in your workplace. In the same environment, with the same requirements and armed with the same resources, a candidate will have the chance to truly experience what working for a particular organization is like, while the hiring manager can assess their capabilities fairly, efficiently, and without bias. 

How key industries are benefiting from work simulations

An example of how job simulations are revolutionizing the hiring process can be found in cybersecurity recruitment. As one of many sectors struggling with a skills shortage, finding top talent has proven tricky for many organizations – especially when the task of recruiting for these highly skilled roles is cautioned by someone without the same level of experience.

Instead of making decisions based on guesswork and goodwill, forward-thinking recruiters are now deploying job simulations to validate and verify a cybersecurity professional’s skills. Instead of relying on resumes and degrees, a job simulation will place the applicant in a network that has the capacity to host HTML content using Apache, and configure firewalls in Linux. Don’t take a candidate’s word on how good they are – let them show you. 

Considering that 78% of job seekers have admitted to lying on their resumes, job simulations are essential for separating fact from fiction in order to identify top talent. What’s worse, is the fact that the biggest fib was candidates enhancing their resumes with in-demand career skills that they don’t actually have – but is this the only reason to make hiring decisions based on skills testing?

Benefits of using work simulations to hire staff across different departments
Fundamentally, a job simulation can be defined as an immersive experience where a candidate can get as close to a real day in your workplace as possible.

4 key advantages of skills-based hiring 

If you had coffee with Roger Federer, it would quickly become evident that he’s a nice guy. It’s also highly likely that his high school grades won’t tell you anything about his skills, and nor will a personality assessment that indicates his status as an introvert. To identify talent like Federer, you simply need to see them play on the court. 

In the world of recruitment, every “court” is different. Depending on the role, some positions may need to complete a job skills assessment test to gauge proficiency in Microsoft Excel, while others will need a fully immersive job simulation to verify a candidate’s coding skills. 

Whatever the role’s requirements, hiring based on skills – or merit, and not background – is rapidly becoming integral to recruitment strategies across a wide range of sectors. Today, 82% of companies use some form of pre-employment assessment tests, according to the recent Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research report. When you find out the primary benefits of doing so, it’s easy to understand why. 

1. Identifies top talent

Outdated recruitment practices such as resume screening can often do more harm than good, as potentially great candidates get screened out, rather than screened in. So-called “pedigree proxies”, such as resumes and cover letters, are not indicative of job performance – yet they are often the quickest way a recruiter or algorithm can think of to cut down on their stack of candidate resumes. To make data-driven decisions, a job skills assessment test removes the guesswork of identifying top talent. What’s more, is that finding the right person for the job the first time can work wonders when it comes to reducing attrition as well. 

2. Reduces human bias

According to research from McKinsey, corporations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors, and 70% more likely to capture new markets. Using a job skills assessment test can also help companies avoid discriminating against candidates based on gender, age, or race since recruiters will base their decisions on a candidate’s proven competencies. Often used to differentiate between candidates that present similar on paper, skills assessments provide an additional visibility on someone’s suitability to a role via skills; encouraging inclusivity and diversity in the workplace

3. Keeps companies compliant

Some forms of psychometric testing, such as personality tests, lack the proper validation required to be compliant with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). What’s more, is that new legislation being introduced across the United States, in particular New York City, is soon to restrict employers from using recruitment screening tools powered by artificial intelligence. To make efficient and discretionary decision-making while still staying compliant, job simulations are one of the few skills assessment tools that will help companies to adhere to the relevant legislation. 

4. Cost-effective recruitment

Employee turnover costs can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Depending on the size of your business, the total cost of replacing an employee varies from 30-150% of their salary. This amount represents a substantial expense for a business of any size, especially during a period when many parts of the world are seeing the tightest labor market in decades. While using skills assessment tools is highly effective for finding the right person for the job, they’re also great for hiring managers looking to reduce the time they spend on manually sifting through resumes or interviewing candidates. 

If you aren’t already using skills testing as a part of your recruitment process, you’re risking your company’s reputation, finances, and ability to attract top candidates. What’s more, is that you’re missing out on the technology that powers job simulations, which are predicted to soon become a standalone recruitment tool in their own right. 

Advantages of skill-based hiring when recruiting a professional workforce
82% of companies use some form of pre-employment assessment tests, as skills based hiring has four key advantages – it identifies top talent, reduces human bias, keeps companies compliant and is cost effective for recruitment.

How Vervoe is reinventing skills assessment tools

Vervoe is an end-to-end AI-powered solution that is proudly revolutionizing the hiring process through skills testing and job simulations. By empowering businesses to create tailored assessments designed to suit the specific requirements of a role, Vervoe predicts performance using job simulations that showcase the talent of every candidate.

By assessing an applicant’s ability to perform the role through a skills assessment, our AI-powered job simulations focus on the work — and not the person. To see people do the job before they get the job, book a demo today and let our experienced team run you through Vervoe’s full range of ready-made and tailored solutions.

Angela Wallace

Angela Wallace

"Angie Wallace is a self-proclaimed word nerd, big thinker, and retired tourism wizard who believes in the art of reinvention every five years—a ritual she considers essential for all good millennials. With a career spanning various roles in the tourism and digital marketing sectors, Angie has amassed a wealth of experience and expertise. She began her journey as a General Manager at Sailing Whitsundays, where she honed her skills in e-commerce and general management over five years. Transitioning into the digital realm, Angie took on roles such as Content Writer at Content Hive, where she specialized in copywriting and marketing, and Content Specialist at Vervoe, focusing on marketing and search engine optimization. Outside of her professional endeavors, Angie is an avid caffeine enthusiast, a connoisseur of in-flight eye masks, and a fan of garage sales and Louis Theroux documentaries. And, occasionally, she indulges in the whimsy of writing about herself in the third person."

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