Job Simulations are Gaining Momentum – Here’s Why! - Toggl Hire
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Job Simulations are Gaining Momentum in Modern Hiring Processes – Here’s Why!

James Elliott James Elliott Last Updated:

With the great resignation in full effect, recruiters are constantly looking for ways to modernize their hiring process. Job simulations are becoming more and more popular as the market moves towards more practical ways to screen and assess candidates. 

If you’re new to job simulation tests, this article is for you. We’ll break down exactly what job simulation is, how they’re used to test candidates, and the benefits they deliver for modern recruiters. 

Let’s get into it! 

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Definition – What Does Job Simulation Mean?

“Job simulations are exercises designed to replicate a real-life working environment and may include tasks such as answering calls, completing a skills test, or presenting a report.”

job simulations

What is a Job Simulation Test? 

By extension, job simulation tests assess a candidate’s ability to do a particular role. A job simulation test is seen by many as the best way to truly understand a candidate’s suitability for the position, as you’re essentially asking them to do the actual job.

For candidates, it also gives them an insight into exactly the type of work the role entails, helping them understand if it’s the right role for them.

Especially since the pandemic, many recruiters are leveraging digital technology for online job simulation tests to save on in-person expenses. That’s much easier for the candidate too! 

Bring this together, and you’ll see that job simulations are one of the best all-around recruitment methods, reducing hiring risk by helping recruiters match the right candidates with the right role.  

5 Commonly Used Types of Job Simulation Tests

Job simulation tests come in all different shapes and sizes. If you’re new to job simulations, here are five of the most common formats and when innovative recruiters use them. 

Situation Judgment Tests 

  • What are they? – During a situational judgment test, a candidate is placed into a work-related scenario and asked to use their judgment to overcome it. To make them extra challenging, situational judgment tests often focus on high-pressure or high-conflict situations.
  • Why use them? – Use a situational judgment test to determine how well your candidate makes decisions and interacts with others. They’re great for customer-facing roles or those who will be managing a team.

    When to use them? – Leverage a digital situation judgment testing tool to modernize your hiring process. As such, use them as part of your early screening process to get to know what makes your candidates tick early on. 

In-Basket/In-Tray Exercises

  • What are they? – During an in-basket/in-tray exercise, a candidate is given a series of day-to-day tasks to complete within a set amount of time. This may be answering calls, responding to emails, light admin tasks, or managing a customer complaint. 
  • Why use them? – These exercises are great for understanding how efficiently your candidate completes day-to-day work. They’re most commonly used for administrative/managerial positions.
  • When to use them? – In-basket/in-tray exercises are typically used in the middle stages of the recruitment process to check that the candidate can perform effectively. They can take up to an hour, so use them as part of, or after, the first interview.

Skills Assessments

  • What are they? – Skills assessment tests are used to test a candidate on a particular skill, competency, or knowledge area required for the role. Skills assessments could be used to simulate a real-life coding task, a question from a colleague, or a document review.
  • Why use them? – Skills assessments are great for simulating a very particular aspect of a role. Depending on the type of skills test, they can be used for any type of role but lend themselves to specialized positions such as software developers.
  • When to use them? – Skills assessment tests are designed to be quick and easy to complete. As such, they’re an amazing modern screening tool, helping you modernize early-stage tasks such as resume submission or filter interviews. 

Live Exercises

  • What are they? – Live exercises cover a broad range of simulations such as writing a report, delivering a presentation, or partaking in a workshop. They’re designed to simulate real-life team interactions required for the role.
  • Why use them? – For those required to work collaboratively, present ideas, and lead others, live exercises give recruiters a real insight into performance. Use them for creative, customer-facing, or team leader roles.
  • When to use them? – Like in-basket exercises, these simulations are time-intensive, so save them for the final selection stage. Alternately, these simulations are popular during graduate assessment centers when evaluating multiple candidates at once.


  • What are they? – Role-play exercises are the ultimate job simulation, with candidates thrust into a real-life situation alongside actors. They’re designed to put candidates into an unsettling scenario to see how they work with those around them.
  • Why use them? – They give recruiters an insight into how well candidates can adapt to new and high-stress situations. Use them for managers, leaders, and customer-facing staff who may encounter difficult situations as part of their role.
  • When to use them? – Again, these job simulations take a lot of work. You’ll only want to do them with candidates you’re confident will make the cut as part of the final selection. 
job simulations

Why Choose Job Simulation Tests for Your Hiring – The Benefits

Job simulation tests aren’t just the latest fad, they’re adding real value to recruiters and hiring managers across the globe. 

Here are four key benefits you can gain by adding job simulation tests to your hiring process. 

#1 – Evaluate Job-Specific Skills

Certain roles need a very particular set of skills. The traditional recruitment process is unlikely to help you out here, with resumes and interviews delivering a one-dimensional outcome. 

Job simulations allow you to evaluate specific skills, knowledge, or competencies that a candidate will need to excel in the role. Proving a candidate can actually do the role gives hiring managers confidence while removing hiring risk from the recruiter. 

While it undoubtedly takes additional effort, the more specific you can make your job simulations, the better your end result will be. 

#2 – Well-Rounded Candidate Insights

Job simulations give you insights into a candidate that other hiring methods simply can’t. A challenging job simulation, such as a role-play or situational judgment test, showcases many aspects of a candidate’s personality, allowing you to assess not only how they perform but how they’ll fit into your wider team. 

This well-rounded insight might also help you spot red flags, such as anger, irritation, or dismissiveness. On the other hand, you might be pleasantly surprised and find additional strengths such as compassion, humor, or resilience, which you wouldn’t identify during a traditional interview alone.

If you really want to understand your candidates, job simulations can definitely help with that! 

#3 – Another Touchpoint to Remove Bias

Especially with skills assessment tests, in-tray exercises, and situational judgment tests, you can eliminate bias by relying on job simulation data.

Whether we like it or not, we all harbor some unconscious bias, meaning we naturally favor certain individuals based on their background, characteristics, or personality traits. To get the best and more fair results, remove opportunities for bias wherever possible.  

Job simulations do this by focusing on real-life performance, allowing you to revolve your hiring decisions around who delivers the most productive and efficient results. This ensures you make the right decision each and every time. 

#4 – Enable Self Selection

The worst thing for recruiters is offering a candidate the role only for them to turn it down because they don’t fancy it. Job simulations are the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ for candidates, with those who don’t like the role often dropping out before the final hiring stage. 

Think of job simulations like recruitment’s equivalent of natural selection, allowing you to focus only on the candidates that really want the role. 

Again, job simulations help de-risk the recruitment process, help you optimize your time, and ensure you’re only progressing the candidates who really matter!

Job Simulation Use Case – Toggl Hire x Producement

Ready to see how we do job simulation tests in Toggl Hire? Skills testing is our thing, and it’s not only a great way to test that candidates can do the job, but it saves recruiters time and money in the process. 

Let’s take Producement. They needed to hire top-quality, remote-ready software engineers at scale. Not only did they have a quantity problem, but they had to make sure every hire was up to the job, had the right mindset, and aligned with their culture. 

job simulations

Once they got up and running with Toggl Hire, Producement’s dreams came true as their candidates were automatically sorted into tiers based on their test scores. Candidates not up to the mark didn’t pass and got instant feedback, while top performers zipped through the screening process. 

This led to Producement being able to

  • Automatically filter out 97% of unsuitable candidates ⚙️
  • Save over 400 hours of recruitment team effort ⌛
  • Hire 10+ remote-ready engineers at speed for their clients. 🙌

Like the sound of that? Watch our 1-minute Toggl Hire explainer video to see how it’s done! 


If you want to take your hiring process to the next level, job simulations could be for you. Not only do they help modernize the way you work, but they also help give you, your hiring managers, and your wider business the confidence that your next hire can deliver when it matters. 

So whether it’s situational judgment tests, role plays, or skills assessments, we recommend finding a job simulation test that works for you. After all, why leave it to chance when you can simulate try before you buy with a real-life job simulation test?

James Elliott

James Elliott is a Strategy Manager and Writer from London, UK. When not working on the day job, James writes on a variety of business and project management topics with a focus on content that enables readers to take action and improve their ways of working. You can check out James’ work on his website or by connecting on LinkedIn.

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