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Role play interviews can come in handy whether you're a job seeker looking to brush up on your skills or an employer or manager who wants to help your staff learn something new. As a job seeker, you might use a role play interview to prepare for the actual job interview. As an employer, use role play to act out scenarios your employees might encounter.
Play the Part of the Interviewee
Before a job interview, role play the questions you might be asked. Get a friend or colleague to help you. Have your friend play the part of the interviewer, and give her a set of questions. The questions you come up with should pertain to the job. For example, a job in sales might include questions about your sales style or how you handle rejection. To add value to the exercise, get your friend to play a tough prospect who responds negatively to your sales pitch, forcing you to come up with ways to convince her that your product is worth buying.
Then Switch Roles
Another helpful exercise is to play the part of the interviewer, suggests Alison Green in a column for U.S. News & World Report. Playing the role of the hiring manager helps you get insight into the mind of the interviewer and can help settle your nerves or allay your fears. Like the role play interview in which you played the interviewee, ask standard questions such as, "Explain how your greatest strength fits with the needs of our company." Ask the interviewee for more detail on answers that sound too generic or canned. Also, play the part of a tough customer who does not agree with the other person's point of view or is not satisfied with her explanations.
Practicing Your Delivery
Use your research into the job and the company to anticipate the types of conflicts, decisions, skills or persuasive arguments you might have to make, and then practice role plays that deal with those issues. Also important: how you deliver your responses. Practice using open body language, keeping your legs crossed at the ankles and not at the knees, and keeping your arms uncrossed. During your role play interview, sit up straight and lean in a little, showing that you're interested and attentive. Practice making eye contact. Smile and try to appear enthusiastic about the position. When you answer questions, practice lowering the pitch of your voice a little, as it can help you avoid the high-pitched voice that so often comes with being nervous, suggests Carol Kinsey Goman in Forbes.
Job Training Role Play
If you're already employed and you're tasked with training other employees, role play interviews can also come in handy. By simulating situations workers might encounter, you'll help them become more confident and capable. If you're creating a role playing scenario, resist the urge to create the most difficult situation you can imagine -- at least at first. For example, you might not want to start off tackling what someone would do if he suspected an employer was doing something fraudulent. Instead, start with a relatively easy scenario, such as handling a customer who doesn't want to buy a product, and then make the scenarios more difficult as you go along. After each round of role play, talk to employees about what worked and what didn't, and then repeat the role playing again.
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Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.