Monday, April 23, 2007

Role plays - why do them?

Whenever I run a workshop, I put index cards at the end of each table and allow people to write down their burning questions. I either answer a couple of them at the beginning of each new session or wait until the end of the workshop and answer them as a whole.

In the UX management workshop, run at the IA Summit, we had a number of questions asked and we sat down as a group and answered them. For the next few weeks I am going to go through each question, write down the answers from the workshop and add more details.

First one
Why do a role play for job interviews? Can you give us a couple of examples and why you do them? I can’t see how it will help me make a decision.

My thoughts…

I do role plays in a second interview, to try and understand a couple of things about a candidate. Firstly I want to see how quickly they can think on their feet when presented with a situation and only 20 minutes to prepare (how often does that happen to you!).

Secondly the role play is usually between a number of my co-workers playing quite obnoxious roles; I want to see how someone will react to the type of interaction that the candidate can shape in this type of situation.

Lastly I want to see them get into the swing of this – the people that are most willing to get into the activity, are probably people who you want to know more. It tell you about how much time and energy they are willing to put into you and the organisation.

Some examples that I’ve used are:
Example 1
Review Home Depot web site and so a small critique. Then go into a meeting with the Marketing Manager and the web designer to talk through their objectives for the web site. The Marketing Manager has been briefed to be enthusiastic about everything that is new and shiny about the web; the web designer is defensive about the web site; the site she designed a couple of years ago and doesn’t know why it needs to be changed.

Example 2
The information architect is going into a workshop with a Financial Institution with one day preparation. We have responded to a Request for Proposal for a micro-site for a new product offering (life insurance for the under 35s), due to be released with an advertising campaign in two months.

The RFP was very unclear to the actual purpose of mini-site; the department who want the mini-site are new to web site and working with Agencies and need help to extract what they want from the site. The role of the IA is to run a workshop that will help understand the product, the audiences for the product and the objectives for the site. He needs to develop an agenda and go through one part of the agenda in the role play.

What do you think? How would this work in your organisation?


Blogger Livia Labate said...

How do you get others to participate? I can barely get people to interview my candidates, much less prepare AND attend a workshop. Thoughts?

Also, would you do this differently for a jr person, just getting started in IA? or someone transitioning from a different field with very little familiarity wit IA (I'm assuming I'll invest in training for both these types, which is why I'd interview them even though they don't have the skills yet).

3:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi, Mags.

I wasn´t able to go the IA Summit this year, so I lost the UX managers workshop. I found very interesting the idea of having a role play in a second interview for senior IAs. But I am not sure that it can be done for junior candidates.

Anyway, I will try do to that at and I will let you know.


1:51 PM  

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