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5 Role-Play Exercises to Improve Performance

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Recruitment Consultants usually drag their feet when it comes to another role-play session.

That's because they are traditionally unrelated to a consultant's actual role. They can feel silly or uncomfortable to perform in front of peers and are perceived as a waste of time.

However, if you want to prepare your team for success, it is time to throw this notion out.

Role-play is one of the most effective tools in recruitment training. It is underutilized and undervalued by many but has the potential to instill confidence that will drive success.

Below is a curated account of 5 effective recruitment specific role-play exercises and tips on how to run them.

5 Effective Recruitment Role-Play Exercises

1. Off the cusp (Warm-up Exercise)

2. Who is it going to be?

3. Objection Handling

4. Pitch Perfect

5. Talk to an expert

Exercise #1: Off the Cusp

This is a great exercise to start any training session because it doubles as an ice breaker.

This exercise will improve your Recruitment Consultants listening skills. It will help them move past pre-planned responses and agendas and be more engaged in client and candidate conversations.

This exercise is perfect for large groups but can also be done with as few as two people.

Set-up: Have everyone sit around a table or in a circle with chairs. Be prepared; this exercise is meant to be done in rapid-fire.

Step 1. A designated person will start the group off by saying any sentence of their choice out loud. This can be completely random, or if you wish, it can be related to your recruitment vertical.

Step 2. The person immediately to the left will say another sentence; it must begin with the last three words of the previous person's sentence.

Step 3. Keep going around the circle, allowing everyone to participate a few times.

Variation: If you wish to kick it up a notch, eliminate people as you go if they are too slow or respond incorrectly.

Exercise #2: Who Is It Going to Be?

The goal of this exercise is to prepare your Recruitment Consultants for the different types of people that they will be speaking to. This includes people in various positions with different personality types.


  1. You will need two different hats (or bowls) to draw from. The first will contain a list of positions within a target organization.

  2. The second hat will have a list of personality traits or situational prompts. Feel free to get creative with these; there are many different directions that you could take it.

Step 1.Select one person as the Recruitment Consultant, and the other as the target organization. The person selected as the target organization needs to draw one card from both hats. This will establish who they are, and what the circumstances of the call will be.

Step 2. Begin the role play by having the Recruitment Consultant 'call' the target organization contact. They will both act out a cold call conversation from there. 

Step 3. Have the group discuss the call and offer any feedback or tips that they may have. Repeat as many times as you would like, or until you have gone through all the prompts.

Exercise #3: Objection Handling

Your Recruitment Consultants will face rejection. This exercise will minimize the panic and nerves they will feel when they get rejected. It will also help them think on their feet when responding. This exercise can be quite fun and serves as an excellent opportunity for team bonding.

Formation: Have everyone sit around a table or in a circle with chairs.

Step 1.Select someone to begin, and they will pick another person in the group and call out an objection at them that they have heard at some point in their career.

Step 2. The selected Consultant will then have 5 seconds to respond. Their response needs to impact the conversation positively.

Step 3. If the Recruitment Consultant responds well, they will then pick an objection for another Consultant in the circle.

You are the judge in this exercise. If you feel their response is not adequate, the person can be eliminated. The last one standing wins. Make sure all your Consultants are providing individual responses. If they say something that has already been said, then they are eliminated.

Exercise #4: Pitch Perfect

This exercise will bring the pressure up and incite some healthy competition amongst your team.

Formation: Stand facing the consultants. The consultants will be in a single file line facing you.   

Step 1. The Consultant that is first in line will begin their pitch. They will start with introducing who they are and their organization, what they do, and how they can help a prospective client.

Step 2.If, at any point, during the pitch, you deem it as 'imperfect,' you can buzz, and the Consultant will move to the back of the line. You may buzz if they take a lengthy pause, misspeak, etc.

Step 3. The second Consultant in line will step-up and immediately begin their pitch. Continue to cycle through the Consultants until everyone has done a 'perfect pitch.'


  • Have each Consultant start their pitch in the exact spot that the previous Consultant was buzzed out. 

  • Cycling through the same way as before, have consultants pitch a job to a candidate or pitch a candidate to a client.

Exercise #5: Talk to an Expert 

So far, these exercises have better prepared your team to speak with key contacts in target organizations. But before throwing them to the wind, there is a final exercise that has proven to be beneficial.

Everyday Recruitment Consultants speak to CEOs, Human Resources Manager's, and other Senior Management. Have them finish off by speaking to the people who hold those roles inside their organization.

This is one of the best exercises to initiate during the end of orientation and training week. It allows new members of the organization to get comfortable and acquainted with Senior Management.

Step 1. Ask Senior Management if they would be willing to take part in a training exercise that will take approximately 30 minutes of their time. 

Step 2.Pair the CEO, HR Manager, or other senior management each with a Recruitment Consultant. If there are more consultants than senior management, make the smallest groups possible.

Step 3. The Recruitment Consultant will 'cold call' their Senior Management Partner. They will introduce themselves, their organization, and what they do. Senior management simply needs to play themselves and react to how they would if they received this call.

Step 4. Once the role play is complete, have the Recruitment Consultant and their partner discuss the call. What went well? What did not? Senior management will have some great advice and insight, so make sure your Consultants pay close attention! 

Three Tips for Running a Successful Role-Play Exercise

1. Be consistent: Training is not a one-time thing. People are looking for continuous learning and upskilling throughout their careers. Put in place a training schedule that will allow your team to practice and perfect what they are being taught. Make sure your Recruitment Consultants are aware of when the training is taking place. They need to know what they will be doing in each session (objectives and benefits). Do not spring the role-play exercises on them!

 2. Use real examples: Role-play exercises should be relevant to your Recruitment Consultant's day-to-day job. If there is a job that they are having trouble pitching or an objection they are struggling to overcome, incorporate it into these exercises. Open the floor to discuss after each role-play. People who were not in the 'hot seat' can share how they have handled similar situations.

 3. Provide Direct Feedback:Provide feedback throughout these exercises. If you notice a Recruitment Consultant has made a significant mistake, do not let them continue with the task. Interject and kindly point out where the Consultant went wrong and how they could improve the next time around. Have them pick back up from right before the mistake was made, this time implementing your feedback. If you only have minor feedback, save it for the group discussion at the end.

The Importance of Role-Play in Recruitment

Role-play exercises will increase your team's confidence with candidates and clients. Their communication and listening skills will improve. They will become equipped to handle any situation that comes their way.

Encourage your team to keep an open mind when participating in these exercises. The more they lean in, the more they will see the benefits.