If you are going to have to do a role play exercise as part of a job assessment process or interview, you might expect to be told in advance. This gives you time to think about the skills that an interviewer will be looking for and to do some preparation. However, as was seen on Channel 4’s new television series The Job Interview earlier this week, this isn’t always the case.

The Job Interview follows candidates and interviewers during interviews for a variety of jobs, and this week’s episode saw a company called Low Cost Vans recruiting for a new customer service adviser. The job was a largely phone based role and candidates were asked a variety of questions to find out more about their skills, backgrounds and reasons for applying.

The candidates were then told that they were about to do a role play exercise, and this was clearly a surprise to most of them. The exercise involved one of the interviewers leaving the room and phoning the candidate, pretending to be an unhappy customer. The full episode can be seen on Channel 4 and provides a useful insight in to what not to do as well as how to handle such situations.

The exercise was as much about seeing how candidates think as it was about their customer service skills, and a candidate’s ability to listen to customers and calm difficult situations is key when it comes to customer service. As Alison at Power Resourcing says: “One of the key skills that most employers look for is the ability to think on your feet and deal with a range of situations, so be prepared for the unexpected!”.