When it comes to internal hiring, very few staffing websites actually post information about a career in recruiting. This is probably not an oversight; it’s because staffing firms already have a long line of potential employees parading through their offices. And when they find real gems, I’m told they keep them for their own devices.

But do staffing agencies need to enliven the hiring process by reaching further than their desk chair can roll?

I recently noticed that HAYS, a worldwide recruiting firm, has a separate site devoted to internal hiring, and it’s loaded with relevant information. They’ve also created two interactive tools for prospective recruiters – one is a career navigator that addresses issues like upward mobility – and the other is a recruitment simulation tool titled the “HAYS challenge.”

It's an invitation for prospective recruiters to screen applicants and make decisions that earn points for the firm. I dove in headfirst, excited about playing checkers with other peoples' careers (albeit fake ones).

SPOILER ALERT – If you wish to take the Hays Challenge without cheating, go do it now. Then come right back.

First, I had to fill a 3-month vacancy for a “dynamic media agency.” After reviewing all four candidates' pleas, though I hadn’t scribbled a single note, I knew Sarah was the best choice. In retrospect, maybe body language is the foundation on which candidates' skillsets either stand strong or wobble. I had always thought of nonverbal cues as ornamental bonuses. But Sarah, with her smiley and relaxed demeanor, exuded a hire-me spell, while Ian dropped out of consideration altogether by looking intensely gloomy.

The next task required more careful thought, as I had to arrange three destinies appropriately. I needed to recommend one of them for an architectural gig in Shanghai, one of them for a career move, and one of them to stay put. Although I quickly understood Paulo was a shoe-in for the position, I felt a twinge of guilt and an impractical desire to give someone else a chance, since Paulo had already taken the reins on an international architectural project in Brazil. Paradoxically, the same reason I hired him was the same reason I thought it unfair to hire him.

So far, the decisions were intuitive but oddly gut-wrenching... and all I was doing was clicking buttons!

In the last task, I was prompted to select two follow-up questions to “ask” the potential client's CEO in order to show the right attitude and win their business. (Basically, if you choose open-ended questions, you’ll score big. If you ask to see a copy of their annual report, you’ll be chided and awarded the default thousand points)

Upon completion, the host lauded me with praise and told me I had scored a total of 49.000 points. (Doesn't it look like I was just 1,000 off from a perfect score of 50,000?) But there was no denominator – no indication of what my score could have been, had I answered perfectly.  In order to find out, I had to redo the tasks, answering differently each time. The top score appears to be 57,000 and rock bottom is somewhere near 21,000.

It would be unfair to judge this tool as an accurate representation of life in the staffing trenches, but I do think it waters down the hardest parts of the job, like real-time decision-making in front of a client or jobseeker. Without prompting from a host, would untrained people truly understand what to look for?

In any case, it's a great ego-boost and a way to appeal to an applicant's sense of accomplishment. And interactive videos are much more memorable than surveys or quizzes. Perhaps these types of assessment tools could be used more often for other industries as well. Is half the battle simply attracting folks and letting them fulfill their curiosity by acting out a day-in-the-life of a (fill in the blank)? The “what would you do” factor would play out well in a complaints department, and certainly in teaching and child care. Maybe a positive simulation experience can lead to confidence and success in a real world job.

As a side note, this is also a great tool for job applicants. It helps immensely to sit on the other side of the desk. At least I've learned to smile more, and never to furrow my brow. (No offense, Ian).

Tags: Technology, Internal hiring, Internal recruitment, Hays Challenge, Hays Recruitment, Interactive tool, Simulation, Virtual