A role-play is great at showing the assessors how you would respond in real-life to the problems or challenges you may encounter in a more senior post.

Roleplays are ‘job simulation’ exercises. That means the roleplay copies key elements of the role you are applying for, so your performance provides a realistic insight into how successfully you might manage the role

Example possible roleplay scenarios are:

  • Dealing with an under-performing member of your team
  • Needing to influence someone from the public or partner agency towards your agenda
  • Evaluating information as it arises to make decisions on ways forward with a colleague
  • Working with team members on an issue to reach best outcomes

Exercise Setting

You won’t know what the scenario will be before the assessment day, but it will be something relevant to the role you are applying for. The first part of the exercise will be preparation time where you will have 15 or 20 minutes or so to read the background to the situation and prepare for you meeting/ encounter. The next part fo the exercise will be the actual interaction with the role-player, where you will need to draw on the information you have just read to deal with the issues/ problems and find a way forward.

Many FRS now use exercises which have a fictitious FRS setting. This means your role will be that of a Crew or station manager for example (depending on the level you are applying to) and the situation will be FRS based.

Sometimes assessment exercises are set in a different context. This is to make it fair to everyone, irrespective of their experience. Don’t be thrown off track; the scenario might look a little different but the skills you are being tested on will be the same. You will be clear what the scenario is about before you start.

The reading you will do before the exercise is just one part of the information available to you. the role-player will have other information which will become clear during your interaction- provided you listen and ask questions appropriately!

The exercise will be held in a room which will be set up as a meeting room or office i.e. there will probably be a table with chairs around it.


Flexibility – you will need to think on your feet and adapt to new information as it is shared with you

Communication – you will need to be clear about your perspective, gather information effectively and listen to the other people involved in the scenario

Problem Solving – you will need to find resolution to the issues you are presented with. there wont be a specific right or wrong way of doing this, it will be up to you to work with the person/people you are dealing with to find ways forward

People Skills – you will need to use your own approach to deal with the others involved in the exercise, managing them as you see fit, using cooperation, influencing, setting expectations and addressing under-performance as appropriate.

Planning – you may well be assessed on how you plan to move the issue forward. this will involve establishing clear actions and next steps.

You may not perform well in all the different areas being assessed. Your best strategy is to not worry about what is begin assessed and simply respond to the situation as it unfolds.

The biggest mistake people make in their roleplay is being overly concerned with what competencies/ PQAs are being assessed and trying to respond in a way to hit all of these points. The result is a stilted interaction which doesn’t do the person justice and doesn’t provide the assessors with the evidence they need to make an accurate evaluation of the candidate’s potential

Other Roles

In addition to yourself there will be the role-player(s) in the room, and one or two assessors who will sit unobtrusively taking notes throughout the exercise. This is to help them with their later evaluation of your performance against the assessment criteria.

Your focus will be entirely on the role-player who will have information and difficulties they are expecting you to help with. The role-players will probably be professional actors who will enter the assessment room ‘in character’. You will know who they are from the information given to you in the preparation time.


The difficulty of this type of exercise is that it can make you feel quite apprehensive. This is normal and the assessors understand this will likely be the case. You will need to overcome this to take a confident approach so you come across as a credible manager. Another pressure will be in the timescales. There will probably be quite a lot to assimilate and tackle in a short amount of time. You will know how much time has been allocated so you need to keep an eye on this and try to manage the issues within that time-frame.


The role-players will have a script or guidelines to follow but this won’t be obvious to you. You will know what the meeting/ interaction will be about, what your objectives are and some other background information to the situation. The role-player will respond to what you are saying. They will have certain lines which they will cover but these will all be in response to how you are proceeding and it will seem natural, like a normal conversation or meeting. The actors will adapt to you, so your performance will influence how they present their information and respond to you.

Your role-play may be one to one (you and one actor in conversation) or a multiple or group role-play where you will interact with two or more individuals. You won’t usually have more than two or three actors as this makes it difficult to hear you amongst what everyone one else has to say.

Remember, you will be yourself, although you will be in a different job role to the one you have now. The other person or people involved in the interaction will be actors.

The role-play will be relevant to the skills you will need to bring to your promoted role.

Next Page: Preparing for your Role-play

Whether you have attended an ADC before or this is your first time, you need to be prepared for your roleplay to make sure…..

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