Recruiting top college students can be challenging. Gaining a future employee’s attention, differentiating your company from the competition, and learning the candidate’s real skills are no easy task. That’s why many Fortune 500 companies have begun to implement business simulations into their college recruiting and internship programs – and they’ve found that these simulations are paying huge dividends.

The Problem With Internships

Starting the recruiting process as early as a candidate’s sophomore year helps both the student and the recruiter better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship.

Traditionally, companies have used internships to connect with young talent, but internship programs don’t always give employers the best insights into a student’s skills. Because interns are not experienced full-time employees, it is risky to trust them with real deliverables. The result is that employers do not get to see the student’s full capabilities at work. Furthermore, the practice of only allowing interns to perform menial tasks often makes interns feel less engaged with the company during the recruitment process.

Bringing Business Simulations to Smaller Companies

Historically, business simulations have been reserved for the largest of the Fortune 500 companies. These companies typically have large pools of interns and budgets that are big enough to accommodate the expenses associated with custom business simulations.

Over the last few years, however, this has started to change. More and more smaller companies are utilizing tailored and off-the-shelf simulations, especially one-day simulations that allow companies to see firsthand how potential recruits act in various real-life business scenarios. The process doesn’t need to take long, and simulations can give interns and managers the chance to learn about one another. With a well-designed business solution, a top recruit can be the CEO for a day – and recruiters can see just what kind of CEO that student would be.

Why Business Simulations?

Business simulations give employers a way to increase student engagement while also getting a more robust view of students’ skills and capacities. College recruits find these day-long business game exceptionally exciting, challenging, and rewarding. They are excited to go through the exercises, and their levels engagement tend to rise significantly. They’re not just sitting in an office doing busy work – they are working side-by-side with managers engaging real-time business games against their fellow interns.

SoccerThe best candidates excel in these types of exercises, and the program debriefs are often filled with aha moments and extremely rich conversations about the company, the business, and the students’ potential roles within the enterprise.

Managers find the time working with interns exceptionally valuable because it allows them to really get to know the candidates in their talent pipelines on levels that piles of resumes could never reach.

Managers also report that business simulations drastically reduce both time-to-hire and time spent on onboarding. Watching interns in real-world situations gives managers the information they need to make better hires, which leads to better cultural fits, increased productivity, and lengthier tenures.

The business simulations can also serve as learning opportunities for the managers themselves: Watching interns in action can teach them a lot about business acumen, contemporary trends, and modern candidate/consumer behavior.

In essence, a one-day business simulation lets interns and college recruits tackle high-level business challenges without any risk to the business. In this single day of activity, students and managers can learn as much as they would in the span of an entire internship.

Business Simulations can be used for recruitment, leadership development, and much more. Thankfully, these traditionally expensive tools have become more accessible to more companies, which means more employers can leverage their value in order to make better hires – particularly when it comes to college recruits.

The trend of utilizing business simulations, business games, and gamification in recruiting and hiring is certain to grow. Engaging students early on in the recruitment process is critical, and simulations can help employers do just that.

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