How a Behavioral Simulator Supports Companies in Finding the Best Fitting Employees

The primary concern of any recruiter is understanding the real attitude of a candidate in work life. SkillGym has developed an immersive tool that provides the assessors with a detailed mapping of the candidate’s prevailing behaviors demonstrated when working other people.
Alessandro Guerrini
Project Leader
11 min read

The recruiter’s primary concern

A recruiter has the difficult task of observing a number of unknown people and identifying among them the most suitable person to fill the company’s vacant position. He carefully reads their resumes, which allows him to learn a series of objective data: where they studied, how many languages they speak, where they worked before, etc.

He then meets in person the candidates with the most interesting resumes, where he has the opportunity to personally verify their technical knowledge as well as their ability to present their best qualities.


The recruiter knows very well that the person right in front of him is not the candidate in his daily working life: he is the candidate presenting the best version of himself.

A car salesman focuses on the best qualities of the SUV when showing it to the customer: high performance, leather interior, cutting-edge multimedia system, etc. It’s only after buying the vehicle that the customer realizes the high fuel consumption in the city or how complicated pairing it with his smartphone is.

Similarly, a person who is putting himself on the line to get the job he wants will describe himself by hiding his own flaws and focusing on his strengths.


But what will be the candidate’s real way of behaving once hired? Will he be collaborative with colleagues? Will he be able to deal with problems and interact with the rest of the group to find the most effective solutions?

If the recruiter had a time machine during the interview, he would definitely want to travel six months ahead to see if that guy who’s answering “Of course, I work very well under pressure!” would really know how to keep calm when it’s only two days until the software delivery date and the development team still has no idea how to fix the bug they’ve been working on for a week.

As Robert McKee wrote: “True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature”. [1]


It is only when we are faced with concrete choices that we reveal our true personality.

Of course, the recruiter can use work behavior questionnaires. Many solutions available on the market offer scientifically well researched forms that aim to map the behaviors acted at work.
But the limits of these tools are the level of abstraction from a real and concrete situation.

The candidate will be faced with a list of theoretical questions, such as:

  • When working on your tasks, do you take a lot of care with details?
  • Do you always check the details of your work?
  • Do you rapidly absorb new information and facts? [2]


Before answering, the candidate will always ask himself the same thing: what is the answer that best reflects the image I want to convey?
The candidate has in mind which skill that the question is aimed to measure and he will naturally look for the best way to answer.

Once again, the direct risk is having a biased version of the candidate: a form of idealization that has not been filtered by real experience.

[1] R. McKee (1997). Story. Substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting. HarperCollins Publishers.
[2] All of these questions are taken from real assessment questionnaires


Know your candidate, know his attitude

To fill this gap, Lifelike has developed SkillGym Attitude: a digital role play that involves the user in a familiar, realistic, decontextualized situation to measure the candidate’s real approach when interacting with other people.

Through an immersive relational simulation that winds along five episodes that are interconnected, the simulator maps the prevailing attitude within a range of five values (proactive, active, responsive, durable and saboteur).


The prevailing attitude is the weighted result of 45 observable behaviors that are analyzed by a computational algorithm throughout the course of the simulation.
In addition to a concise formulation of the prevailing attitude, the simulator provides a timely assessment of the 45 individually observable behaviors and allows for a weighted aggregation in a customizable map of skills.

More in-depth information about SkillGym Attitude’s methodology will be included in an upcoming article dedicated to this topic.


An ordinary situation anyone can imagine himself in

The simulated situation has been developed based on users between 25 and 35 years old to parallel the primary age range applying for entry and middle level positions.

The plot revolves around a situation that looks familiar to all: organizing a weekend with friends at the seaside. During the simulation, the user will have to manage unforeseen events, find solutions, reconcile conflicting positions.

The setting in a non-work context is a key element: the user has to be involved in a typical situation where he feels free to be spontaneous and to speak his mind, such as dealing with his friends and family.


Although the characters with whom he interacts are not real friends and real family members, the user experiences a sense of involvement and identification, created by three typical factors in the SkillGym simulators:

  • All the characters are portrayed by real actors, who address the user directly, asking questions and reacting to the user’s inputs.
  • Each character in the simulation has his own personality and specific character traits. In addition, thanks to the artificial intelligence algorithms, each character’s reaction is consistent with the way the user interacted with him during the entire conversation.
  • While waiting for the user’s interaction, the characters move and express their moods through non-verbal language. These messages are important to observe, because they are the first signal that makes us understand the effect that our behavior has caused on them. Like at the cinema, the lens of the camera becomes the eye of the spectator, and the realism of the story creates links with his personal life experience, making him perceive what he is observing as the reflection of reality. According to Metz, “The activity of perception that cinema involves is a replica of reality in a new kind of mirror”. [3]


The leisure setting and the immersive scenario of the simulator facilitate the user’s spontaneous answers according to his true personality.

At the same time, the tool asks the user to put in place his best abilities, putting himself out there, understanding and adapting to the context and relating to others effectively. In other words, he has to use all of the soft skills that make the difference in work life and that make a person a good person with whom to collaborate.

Furthermore, Lifelike is currently working on new stories to fit the senior level profiles. This scenario will also be a simulation set in a decontextualized situation.

Again, the smaller the connection with a specific job role, the more spontaneous the answers.

[3] C. Metz (1982). The Imaginary Signifier. Macmillan Press.



How Attitude works

Like every SkillGym’s Digital Role Play, Attitude is a license-based tool provided in Software as a Service (SaaS) mode.


The whole process consists of 4 steps:


  1. Enrollment: the candidate fills in a registration form and then accesses the tool via a dedicated webpage (usually it’s corporatename.skillgym.biz).
  2. Simulation: the candidate completes at least one episode of the Digital Role Play.
  3. Metrics: the tool measures the observable behaviors acted by the user and it evaluates his prevailing approach (among the following: proactive, active, responsive, durable and saboteur).
  4. Feedback: a synthetic, textual feedback is provided to the candidate. At the same time, a detailed, data-driven report is provided to the recruiter.
  5. The data included in the report can report on each of the 45 measured behaviors or, as an alternative, they can be aggregated into a set of skills.


In several cases, SkillGym has been integrated with the customer’s HCM (Human Capital Management) system.
The HCM system sends Attitude the candidate’s information; therefore, Attitude automatically creates the user’s account and it sends him the access e-mail.
At the end of each simulation, SkillGym Attitude sends the results back to the HCM system, using a dedicated web service.


The candidate’s user experience

Once registered to the system, the candidate receives an e-mail containing a link to access the digital role play. Clicking on the link will open a web page to start the simulation.

The system is web-based: no program needs to be installed and it can be used by PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Each candidate can only play the simulation once: afterwards, the link will not allow any further access.


The simulation is composed of five episodes, all connected to each other.
Before starting each episode, a quick overview of the context is provided: where it takes place along with the description of who the user is about to meet.


Below is the list of the five episodes and the related plot:


During the simulation, the user can interact with the characters by choosing among different text answer options. Three sets of options are presented at each step, and the user will have to identify the one that is closest to what he would express in real life.

At the end of each episode, the candidate will be able to choose whether to continue with the next episode or to finish the simulation.

Once completed, the tool displays to the candidate the description of his profile, as emerged from the simulation.

A tool engaging Millennials

The candidates using SkillGym Attitude are typically Millennials: very familiar with digital systems, especially through smartphone.
On the other hand, they are used to short content, direct messages and immediate entertainment. Content would keep their prolonged attention only if involving them from the beginning.


SkillGym Attitude is structured into five episodes, with an overall average duration of about 50 minutes (the effective duration of each simulation is determined by the user’s answer time).

Completing the first episode (average duration: about 10 minutes) is enough to get a complete assessment of all the behaviors, which allows a mapping of even the less involved candidates. The subsequent episodes, if carried out, will allow the evaluation to be refined and to provide increasingly reliable results.


Despite this flexibility, usage data show that almost 90% of users complete all 5 episodes and that the average duration of the assessments is over 40 minutes: SkillGym Attitude is a tool that speaks the language of Millennials by involving them in a prolonged use.


Usage data from a sample of 9,500 Millennial users:

No. of completed episodes Average usage time % of Millennial users
1 12 minutes 4%
2 21 minutes 5%
3 32 minutes 2%
4 41 minutes 3%
5 49 minutes 87%


Of course, the number of episodes completed by each user is tracked by the tool and is included in the report made available to the recruiter. This is also a parameter that will allow candidates to be evaluated.


The benefits for the candidates

As mentioned before, the tool displays to the candidate a textual description of his profile at the end of the simulation.
If requested by the customer, the candidate can also receive an e-mail with a description of his profile and advice on how to improve the effectiveness of his / her interpersonal skills.


In this way, even the unsuccessful candidates will be able to benefit from the application process. The time they have dedicated, the effort they invested during the selection process will not be rewarded with the usual impersonal e-mail, “We carefully reviewed your application and we regret to inform you that your profile doesn’t match with the vacant position”.

The feedback provided is really focused on the candidate and allows him to understand what strengths to improve upon before the next job interview.


The benefits for the hiring company

By accessing a dedicated reserved area, the recruiter can download at any time the results of all the simulations played by the candidates until then.

The report provides an accurate assessment of the behavioral approach of all candidates, with a level of detail that can be personalized according to the customer’s needs.


Nevertheless, the benefits SkillGym Attitude provides to the hiring company are more than this:

  • It improves the employer branding: it provides candidates with an innovative digital tool, appealing to Millennials and providing immediate feedback.
  • It’s a way to improve the brand reputation: all candidates are important, all of them are engaged and all of them receive feedback. And an unsuccessful candidate still remains a potential client, etc.
  • It allows the recruiter to assess all of the candidates who applied for the job. A major pain for large companies that receive thousands of applications for each position is that often the recruiter does not have the time to screen all the profiles of the candidates, with the risk of missing fitting people. With SkillGym Attitude, this first screening can be done without any effort by the recruiter.
  • It provides a reliable and accurate assessment of the actual behavioral skills of the candidate, allowing to evaluate in advance the way the candidate, if hired, will manage the situations in everyday working life.


What behaviors and competencies are measured?

Attitude provides data about the measured 45 observable behaviors, and it aggregates them according to a skill model provided by Lifelike.

Customer can remap the aggregation of behaviors (possibly excluding some) to fit the company’s own model. Accordingly, the system adapts the classification criteria to the specific business needs.


The list of the 45 observable behaviors is below:


Lucidity Consistency between commitments and actions undertaken Use of the network to satisfy the customer
Self-Confidence Clear communication Clear vision of the problem
Attitude to priority change Effectiveness of the arguments Finding a solution
Attitude towards difficulties Understanding the other’s point of view Practicability of the solution
Finding opportunities even in critical situations Management of divergences and agreements Distribution of efforts/resources
Auto-motivation Impact of communication Planning
Personal Availability / Responsibility Active network Search Monitoring
Go beyond Target sharing Flexible use of planning
Generosity Active promotion of the debate Deploying tasks
Medium to long term investment Opening to the debate Removing obstacles
Active Change Research Involvement and collaboration Initiative, willingness to do
Openness Knowledge of Needs Autonomy in execution
Learning speed Customer-centered mentality Responding to the onset of problems
Intellectual honesty Commitment to satisfy the customer Make things happen
Continuous improvement Authoritative relationship Realization


The default skill model provided by Lifelike aggregates these behaviors into 9 competencies that are related to 3 macro areas:

  • The SELF area: the way the user leverages his own resources in a situation. The competences related to this area are: RESILIENCE, ENERGY, LEARNING AGILITY
  • The RELATIONSHIP area: the way the user creates connections with other people in a situation. The competences related to this area are: INFLUENCE, HORIZONTAL INTEGRATION, CUSTOMER ORIENTATION
  • The ACTION area: the way the user understands the context and makes concrete actions to manage a critical task. The competences related to this area are: PROBLEM SOLVING, PLANNING & EXECUTION, INITIATIVE

All these parameters are measured by SkillGym Attitude in a scale from 0 to 100, and they can be included in the detailed results report provided to the assessor.


Some experiences from the field

Released in 2018 in multiple languages, SkillGym Attitude has been used by several companies operating in different industries.

Here’s some success stories.

  • A large Italian group in the Food Retail sector has implemented SkillGym Attitude for the selection of candidates at different positions offered. The company decided to use SkillGym Attitude as the first step of the recruiting process. All the people who applied for the position received an e-mail asking them to self-register and to complete the simulation. The best fitting candidates were contacted by the recruiter for a live interview. More than 7,000 users made the simulation and 86% completed all of the 5 episodes.
  • A large European financial Group (Bank and Insurance) adopted SkillGym Attitude for the screening of candidates on several open positions. The tool was primarily used during the career days organized by the Group. In these occasions, the result of the simulation has been compared with the results of some live role plays provided to the same users, with a 75% correspondence.
  • A French government department integrated SkillGym Attitude in an app aimed to create connections between the recruiters and young people looking for a new job. The tool has proven to be the killer application to accelerate the matching.
  • Several pilot projects are currently being rolled out in many multinational corporations, with the aim of comparing the effectiveness of SkillGym Attitude with the traditional behavior assessment tools they are currently being used and progressively include this new angle of observation as one of the ways they select candidates efficiently.


The decontextualization of the story is the key element that makes SkillGym Attitude such a versatile tool, making it useful to different size companies from myriad sectors. The setting of the digital role play is not related to any specific industry sector.
On the other hand, the behaviors and the competences measured by SkillGym Attitude are fundamental qualities in any job that requires dealing with other people.


A plenty of success stories witnesses how SkillGym Attitude can be integrated in the recruiting processes of the companies that operate in different industries all around the world.

It provides the hiring company with an accurate list of metrics about the candidate’s approach and his way to interact with the people facing critical situations.
It engages the users in an immersive simulation and it returns them a personalized and immediate feedback.
It allows the company to get in touch with all the applicants through an innovative digital tool, with positive benefits in terms of employer branding and reputation.


If you found this article interesting, we would be delighted to show you how SkillGym Attitude works in a 1-hour discovery call.

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