CEO - Bunch of Keys with Text on Golden Keychain.What if you could use a simulation to test a potential CEO’s capacity to do the job?

It is an idea that is catching on, according to an April 22 article published in the Harvard Business Review. In the piece, Korn Ferry Vice Chairman Dennis Carey and McKinsey & Company partner Matt Smith write that they are being asked more often to judge how well a potential CEO might perform the job based on a simulation that mimics potential, realistic challenge.

They said this happened with Ford CEO Alan Mulally, and that his test results were “among some of the best we’ve ever seen,” and they pointed to successes that followed at Ford, and before that when he ran Boeing.

Korn Ferry also used simulations at Humana, before recommending Bruce Broussard as CEO, according to the article. The piece goes on to suggest that simulations are “a big step forward in assessing candidates beyond interviews and resumes, and though important, referencing also often fails to be predictive.”

A company can’t just present a simulation and be done with it, however, the piece recommends a clear sense of strategy and possible leadership challenges so a simulation can do its job as intended.

Beyond simulations, the piece also points to competitions and analytics as increasingly driving executive or CEO hires.

HBR subscribers can click here to read the full article, “How Companies Are Using Simulations, Competitions and Analytics to Hire.”