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Why gamifying recruitment will change HR in 2020

Ilinca Draganescu


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Gamification is all the rage in certain circles. And with good cause, it’s a fantastic way to entice customers, engage audiences, and even attract great talent.

Wait, what?


That’s right, even recruitment is getting in on the gaming action. Everybody from the biggest in technology like Google to departments within the UK government is using gamification strategies to increase quality-of-hire numbers and encourage applicants who are great cultural fits to come on board. Gamified online platforms can spice up skill assessments, be used in academy-style training sessions, and provide some punch for just about any aspect of the recruitment cycle.

Interviews are stressful enough, try gamifying your assessments to ease candidates minds


Now on its second pass (gamified elements have been appearing since the early aughts in some circles), the technology has matured to the point where it’s ready to provide the backbone for bigger and better strategies. Like many cutting-edge techniques, gamifying aspects of your recruitment campaigns is been seen as a fad by some in the industry. But as we approach 2020 the technology, and importantly the psychological understanding of why and how it works, are helping prove that this set of tactics is here to stay and is ready to have an unprecedented impact on the recruitment sector.

Recruitment Gamification Strategies Vary Widely


There are myriad examples already being used to great success. Google has been conducting “code jams” for well over a decade now. These events are structured like a competition, which they are, with different puzzles being set before contestants (who also happen to be candidates for available jobs) and even cash prizes awarded in certain categories.


Sure the money is a big draw for these jams, but more importantly, these events serve to attract exactly the sort of talent Google is looking for. In that vein, many of the coders who attend these events, even those who don’t win the big prize, do leave with job offers.


Companies are also developing their own, proprietary escape room-style assessments, or even RPGs (role-playing games) to test everything from coding skills, to cooperation and people skills. And these games can easily be repurposed and personalized for different roles, on different teams, or even packaged and sold as a stand-alone gamified platform to other similar companies across industries.

Gamified Assets can Test for Specific Aspects of a Job


In the guise of a well-designed game, the candidate may not even be able to identify the skill being tested. Heck, they may not even realize it’s an assessment at all. AI is increasingly being used to power the assessment solutions coming to market, so the analysis of a candidate’s results is done behind the scenes. This analysis can turn out a score that is as simple, or as complex, as the recruiter wants it to be.


The mix of traits that can be assessed at the same time can often lead an employer to find that a candidate is actually a much better fit for a completely different role, saving them the hassle of posting that opening at all. It’s a win-win, that candidate becomes an applicant for a new opening, and someone else continues on for the initial role being tested for.


By allowing for the addition of not only quantifiable results but also qualifiable ones in these scores, companies are getting a better, more complete picture of the people applying for their openings than ever before. These qualifiable results are helping determine everything from a person’s personality type to how good a cultural fit they will be on their potential new team.


On top of all that, gamified testing platforms can show recruiters:

  • How likely a candidate is to stick with a difficult problem
  • How well they work with others
  • If they’re a take-charge, team leader in the making
  • Or if they’re better suited to being one of many, working well as a member of the team

Gamified Assessments can Eliminate Unconscious Biases


A common complaint about assessments and interviews is that they tend to favor the outspoken, extraverted candidate. There are many factors that feed this view, many of which stem from the unconscious bias of the interviewer that the person who speaks up, gives their opinion, and shares in meetings is by definition better at their job. 


This leads to introverts being even more anxious in assessments and interview situations, which in turn leads to a skewed representation of their actual skills and abilities. Simply because someone freezes when the spotlight is on them in a large group of strangers doesn’t reflect on their ability to do a great job for your company.


By gamifying your assessments and even your initial interview rounds, you can gain deeper insight into everyone who plays. Taking the spotlight off those who don’t do well in those situations, and at the same time, providing a space where everyone can shine with equal intensity.

Digital Natives are Entering the Workforce in Increasing Numbers


So-called Generation-Z is not only the first cohort to be considered digital natives, they are also the largest group to enter the workforce. Ever.


Digital natives are those who have never known a world without the internet and an ever-present mobile device. In fact, their lives revolve around these devices to such an extent that they are influencing entire market sectors to change how they do business just so they can gain the attention of this generation.


Since this cohort is just now reaching maturity and entering the job market for the first time, they’re targeting entry-level jobs. These are notoriously difficult to hire for since appropriate candidates have no work history to rely on.


Games can tell a recruiter everything they need to know about these folks, without the need for a resume at all. Gamified platforms are also an exceptional way to convey information about your company since that lack of work experience also generally means a lack of knowledge about potential employers.


The use of games and gamified assessments is not new. What is new is the degree to which they can be leveraged in today’s employment market to assist in determining a candidate’s soft skills, hard skills, and even to conduct personality assessments. All in a setting that puts the candidate at ease, allowing them to truly be themselves, giving the recruiter a glimpse of who they really are and how they’ll fit in as the newest potential member of the team.

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