Applying for a job isn’t like it used to be. Back in the day, people simply sent CVs and attended generic interviews but this old-fashioned method of sourcing talent is on its way out. “Everything is completely different from what people used to do 20 years ago,” says Andreas Lohff, CEO of cut-e, the assessment solution company which is part of AON. ìNo big tables and lots of words anymore.î And at the centre of this change you’ll find the word gamification.
But what does that mean exactly? “It’s basically everything that takes a task to a more abstract level and makes it more engaging,” says Jayson Darby, head of psychology at Thomas International, the psychometric assessment company. For those new to the game, gamifying a process can happen in two ways. Firstly, gamified assessments are ones that are entirely turned into games. Doing one of these can sometimes feel like playing a video game. The second category is usually referred to as game-based assessments. They donít turn the whole process into a game but only incorporate a few game-like elements. Both types have gained popularity over the past few years as recruiters look to evolve the evaluation of candidates job suitability. Moreover, gamification makes the whole process more enjoyable for candidates, reducing the risk that they’ll drop out midway through your recruitment process. “You want to attract these people and make the selection shorter, more interesting and more attractive,” says Lohff.
Given how sourcing candidates can be a time-consuming and dry process for both recruiters and applicants alike, spicing things up with gamification has some clear advantages. ìWhile combining [better experience] with the science behind it you can make it nicer for people and at the same time get better results, says Boris Altemeyer, chief scientific officer at Cognisess, the predictive analytics platform. In fact, he argues that high-quality candidates can be persuaded to join your startup if your recruitment process sets you apart from the other businesses trying to woo them. “It actually works very well for the people who normally classify themselves as I’m not one of the people that test very well because of the stress,” Altemeyer explains. If candidates are at ease, you can have a better chance at gauging their potential.
Gamification also makes it easier to provide jobseekers with an equal opportunity to compete for a job. In this respect, Altemeyer shares some insights from the playground, revealing that Cognisess partners with companies with about 12,000 applicants per year and for them it’s very important that people have a real opportunity. “Everyone has a chance to shine because they donít know if any of these 12,000 could be their next superstar, he says. Another gamification virtue he brings to the foreground is it not only provides instant feedback but also a large-scale impact on sourcing talent. We can very easily match people based on assessments to different skill gaps,” he adds.
The concept of fairness in selection already has a central role in recruitment. “Anyone who is using any type of technology to make important people-related decisions must make sure technology doesn’t disadvantage people,” Darby comments. These specifics should be thoroughly considered when relying on gamified or game-based elements. “If you test it and find out it’s harder for women to perform better or if you have an assessment where people from certain backgrounds perform worse, then again, that’s not great,” he reasons.
When it comes to the optimal usage of gamification in recruitment, comprehensive software and appropriate guidance of applicants can really save the day. “If the simple design and communication are there, they pave the way,” explains Darby. On the other hand, if these crucial elements are missing, people might simply tune out of the application process. In other words, recruiters can boost applicants performance by thoroughly clarifying the procedure to them. “Even if people are less familiar with [gamification as a recruitment technique], they’ll be more confident if thereís more communication,” he claims.
While there are advantages to gamification, recruiters shouldnít jump in without considering it carefully. For instance, turning the recruitment process into a game could become too enjoyable. “[Gamification could lead] to something that almost looks like Candy Crush,” Lohff says. He argues that assessments should ultimately still be about assessing talent, not just entertaining candidates. I always feel that if you go this route itís almost like you’re not taking your candidates seriously anymore, he reasons.
Another key consideration is gamification may not be right for all candidates. So good advice for recruiters is to take note of an applicants technological exposure and experience before deciding on a fully-digital recruitment method. Curiously, it’s not just the age difference but the cultural exposure that challenges technological use in multi-generational companies. There are individuals in their 70s or older and the people in their 50s or 60s and another generation in their late 30s or 40s and then you’ve got the millennials, then the youngest generation.î Darby points out.
So what sets apart these employees from the job isn’t just a question of age but a different access to education, very different societal situation and what they expect from the job, he concludes.
So how will gamification recruitment change in the future? ìItís pretty much here to stay because it allows us to explore potentials with its assessment and game mechanics, Altemeyer explains. One of the most striking facts about this innovation is it allows applicants to play to their strengths and objectively points at their fortes. ìPeople might be able to see very easily and say ëActually I would be very good at doing this or that and I never knew it,” he shares.
The power of games might have been underestimated before but as it teamed up with the quality of psychometrics, this method can appeal to most out-of-the-box thinkers. So, as that old Matthew Broderick movie put it: want to play a game?