4 ways gamification is shaking up the interview process

08 December 2015 -


Looking for new and better ways to assess their candidates, these companies have introduced an element of gaming to excite, intrigue and assess their potential future employees

Jermaine Haughton

Deloitte has introduced a smartphone gaming app to help assess its job applicants for its apprenticeship scheme, making it one of the biggest firms to bring recruitment gamification techniques to the UK.

Designed to identify people with skills in innovation, creativity and problem solving, Deloitte will instruct applicants to its BrightStart Business Apprenticeship programme to play Firefire Freedom, a game made by recruitment-focused software developer Arctic Shores.

Requiring no previous gaming experience, users spend between 20-30 minutes working through a series of challenges that assess various personality traits. The results of the session are sent back to recruiters and are intended to provide an objective measurement of a candidate’s natural preferences.

Following the auditor’s decision to conduct school and university-blind interviews and use contextualised academic data throughout its entry-level recruitment processes, this latest trial also intends to help find high potential recruits who may not necessarily stand out through a traditional recruitment routine.

If the trial works smoothly and provides access to a more diverse pool of talent, then Deloitte says it will extend the programme to include the recruitment of all 1,500 graduates and school leavers the firm hires each year.

In a hiring scenario, the use of gamification is particularly advantageous to recruiters as tasks can provide data-based evidence on how quickly candidates learn, their processes, behaviours, and even how they approach risks. By making the interview procedure more fun and interactive, gamification can also work to focus and engage candidates on a set task, as well as help employers build interest and excitement from qualified candidates to their job openings and companies.

However, research by people management business Penna shows that the concept is relatively new to many businesses operating in the UK. The report reveals that 89% of employees don’t know what gamification is and 70% of HR directors said gamification hadn’t been used in their workplace at all.

Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, says attracting applicants who have different backgrounds and experiences is crucial for bringing new ideas and greater innovation to the company.

She said: “Improving the UK’s record on social mobility is a strategic priority, for the country as a whole but also for our business. We need people to join Deloitte from a variety of backgrounds, bringing a range of perspectives and experience into the firm. There is compelling evidence that alternative methods during the recruitment process support this objective, helping to identify exceptional talent by providing opportunities for the millennial generation to shine.”

As with any interview activity, the data derived from games only provide an insight into the suitability of a candidate to a job role and its responsibilities, and therefore should be used in conjunction with 1-to-1 interviews whereby recruiters can get a feel for the person’s interpersonal and communication skills.

Kevin Werbach, professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “Gamification can help to transform a business. But fundamentally, gamification involves understanding psychology, understanding design principles and understanding how we can leverage data. It’s not that gamification is some new thing that’s going to cause us to do business in a totally different way. The reality is gamification taps into what makes us human.

“We’re engaged by games. We respond to some of these game elements not because it’s some cool new idea that someone came up with, but because it relates to our basic human drives — our motivation for mastery, our desire to be connected to something broader than ourselves, our response to a desire for achievement and so forth.”

Here are three other innovative ways large companies have used gamification to recruit top talent effectively.

Marriott: Intended to promote the careers on offer within the hospitality sector, Marriott released the online game My Marriott Hotel. With its Sims-like gameplay, the hotel-themed virtual game required job candidates to demonstrate their skills in a fun, online environment, and successfully drove traffic to the firm’s Facebook career page.

Volkswagen: In its search for talented new mechanics, the automaker sent “undercover” employees to drop off damaged cars at repair shops across Germany. On the undercarriage of each car was a job ad. Besides finding new talent and earning plaudits for its innovative campaign, VW also benefited from being able to interact with each mechanic when they dropped off the car; enabling recruiters to assess in a work environment how they would fit into Volkswagen’s culture.

PwC: In a virtual gamed titled Multipoly, job candidates for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Hungarian offices were given the opportunity to try out different roles at the company, including a manager or consultant, and were presented with business problems similar to those they would encounter on the job.

The auditor found that candidates who were hired after playing Multipoly made the transition to the company employee more easily. Furthermore, the job candidate pool grew by 190% and there was a 78% increase in the number of users reporting an interest in learning more about working at PwC.

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