Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

Gaming the Interview Process

There’s no getting around it – Millennials are taking over the world.

Okay, maybe not the world, but their presence is definitely being felt in the workforce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 80 million young adults born between 1976 and 2001 make up Gen Y, and as of this year will make up 36 percent of the U.S. workforce. According to an article by the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School entitled “Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace”, this number is expected to grow to 46 percent by 2020. Taking into consideration the relatively low number of Gen Xers in the workforce (16 percent), as well as Baby Boomers approaching retirement age, employers will be facing leadership gaps – and inevitably looking to fill them with Millennials.

With this in mind, employers are finding creative ways of targeting Millennials in the first step to employment – the interview. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, a favorite Gen Y pastime consists of playing games on the internet or a mobile device. In fact, 43 percent of Millennials don’t even watch an hour of TV a day because they prefer playing social games. So what better way to recruit Millennials than to disguise the interview process as a game? Let’s take a look at a few trail-blazing companies who are implementing games into their interview process:

Knack – Wasabi Waiter:

Designed by game developer Knack, Wasabi Waiter measures job applicants’ creativity, multi-tasking abilities and how easily they’re distracted. The game casts the applicant as a waiter at a sushi restaurant who must decide what dishes to recommend. Knack was recently profiled in The New York Times and has worked with such companies as Shell and a variety of medical employers.

Marriott International – My Marriott Hotel:

Corporate hotel giant Marriott International recently rolled out their solution to hiring more Millennials. In My Marriott Hotel, players manage a virtual hotel restaurant kitchen, purchase supplies on a budget and manage employees. According to, developing the game has helped Marriott generate interest in the hospitality industry, increase brand awareness and identify talent throughout the world. Francesca Martinez, Marriott’s VP of Human Resources, says that players from 120 different countries are logged on at any given time, running their own virtual kitchens. Martinez also confirmed that the game has successfully increased traffic to the company’s web page, with approximately one-third of all users following the link to their career site.

READ MORE: Gamification and Why Recruiters Need It

Mitre Corp. – Job of Honor:

After determining that 90 percent of their target audience were video game users, Mitre Corp. an engineering and technology services corporation, developed Job of Honor in order to tap into a younger talent pool. The game allows players to take a self-guided virtual tour of Mitre’s offices and work as a virtual Project Manager, completing tasks typical of the role. According to, in addition to aiding in recruitment, the game has increased the company’s reputation among young applicants. Within the first three months of the game’s release, the Mitre site received more than 5,200 hits and accumulated over 600 registered players in 48 U.S. states and 25 countries worldwide. – Jenga:

While not an online game, has found a unique way to implement the block-stacking game Jenga into its hiring process. The costume retailer undergoes a hiring surge every Halloween in which they recruit around 1,000 part-time employees. In the interview, applicants are asked to play a game of Jenga with managers and coworkers. In the game in which blocks are removed from the bottom of a tower and added to the top until it collapses, each block has an interview question on it that the prospective employee must answer. This allows the managers to determine which players would make the best employees and fit best into the company culture.

While implementing interview games may have some obvious advantages, like tapping into a young candidate pool, increasing brand awareness and demonstrating a fun, relaxed corporate culture to prospective employees, they may also have a downside. Older candidates will be at an immediate disadvantage, as will candidates who are not avid video gamers, or those who lack hand-eye coordination. But then again, these may be the demographics some employers are looking to weed out while still remaining HR-compliant. Every year, trends come and go. Recruiters, do you foresee this one catching on?

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.