For years, the traditional hiring process has relied on the same basic model: collect resumes, request interviews, administer assessments, request work samples, check references. Out of all these staples of the hiring process, research continuously reaffirms that pre-employment assessments, and particularly cognitive aptitude tests, are the most predictive of job success.
This is because pre-employment tests offer advantages that the other hiring factors lack. Reference checks are notorious for selection bias, because what applicant would list a bad reference? Similarly, resumes can present a false front, both positively and negatively. Resumes can be stacked with half-truths or they can be too limited, failing to tell the whole story about a candidate’s potential. Resumes also do a disservice to new college graduates or people who are switching fields, as they can’t fully demonstrate a candidate’s potential.
But while pre-employment tests offer an objective solution to a common hiring problem, the hiring landscape is shifting. The internet age has transformed the way that people apply for jobs. Attention spans are shorter and applicants can be choosier – most hiring executives agree that it’s a candidate’s hiring market, making candidate experience a priority for any employer that wishes to attract the top candidates.
Adding to the changing landscape, mobile is becoming more and more integral to the hiring process. One study found that 77% of job seekers use mobile job search apps, and 45% of job seekers said they use a mobile device to search for jobs at least once a day.
Adapting to the modern hiring process requires innovative strategies for attracting and engaging the modern job seeker. And one answer may be more fun than you think: gamification.
Bringing gamification to the hiring process
Gamification is the idea of turning a process into competitive engagement to make a task feel more like a game. It has found its way into many different industries and activities in recent years, with games started to shift the way nearly every industry creates and consumes data. In health and wellness, fitness apps award trophies and send bragging rights to your friends. In business, gamification is used to motivate employees and increase engagement. In marketing, gamification comes in many forms, such as branded apps that offer promotional rewards based on how much you spend.
The hiring and recruiting industry is no exception – it’s ripe for gamification as a quick and fun way to identify talent. In fact, the model already exists in the form of “brain game” apps. Popular services like Lumosity — which currently has 70 million members – have demonstrated the popularity of brain games as an app category. For recruitment, games that test specific traits that are in demand from employers—such as critical thinking, attention to detail, problem-solving, verbal and math skills–can be used to quickly take measure of a job seeker. Their scores can serve as talent signals to indicate their potential as an employee, regardless of what they may or may not be able to demonstrate on a resume. Even if the evaluation of someone’s ability based on these games may not be quite as reliable of a signal as you might get from traditional aptitude tests, they hold great promise as a preliminary means of finding, engaging and evaluating prospective talent. Gamification in this form could benefit the hiring industry in three key areas:
- A level playing field: A strong candidate can come in many proverbial shapes and sizes. Young, old, experienced, or new to the industry – a candidate with any of these backgrounds could be a potential star employee who can make a significant impact on your company. Resumes, however, can’t always capture what a candidate has to offer, especially for applicants who are new to the workforce and don’t have much experience. A gamified app that evaluates abilities, not depth of resume, creates a level playing field for everyone, allowing true skill to shine through rather than relying on a candidate’s background, connections, or educational pedigree, which can be so heavily influenced by socioeconomic factors.
- Their best selves: Some people don’t interview well. Others may not necessarily know what the ins and outs of a tip-top resume may look like. But playing a game? Anyone can do that, and in fact, research shows that people perform better when they’re having fun. With a gamified hiring app, not only can candidates relax and engage with the games in a familiar environment, they can actually have fun doing it!
- A broader reach: Even in the age of sophisticated hiring software, too many companies are relying on candidates finding them. There’s no easy way to reach a mass audience, or to go after candidates in nontraditional places. But with gamification, anyone can download the app and play. If the games are fun and rewarding, they can attract a wide range of candidates who may not have found out about a particular job opportunity on their own. In this way, gamification can serve as a talent surfacing engine, uncovering talent in unexpected places and helping both candidates and companies find each other in creative ways.
A modern take on an age-old need
Sifting through candidates and identifying potential will always be a part of the hiring process. But technology is changing the way job seekers are looking for jobs as well as the way employers are finding potential employees. Gamification can help to fill the gap by enabling both employers and job seekers to engage with each other in unique ways, getting us one step closer to a world where talent and opportunity are more perfectly aligned.
Josh Millet is the CEO & Founder of Criteria Corp., a pre-employment testing company founded in 2006 that creates software for employers to gather objective data on job candidates with aptitude, personality, and skills tests. He is also the Founder of JobFlare, a mobile app that helps job seekers get discovered based on their abilities rather than their resume.