How Can Gamification Be Used For More Effective Recruiting?

Computer screen searching candidates and two professionals shaking hands

Gamification is nothing new. All the way back in 1908, the Boy Scouts began gamifying skills like first aid and carpentry by rewarding scouts with merit badges. In the 1960s, multi-colored stamp books swept the nation as retail chains gamified grocery shopping.

Though the concept has been around for centuries (or longer), the gamification of business operations is picking up steam in an exciting way, and nowhere are the implications more promising than in the field of recruiting.

What is Gamification?

In a business context, gamification describes the application of game mechanics, like competition and achievement, to a business process, such as marketing or hiring.

The term ‘gamification’, as we understand it, gained widespread adoption in 2009 with the launch of Foursquare, which applied elements of gaming to local search behavior (remember becoming the “mayor” of your favorite local diner?). Since then, gamification has been applied in a practical context to everything from employee training to politics.

The market for gamification is massive and growing quickly. According to market research platform ReportLinker, the global gamification market was valued at $6.8 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $40 billion by 2024. The organization attributes its rapid growth to a growing demand for customer experience enrichment and improved engagement of employees.

A common misconception is that the purpose of gamification is to make an interaction “more fun,” but this only scratches the surface. While gamification certainly can make an otherwise boring process more enjoyable, at its core it’s meant to increase engagement by involving the user in a more meaningful way. Engagement is the driving factor behind everything from customer loyalty to employee retention, which means gamification can be a highly worthwhile business strategy.

What Are The Applications Of Gamification In Recruiting?

It can be used to test how a candidate will react in real-time

Interviews are perhaps the richest source of information a hiring manager has when assessing a candidate, but they have one fatal flaw: the majority of what the candidate says in an interview has been rehearsed ahead of time. While that is often just the nature of interviews, it also completely neglects to assess how a candidate acts and reacts in the moment, which is a major determining factor of job success. Gamification can be used to instantly gauge how candidates would react in situations that they’d likely face in their new role.

Rolls Royce took advantage of this capability by gamifying a situational judgment test. Via a simulated inbox, the company assessed how its interns and apprentices would manage the incoming message load of a fictitious manager. The result was a robust picture of the individual’s social, organizational and decision-making skills.

Gamification can screen for specific skills

Any good hiring manager or recruiter knows that candidates aren’t the best assessors of their own skills. Underqualified candidates may overestimate their aptitude in certain areas, while candidates who are completely qualified may struggle to communicate their skills in a 30-second answer to an interview question. Gamification addresses both of these problems by giving candidates an opportunity to actively demonstrate their skills.

UK business services provider KPMG used gamification to attract and screen new college graduates for an internship. Candidates were tasked with racing a virtual hot air balloon around the world, stopping along the way to “refuel” by completing relevant challenges. The candidate who was able to successfully complete the journey in the shortest amount of time won the internship.

Companies seeking to hire can use similar gamification channels to test a candidate’s skills, from hard skills like programming or data entry, to soft skills like communication.

Gamification can help reduce hiring bias—even bias that exists when using AI

One of the biggest selling points of artificial intelligence in staffing and recruiting is its ability to remove human bias—intentional or unintentional—that can creep into the hiring process. But, believe it or not, AI can develop biases of its own. In one fascinating example, Amazon documented how its AI recruiting tool had developed a bias against female applicants, assigning lower scores to candidates whose resume used the word ‘women’s,’ as in ‘women’s college’ or ‘women’s chess club.’

Recruitment games have an exciting amount of potential to take some of the onus for removing bias off of humans and artificial intelligence. Hacker Rank demonstrated this with its platform for taking a neutral assessment of a candidate’s coding skills.

As Hacker Rank CEO Vivek Ravisankar explained, recruiting in the coding world is particularly susceptible to machine learning bias because many of the best candidates didn’t go to college and haven’t worked for big-name companies—something AI tools often “learn” to look for. So, Ravisankar and his team built a gamification platform through which companies can evaluate applicants’ coding skills with assessments, challenges, hackathons and more. This results in a truly blind assessment of a candidate’s coding capabilities, apart from what’s on their resume or what they look like.

Gamification can improve the candidate experience

If you’ve read a few of our articles, you’ve probably heard us preach on the importance of a strong candidate experience in hiring. A positive candidate experience correlates with better quality talent, more seamless onboarding and a strong employer brand, all of which are good for business.

Gamification can enhance the candidate experience in several important ways. It creates that all-important engagement between a candidate and a company that’s lacking in your standard website ‘careers’ page experience. It can also help a candidate learn more about the company and the role during the application process, which is valuable in helping them make an informed decision about joining your organization.

Accounting and consulting firm PwC introduced gamification in an effort to engage job applicants more fully (the average candidate was spending 10 minutes or less on the company’s website). They came up with a game called Multipoly that placed prospective candidates on teams and presented them with scenarios similar to those they’d face on the job.

After introducing the game, candidates spent as much as 90 minutes on the platform. The firm reported that its candidate pool grew by 190% and users reporting interest in learning more about working at PwC increased by 78%.

Candidates, for their part, seem to enjoy—or at least not be deterred by—gamification in the recruiting process. Assessment solution provider AON cites one applicant feedback study that asked candidates to compare a new gamified assessment with a previous, non-gamified version. 91% reported that it gave the same or better impression of the company, while 94% said it was the same or better at engaging them.

The key to creating a positive candidate experience (and not one that’s viewed as overly juvenile) with gamification is to know your market and to tap into your company culture. If you’re hoping to reach upper-level financial professionals who will succeed in a buttoned-up corporate culture, a quiz might be a better gamification option than, say, the hot air balloon ride simulation we mentioned earlier. Conversely, if you’re looking for creatives who will thrive in a quirky, progressive environment, a Farmville-style assessment game might be the differentiating factor you need to put your company on their shortlist.

Set Goals for Gamification in Recruiting

While gamification in recruiting has many merits, the concept isn’t without its potential pitfalls. In order to employ recruitment games that are actually effective and not just a novelty, begin by setting goals.

What is it you’re hoping to achieve by adding gamification to your recruiting strategy? Is it more eyes on your careers page (check out the MyMarriottHotel case study for a great success story in this area)? A wider pool of applicants? To weed out unqualified candidates? Once you’ve established your goals, it will be much easier to identify what kind of gamification suits your purpose.

As with any new recruitment tool, tracking your progress consistently and analyzing the results on a regular basis is paramount. Set key performance indicators that you’ll use to assess the effectiveness of your recruitment games. Some of these might include:

  • Your overall number of applicants
  • Time spent on your website, repeat visits to career page
  • Percentage of candidates that pass the screening phase
  • Percentage of candidates offered an interview
  • Offer rate, offer acceptance rate

Additionally, compare these metrics to those of your other recruiting channels to get an idea for how gamification fits into your overall hiring picture and how it stacks up against other means of attracting, qualifying, and hiring candidates.

Fine-Tune Your Recruiting Process With 4 Corner Resources

From gamification ideas to cutting-edge recruiting technology, 4 Corner Resources has the strategies you need to develop the most effective hiring funnel in your field. By combining our proprietary sourcing tools with our deep network of talent from coast to coast, we’ll give you access to the best candidates your industry has to offer.

We attract, screen, and place candidates for a wide range of positions, from technology to customer service and beyond. Our staffing solutions include direct hire recruiting, contract and temporary staffing, as well as payrolling services to streamline your onboarding process. To speak with one of our staffing professionals and begin your search today, contact us now.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.