The gamification of assessment
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growth in the number of organisations seeking out more applicant-engaging and innovative ways of helping to decide which candidates to hire. Some of these new ways include the use of ‘games’ within the assessment process or the gamification of the assessments themselves. They can, and do, include everything from virtual reality assessments, games that assess emotional intelligence through reading facial expressions, and those that apply some of the features of games to the regular psychometric test.
At the SIOP Conference in Chicago, US in March, an expert panel, including Aon Assessment Solutions consultant Nicholas Martin, presented some unique considerations around the growth of game-based assessments. One of these focused on the candidate experience and whether ‘fun’ was always better.
It’s clear that there are three key drivers for the adoption of gamification in selection assessment:
- the emphasis on improving the candidate experience;
- the desire to manage the process more efficiently and
- the push to utilise bigger and better data in organisations. (Rampell, 2014):
For many, the gamification of assessments has many upsides, as the introduction of such approaches:
- supports and enhances the employer brand;
- attracts a diverse pool of applicants;
- provides more scoring options and insightful data;
- contains interactive and dynamic content thereby shortening the time taken to complete; and
- are more immersive, engaging and fun.
This aspect of ‘fun’ is not often discussed; it is assumed that all candidates will perceive the assessment as ‘fun’ – and that ‘fun’ equates with a ‘great assessment experience’.
But probably not all candidates for jobs at all levels and within all functions across an organisation will find an assessment which can look and feel like an Angry Birds game, ‘fun’.
So, is there such a thing as ‘too much fun’ when it comes to hiring assessments- and is there a threshold for an ‘ideal’ amount (or type) of gamification?
Applicant reactions to assessments have generally been demonstrated to be important for organisational attractiveness, perceptions of fairness, and other important outcomes (Smither, Reilly, Millsap, Pearlman & Stoffey, 1993). With regard to applicants’ reactions to the gamification elements, cut-e’s own research looked at 540 international, millennial job applicants.
The study showed that the gamification elements that candidates are positive about are:
- completing interactive challenges that unlock different levels;
- receiving immediate feedback;
- feeling that they’re being taken seriously by the organisation.
However, anything that identifies too strongly as a game is seen as inappropriate and unprofessional. Given the importance of making selection decisions which have significant impact on candidates’ lives, you want to provide for an engaging selection process, yet one that aligns with the seriousness of the situation.
So, the take home message is that certain aspects of gamification are beneficial to both your candidates and organisation. However, if you use the wrong kind of gamification in your assessments, good candidates may drop out of your selection process and you could diminish the public perception of your organisation.
Rampell, C, (Jan 22, 2014). Your Next Job Application Could Involve a Video Game. New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from
Smither, J. W., Reilly, R. R., Millsap, R. E., Pearlman, K., & Stoffey, R. W. (1993). Applicant reactions to selection procedures. Personnel Psychology, 46(1), 49–76.
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