Gamification in Recruitment


April 25, 2022


180 Engineering

The gamification trend in recruitment (popularly referred to as “recruitainment”) has had its ups and downs since being introduced about a decade ago. While some pundits felt that the trend was “over” around 2015, major corporations including Google, Umbel, Marriott International, and Dominos Pizza continue to successfully use gamification as a way to find and nurture talent.

Tapping into the love people have for puzzles and games, gamification can make the hiring process fun for candidates and attract diverse applicants who might have previously had little interest in your company or industry. It can also be a terrific way to showcase your company culture and promote your brand as modern and innovative.

Most importantly, gamification can be an incredibly cost-effective way to speed up the interview process and select strong candidates who are a good fit for their roles. In a 2021 blog piece, Zina Bacha reports that a tech startup that replaced traditional interviews with a coding challenge “produced a 40% shorter interview cycle, as well as a 62% higher offer ratio.”

In today’s job market, attracting top talent and speeding up the hiring process are critical. During this era of record-level job turn-over, employers need to quickly make hiring decisions and compelling job offers before another company catches the attention of its candidates. While gamification holds a lot of promise for employers of any scope, it does need to be designed and used effectively in order to be successful.

What Is Gamification In Recruitment?

As Caitlin White explains in a LinkedIn blog post, “gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and design in non-game contexts.” The game can be relatively “simple,” like Google’s Code Jam. This coding challenge tests the skills of competitors who solve algorithmic puzzles for a chance to win monetary prizes – or, potentially, a job with the tech giant.

But gamification in recruitment can also be extremely sophisticated, tapping into behavioural science, neuroscience, and gaming in order to get a deeper understanding of how well a candidate might fit not just the job requirements but the company culture as well.

Multipoly, a virtual reality game based on Facebook, was developed by the Hungarian division of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The game invited students and recent graduates to work through a 12-day virtual simulation of being a PwC employee. Players earned points by meeting quarterly goals and completing tasks such as attending training sessions, joining a community, negotiating with clients, and resolving issues. As explained in a blog post by An Coppens, the game required players to:

participate in regular work scenarios, [and] complete psychometric tests and scenarios that [were] very similar to those experienced in an assessment centre. The virtual environment on the outside looks like the building of PwC in reality and players [could] move throughout the building to explore further tasks, meet with their mentor and learn. The players [could] test out different roles and find out about various department[s].

Beyond increasing the number of job applicants, the game introduced the company and its careers to a generation of social-media savvy job seekers. Stats revealed that, of the game players, 78 percent wanted to work for PwC after completing the game and 92% indicated that they had a more positive view of the company.

Benefits of Gamification In Recruitment

Whether recruitment gamification is a simple puzzle or a complex virtual reality game, it holds many benefits for employers.

First, gamification can replace the traditional application process. Using gamification at this stage of the hiring process helps to attract and engage candidates who might otherwise feel that they are not a good fit for your company or sector, widening your candidate pool.

Second, gamification makes it easy for you to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role.
Whether they meet the stated qualifications or not, the data collected by your gamification tool can help you easily pinpoint the best candidates.

Beyond assessing the technical skills, like coding, that might be required by a position, sophisticated games like Multipoly can delve deeply into a candidate’s suitability. For example, these types of virtual reality games can give assessors a chance to observe a candidate’s real-time decision-making, time-management, and conflict-resolution skills.

Because it’s fun, the assessment provided by gamification is more stress-free for candidates than traditional skill assessment tests. This can level the playing field for candidates. Candidates who might otherwise perform poorly in traditional skill assessment tests and interviews because of nervousness or performance anxiety have a chance to shine when gamification is employed.

Additionally, the more sophisticated virtual reality games can assist candidates during the hiring process as well. With a better understanding of the expectations for the role and the company’s culture, candidates will have a better idea if the position holds promise for them. And, ultimately, that improves retention rates.

There is no doubt that gamification holds a lot of value in recruitment – for both employers and candidates.

How To Design Gamification For Recruitment

Gamification works best when it’s thoughtfully designed, engaging, and has clear, measurable objectives. It’s recommended that the people in the target audience participate in the design.

That said, effective gamification is complex. It can be difficult to develop gamification tools in-house. As Nikoletta Bika points out in a blog piece, “Games need to have been developed with the help of extensive research (and a lot of behavioral science), so it’s best to look for companies that specialize in gamification in recruiting.”

Compared to the cost of a bad hire, the cost of gamification can be quite reasonable, depending on various factors, like plug-ins, widgets, the amount of customization, the type and amount of data collected, and the number of users. On a monthly basis, vendors may charge as little as $25 per user or as much as thousands of dollars per user.

Before you shop around for a vendor to work with, take the time to consider exactly what you want to accomplish with gamification in your recruitment process.

Define Your Objectives

Think about what you want to achieve by introducing gamification into your recruitment processes. Is your goal to evaluate technical skills, to test for soft skills, to increase the number of applicants, or simply to better promote your brand? Your objective will define your gamification strategy.

Personalize The Experience

Generic games might be fun to play but they will lack relevance. Any game that you introduce into your recruitment processes should be customized to reflect your needs and your brand, and should give players a better understanding of your company.

Make It Engaging and Fun

Engagement is critical during the recruitment process, especially in today’s job market where recruiters and employers are hustling to attract candidates. Keeping the gamification fun, interactive, and entertaining will engage candidates and encourage them to further check out your online presence.

Measure The Results

The data collected by gamification can help you realize if you’ve achieved your objectives. As well, those results can be provided to candidates (sometimes instantly, as part of the game) to give them valuable feedback about their performance during the hiring process.

Gamification in recruitment can be quite sophisticated and can help you achieve a number of different objectives. There is, of course, a cost involved, but that cost is likely significantly lower than the cost of bad hires. If you aren’t already using gamification in recruitment, it’s a terrific time to start. In this red-hot job market, it’ll give you an edge in attracting candidates, speed up your hiring process, and improve your retention rates. It’s definitely a win-win scenario.