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Bringing gamification to recruitment

Blog Post

Written by John Berry on 23rd August 2017. Revised 16th November 2020.

4 min read

Psychometric TestingLarge organisations use online gaming as part of their selection process. If you play the game well, you get to make a job application. It’s a way of testing the applicant whilst promoting the organisation and informing the applicant about the job. And it’s effective where there are large numbers of applicants and a significant number of vacancies. In that case, the cost of building the game is balanced by the cost of alternatives – and the benefits outweigh the costs.

The most famous game in recruitment is America’s Army, the online game run by the US Army to allow players to virtually explore the Army at their own pace and determine if their soldiering matches the needs of the virtual recruitment sergeant. And our own GCHQ has a game called CanYouCrackIt. If candidates do crack it, they are directed to a landing page about how to apply for a job.


Firms using gamification in recruitment have reported significant success. Some suggest that candidates arrive at interview more aware of what the job entails and what the hiring company values in its staff. Candidates report spending more time thinking about the organisation and the job than if they simply saw an online advert direct or via an agency.

All this is OK for the big firms, but what options are there for SMEs?

Clearly smaller firms can’t spend huge sums customising games. But there’s much that can be done to further the two beneficial themes – selling the job and firm and assessing applicant characteristics.

Some years ago, as the Web and coding matured, TimelessTime developed its Pre-selector – a lightweight app that does what it suggests. It’s an early day assessment completed online to advise hiring managers of how close a match there is between an applicant’s personal characteristics and those needed to excel.

Pre-selector takes just 12 minutes of the applicant’s time. The results are then provided to the hiring manager for use in first interviews. And an abridged report can be given to the candidate.

Predictive validity

The Pre-selector has been applied now in many campaigns and the correlation between this lightweight app and more comprehensive assessments shows it to be fit for purpose. The Pre-selector is easy to customise too and we’ve now tailored it to include material on the firm and job – not quite gamification but containing the two gamification themes of informing and assessing.

So what comes next?

By the end of the first interview, all being well, the candidate thinks they’d like the job and the hiring manager is optimistic that the candidate could be a good fit. But there’s more to be done.

To secure a high predictive validity, the universal measure of quality in selection, the candidate would normally progress to a full psychometric assessment and work sample tests. These would be administered before attending a second interview.

And with simplification of Web services and coding, those too can be administered online. Of course, there’s need to verify the candidate’s identity as they complete the assessment, but this is a problem with which Web developers are familiar.

Online assessment

TimelessTime Pre-Select ReportTimelessTime has now taken this second element of selection towards gamification. Candidates can again complete assessment online in a semi-customised environment.

Of course, it would be wrong to push for full automation, with testing by machine. Machines inform humans and we believe that it will be a long time before we see machines replacing the hiring manager. Ultimately the value here is in the two themes – informing the candidate about the firm and job and advising the hiring manager on match. Ultimately it is for that manager to validate what the automated systems are saying. Ultimately it is for the hiring manager to decide to hire or reject.

There’s no question – Web-delivered customised assessments deliver quality in selection. It’s not America’s Army but it’s pretty close to CanYouCrackIt. Call us if you’d like to understand what gamification might offer your firm in recruitment.