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Gamification, Assessments and Recruitment – Is it Worth the Hype?

At Testgrid we pride ourselves on being at the absolute cutting-edge forefront of innovation. We get excited about new developments in the world of assessment and are open to integrating new tests and technologies. We understand that change is a constant and even more so in today’s incredibly fast-paced marketplace.

Our psychologists are also very strict regarding reviewing the psychometric rigour of new assessments because—as a brand agnostic company—we need to ensure that our clients have access to only the most valid and reliable “best of breed” assessments on the market.

One of the latest developments that have repeatedly caught our attention In recent years is the increasing use of ‘gamification’ in online assessments.

 But first, what is gamification?

‘Gamification’ is defined as the application of game-playing elements (e.g., point scoring, fun activities, rules of play, interactive items, multimedia) to other domains. The hugely successful Salesforce CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool is a good example of a ‘gamified’ software.

The gamification of processes and systems benefits business because it increases usability. The more user-friendly your tool is, the more likely that people will use it. Gamification makes the user experience (UX) engaging—and even fun—so that users enjoy using your software or assessment tool.   

Gamification has now come to the world of online assessment and recruitment.

Some organisations have successfully implemented gamified assessments to attract younger, ‘digital native’ candidates, and to position their environment as a modern, fun or innovative place to work. Gamified assessments were initially developed with younger generations in mind: such as graduates who may be uninspired by more traditional recruitment processes. Given that gamification has its roots in consumer marketing, it does lend itself very well to branding and attraction.

An example of a gamified attraction tool is an interactive video or game that can act as a realistic job preview. In 2015, Uber released an online game called ‘UberDRIVE,’ which invited prospective Uber ‘driver-partners’ to experience a ‘day in the life’ of an Uber driver – to help them decide whether they wish to apply to drive for Uber.

However, when it comes to gamified cognitive assessments, critics have questioned the validity and reliability of many on the market; citing the lack of robust evidence (thorough technical manuals, and so on) available. While realistic job previews (or ‘Situational Judgment Tests’) can be very effective for certain purposes—even if they’re gamified—they are still less valid than traditional cognitive assessments in predicting actual on-the-job performance.

Some Australian graduate employers report using gamified assessments in their recruitment processes. According to the 2018 Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) Employer Survey, 71% of graduate employers are using aptitude (cognitive ability) testing, 32% are using personality assessments, and only 19% are using gamified assessments.

Some organisations have partnered with testing providers to create their own bespoke, fully-branded and customised gamified assessments. Unfortunately, customisation may also mean that test validation (and accurate measurement) is questionable at best.

Before implementing a gamified assessment, consider:

  • Is it valid and reliable? Ask to see the Technical Manual.
  • Will it measure what you’re trying to measure? Some gamified assessments are tailored to measure working memory or general executive functioning, for instance, rather than verbal or numerical reasoning.
  • Will it engage your candidates? In more senior populations, for instance, will it be perceived negatively? Or, will candidates question the game's relevance to the job they are applying for?
  • Is it accessible to candidates with a disability? Some gamified assessments can present concerns for candidates with disability: for instance, tasks requiring differentiation between different coloured patterns disadvantage individuals with colour vision deficiency.

Gamification has its merits in the right context (particularly in candidate attraction), however, on the whole, it is an innovation still in its early infancy. From a psychometric properties perspective, many gamified assessments aren’t quite where they need to be yet. In short, it’s too early to tell.

It all boils down to the assessments that will deliver the most accurate and effective hiring decisions.

While candidate experience is obviously critical, it is also important not to neglect the reason you're using assessments in the first place: to make accurate hiring decisions. The quality and accuracy of assessment results are paramount: if you do not measure the right things, you may not make the right hire.


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But let’s not take our eyes off the ball just yet. Just as with all technology and innovation trends, we are intrigued to see how gamified testing will develop over the next 12 months.

Contact us today to ask us about gamified assessments or organisation-specific cognitive or behavioural testing solutions.