The selection process in the world of recruitment has remained unchanged for decades, but is it the best formula to identify the most suitable candidate for an open vacancy? It is worth questioning age-old practices to see if they are the best route to successful recruitment, particularly today where available talent is scarce, especially within the IT field. As current career opportunities outweigh candidate availability in many spheres, job seekers are spoilt for choice, and prospective employers need to work harder to stand out, impress and make the right selection.
There is a growing body of research that points to the decline – and potential expiration – of the interview process, thanks to other methods providing richer information when it comes to candidate selection. One such method is gamification, the concept of applying gaming mechanics and design to non-game contexts.
Some companies have already adopted this new pathway. They report that besides enabling them to formulate better informed decisions, gamification makes the selection process more efficient as it allows them to focus only on those candidates who have made it through specific role-related tasks.
Gamification in recruitment is not a completely novel concept. It first surfaced, mostly in international markets, in 2011. Nonetheless, it is only recently that this activity is gaining more traction in Malta. This late adoption is possibly attributable to the fact that the issue of ‘high-demand-to-low-supply-of-candidates’ has intensified considerably in the last couple of years. In addition, the importance of recruiting the right people has intensified due to the competitiveness of the local industry and Malta’s increasing attractiveness as a workplace compared to competing nations.
Examples of gamification in IT recruitment vary from code jams that aim to give a better understanding of candidates’ actual technical skills, to logic-based quizzes that seek to provide insight into candidates’ intellectual abilities. Intrinsically, this is a shortlisting exercise that excludes candidates whose skills fall short of minimum criteria set out by the recruiting company.
Gamification also distributes equal chances across a larger pool of candidates as it tests for aptitude rather than relying solely on personal performance during an interview. This is especially relevant when candidates are interviewing for technical or hands-on positions but lack refined interpersonal skills that are necessary in an interview. In this way, companies also benefit from a more comprehensive perspective of different candidates.
Beyond yielding efficiencies and better-informed decision-making, gamification tends to help companies in their branding efforts. Adopting such a fun element indicates that their brand and company culture believes in innovation and creativity. Entities like Google and Umbel have adopted such concepts and have seen tangible efficiencies both in recruitment and in retention. They attribute this to the fact that recruiting managers were more informed about the quality of selected candidates while giving the latter a better gist of the difficulty level and standard expected of them. A number of local companies that have also incorporated gamification into recruitment testify to similar advantages.
Despite the many advantages of using gamification, companies also need to keep a vigilant eye on the risks of over-utilising these practices. Candidate fatigue and the time-consuming element of these tasks can be potential downsides, especially since candidates have numerous different opportunities to choose from. The games should be an added attraction and not an off-putting experience. Having said that, candidates might decide not to apply for particular positions as a result of a gamified selection process. This can be seen as a selection process in itself, but it is important to recognise that candidates might be losing out on opportunities that would eventually pan out to be good prospects for their career while employers are faced with smaller pools to choose candidates from.
Ultimately, I am a firm believer that the benefits of gamification far outweigh the disadvantages, especially for IT companies where recruiting the right developer or engineer is ever more challenging in a market characterised by very few candidates. As with all things, moderation will help users to reap the full benefits that gamification can deliver. One thing’s for sure: recruitment and selection practices are changing and companies need to adapt if they are to retain their competitiveness in attracting the right people.