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Criteria Corp Blog

The Latest in HR Technology and Pre-Employment Testing

Game-Based Assessments 101

Written by Michelle Silverstein

There’s a lot of buzz about game-based assessments as a way to evaluate candidates in the hiring process. Game-based assessments are so enticing because they seem too good to be true – they seek to turn something that can be stressful and tedious into something fun and engaging.

As with anything that promises to solve our hiring woes, game-based assessments are unsurprisingly met with a healthy dose of skepticism. However, it's clear that game-based assessments can add a ton of value to the candidate evaluation process, and we think they represent a promising new frontier in hiring. Let’s dig into what game-based assessments are and how we see them positioned in the hiring landscape.

 

First, what is a game?

Games typically have several qualities in common. First, they’re typically fun. Of course, “fun” can be subjective from person to person, but the intention is for the assessment to have that element of game-like fun to it. Without that, it’s just a typical assessment.

Second, games involve a set of rules that define the gameplay.

Third, the player typically gets to make a series of decisions within the bounds of a defined set of rules. These decisions are oriented around achieving a goal, whether that goal is to beat other players or to get the most points.

And fourth, the game typically results in some sort of quantifiable outcome, which is typically expressed as your score, or whether you win or lose.

 

Why game-based assessments?

This should be pretty clear. For employers, game-based assessments balance two very significant needs in the hiring process. The first need is the same reason that anyone would administer pre-employment tests to candidates in the first place, and that is to identify the skills and abilities that will ultimately predict how they’ll perform in the job. Employers want more predictive information on the likelihood that their candidates will succeed, and validated assessments are a great way to achieve this.

But the need for this information is balanced by a second need – the need to maintain a positive candidate experience that respects your candidates’ time and investment in the process. In a candidate-driven job market, candidate experience is more important than ever, and companies are rightfully concerned about appealing to their candidates. Game-based assessments have emerged as a way to balance the need for predictive information on your candidates with a fun and engaging candidate experience.

 

How are game-based assessments delivered?

There are a lot of ways that these games can be created and delivered to the candidate, and each have their own pros and cons.

First, mobile game-based assessments are the most exciting and tangible way to deliver assessments to candidates.  Mobile has become a greater part of all of our lives, and we know that candidates are using their mobile devices to search for jobs, so it makes sense to meet the candidates where they already are. Mobile games have the added benefit of leveling the playing field a little bit, because many candidates might not have easy access to a computer to take a more intensive assessment. By making it easier for candidates to take the assessment wherever or whenever they want, mobile games reduce some of the barriers that discourage candidates from applying.

Simulations can be another type of game-based assessment. Simulations typically place candidates in a certain scenario related to the work environment and ask them to make choices based on that situation. One of the nice things about simulations is that they can be immersive, but one of the drawbacks is that simulations are often highly specific to that particular job, and you typically need to have one custom-built, which can be a huge investment. As technology changes over time, simulations can be costly to update or modify. They can also be more difficult to administer or even to grade, depending on the type of simulation.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are newer areas of exploration in game-based assessments. However, there are a lot of limitations preventing VR from become mainstream at this point. For example, very few people have VR-compatible equipment at home, so if you are using VR as a pre-employment assessment, you have to administer it on-site. VR content can also be quite expensive to produce. Even worse, many people don’t react to VR well. Research has found that up to 40% of people feel some degree of motion sickness from VR, which is clearly not conducive to enhancing the candidate experience. VR is an exciting direction for assessments, but the technology has a bit of a way to go.

 

What do game-based assessments measure?

Game-based assessments can theoretically measure any of the same types of things that you can measure through a traditional pre-employment test. The question is how well do they do it, and are you sacrificing the validity to make it into a fun game? Because ultimately, it doesn’t matter how fun the game is. If it isn’t predicting job performance, or isn’t validated to do so, then there really is no point in using it in the hiring process.

Let’s start with cognitive aptitude. Cognitive aptitude is the best predictor of job performance of any hiring factor, and pre-employment tests have always been one of the best ways to measure cognitive ability. When it comes to game-based assessments, we’re also seeing that cognitive ability presents the greatest opportunities, which is why we’ve focused on cognitive aptitude when developing our own game-based assessments.

Personality traits are a little trickier to measure through games. While personality traits aren’t as predictive of job performance as cognitive aptitude, they are quite good at predicting success for particular types of roles. While it can be challenging to create a truly game-like experience that accurately measures personality in a consistent way, we think there’s a lot of promise in this area.  

And finally there are assessments for acquired skills. Acquired skills are things that people can learn over time and demonstrate their knowledge in a skills test. For example, knowing how to use Excel or knowing a certain programming language are both acquired skills. These types of skills can potentially be tested in a game-like environment, but because skills can be learned, these assessments aren’t as predictive of long-term job success as cognitive ability games or even personality games.

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Game-based assessments represent an exciting opportunity for employers to get valuable information about their candidates through a positive, engaging candidate experience. We’re just now seeing the beginnings of what game-based assessments have to offer, and the future looks bright.

Want to learn more about game-based assessments? Watch our webinar on demand: How Game-Based Assessments Can Enhance the Candidate Experience

 

Michelle Silverstein

Written by Michelle Silverstein

Michelle Silverstein has over 5 years of experience in content marketing and writing, specializing in B2B and SaaS with a particular focus in the HR space.

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