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Is gamified assessment really the future of selection?

Is gamified assessment really the future of selection?

I read recently that a London-based law firm recently caused a stir by devising a video game to help assess their candidates.

City law firm Taylor Wessing came up with "Cosmic Cadet", a space-themed computer game to assess the character traits of their training contract hopefuls. 

As the first organisation in their sector to use this approach, they said their use of technology to enhance candidate experience is an excellent way to strengthen their “diverse and inclusive culture." 

They caveated their new approach by stating that, for now at least, it would only be used as part of their process for recruiting training contract positions. They were also keen to point out the video game would be used to support rather than replace their current assessment methods.

The idea has certainly made headlines. But is this new approach worthwhile? Does the gamification of candidate assessment offer better results?

Well, there are a few points to consider here. 

Firstly, gamification of assessment was originally developed with the next generation of candidates in mind – the generation who are put off or uninspired by traditional selection methods and don't want to sit and fill in an application form or draft a cover letter. It’s clear the use of gaming, especially in the way Taylor Wessing has used it, is a great way to attract younger hires while at the same time cultivating their brand as a fun and engaging place to work.

But you need to look beyond employer branding and examine what gamified assessment really offers in terms of hiring the best talent.

Gamified assessment looks at whether a candidate can achieve a goal, follow rules, respond to feedback and deal with complex situations. You can get this in the form of EASE (Electronic Assessment Simulation Exercise) and FCA (Flexible Competency Assessment). Although I have to confess, they aren't space-themed and they're probably not quite as fun as a video game – not that everyone is going to enjoy a video game as part of the job search, of course. I can think of a few senior hires who wouldn’t be impressed at all!

But whether it’s dressed up with a space-age, headline-grabbing theme or not, the really important bit is the assessment criteria behind it. And if you’re not assessing the right things, it doesn’t matter how much exposure you get or how many applications you receive, you still run the risk of a bad hire. Even if you look to the future, where virtual and augmented reality may well become a means of facilitation, it’s the underlying assessment tool that will determine your success in the new world of work.

So what do people need to assess?

You need to think about mindset. As our European CEO wrote in a previous blog: “organisations are focusing not on skills or competencies but mindset to help them assess and select both existing and future employees. Having a collaborative or change-oriented mindset can be essential in a digitally-enable, fast-paced environment.” If your assessment tools aren't ready to measure mindset, then it’s not ready for the new world of work!

Gamified assessment can be a fun and engaging way to pull in younger hires while maintaining a strong employer brand. But if employers don’t make sure it’s being used to facilitate the right kind of assessment, and that it’s engaging the senior hires as well as the junior ones, it could be game over for them. 

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