Gamification of Recruiting: Playing for Your Next Job

Author: Angela Campiere       


In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover launched an app in a collaboration with the virtual band Gorillaz that allowed some electronics and software engineering candidates to be fast-tracked through the recruiting process. (Courtesy Jaguar)

The cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a single employee can be colossal — the price tag could top $240,000, according to Jörgen Sundberg, founder of London employer branding agency Link Humans. With all that money, not to mention time, on the line, companies want to ensure that they make the right choice. That’s prompting some forward-thinking businesses to opt for a range of recruitment strategies including one that may seem unorthodox — gamification.

Gamification is, of course, not new and is widely used by the military as a way to test skills. But the process of using games or game-like elements in another sphere has been getting a lot of attention in civilian business circles. For example, TalentLyft, a talent acquisition software company, put it on a list of 2019 recruiting trends, saying it should be implemented because it: tests specific skills, saves time, makes the recruitment process less stressful (people like to play games), and lets firms keep up with their competitors. And, as many industry trend watchers note, gamification appeals to millennials, many of whom have grown up playing video games.

“Right now, gamification in HR has primarily focused on employee performance and motivation, yet there are solid grounds for arguing the case for gamification reaching into recruitment,” Merin Mathew, a writer and digital strategist told recruitment firm HR Technologist. “Google and Facebook are already immersing potential candidates in coding challenges to uncover the most skilled of developer talent; while other, non-multi-billion tech brands, are also getting in on the act.”

Other early adopters of the strategy include Marriott International — which in 2011 developed a Facebook game called My Marriott Hotel that allowed applicants to experience the fast-paced environment of a Marriott hotel kitchen — and Jaguar Land Rover — which in 2017 launched an app in a collaboration with the virtual band Gorillaz that allowed electronics and software engineering candidates to learn about electric vehicles while assembling the Jaguar I-PACE Concept Vehicle and play code-breaking puzzles. Successful game players, Jaguar said, would be fast-tracked through the company’s recruitment process. Skills-based games allow recruiters to test candidates’ technical skill and ability and, in the case of Jaguar, “test [candidates’] curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking, and problem solving skills.”

The My Marriott Hotel game, according to a post written by Bill Marriott for the Marriott on the Move blog, gave candidates a chance to run their own virtual restaurant by buying equipment and ingredients on a budget, hiring and training employees, and serving guests. The goal was to attract millennial candidates from all over the world to careers in hospitality.

Gaming techniques also can be used to engage and motivate event attendees. But, experts say, gamification takes skill to pull off. When it’s planned well and fits the objectives of your event, gamification — such as within a team-building activity — can work as a very useful tech tool, said Rob Stanbridge, director of operations at agency MCI UK. It can, he added, boost engagement, drive conversation, embed key messages, and create an experience which people recall and share with others.

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