“Gamification” of Recruitment Process: A Potential Disruption or A Hype?

Avani Tiwari,

Research Intern,

Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law.


The nature of recruitment is changing expeditiously with the growth of the workforce population. Technology-enabled change is the need of the hour for both, employer and employees. It is certain that right from children to adults, humans, fancy games. They find it engaging, get motivated when they get rewards and are instinctively drawn towards games. Lately “Gamification” has surfaced as a new buzz word among HR Professionals. This has led to the origination of new terminology, “Recrutainment” which is a combination of the words, “recruitment” and “entertainment”. of A lot of companies nowadays are resorting to ‘Gamification Strategy’ considering the advantages it has to offer. Latest technological trends like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual/Augmented Reality and the obvious to mention “the Internet Age” have added new dimensions to it.

WHAT IS MEANT BY “GAMIFICATION/ GAMIFICATION STRATEGY”?

A Gamification Strategy is defined as “the process of taking something that already exists – like a software application or online community – and using gaming techniques to motivate consistent participation and long-term engagement”.[1] Gamification works on Game Mechanics which are the elementary units of gamification. They make up the gameplay through rules and create an engaging experience through rewards.[2] Game Dynamics like competition, surprise, progress, achievement etc. are used in line with the Game Mechanics to persuade and engage participants via a gaming platform.

Consider a platform where employees have customized dashboards where they can track their progress, compare it with that of others, receive rewards on reaching different levels. This is one such illustration of the use of gamification.

TRADITIONAL RECRUITMENT PROCESS AND ITS PITFALLS

The recruitment process involves steps like identifying job vacancy, communicating it to potential hires, accepting and reviewing applications, screening, shortlisting and finally hiring. The traditional process requires candidates to submit their CV/ Resume, Cover Letter, complete assignments, answer questions etc. Some of the major complications that traditional methods pose are as follows:

  • Time Consuming and Lengthy Process: Recruitment is a multi-staged process. A large number of applications make it cumbersome. This leads to spending a substantial amount of time recruiting than doing something more productive, innovative and income-generating. According to LinkedIn[3], “only 30% of companies are able to fill a vacant role within 30 days and the other 70% take anywhere between 1 - 4 months”. As per a survey in 2016, 56% of recruiters responded that lengthy hiring procedures lead to their inability to recruit good candidates.[4] It was also found that the lengthy hiring process would lead 57% of job seekers to lose interest in the job.[5]

  • Bias and Lack of Diversity: Traditional methods of recruitment rely largely on humans and their decision often suffers from conscious or unconscious biases such as confirmation bias, affect hysterics, expectation anchor, beauty bias, intuition, judgment bias etc. Diverse teams tend to tackle problems efficiently and devise creative solutions. However, constraints like a place of conducting the hiring process for candidates, biases by recruiters tend to hinder the recruitment of diverse teams. As per LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2017, recruiting more diverse candidates was ranked as a top trend in the near future by 37% of the recruiters.

  • Hiring requires a skilled and dedicated workforce: Small organizations face difficulty in having a dedicated and skilled team of HR Professionals for recruiting the best suitable candidate for them.

  • Aversion of candidates towards traditional application process: In a survey conducted by MRI Network in 2019[6], 26% complained that they were dissatisfied with the traditional process as it was lengthy and lags communication. Out of those who were dissatisfied, 71% said that uploading a resume and still manually uploading information already available on the resume was an issue, 58% said that submitting a resume for a job which you are qualified but knowing that it will not be seen/reviewed by a real person was a problem and 40% said that the lengthy process was dissatisfying.

ADVANTAGES OF GAMIFICATION OVER TRADITIONAL APPROACH

The traditional recruitment process is a tedious process. It involves reviewing a multitude of applications in the initial stages. Screening and Interviewing also tend to be exhausting for organizations. Despite that most organizations are not able to fill a vacancy in a reasonable time and incur heavy expenses during the whole process. Even when candidates are hired, it is not certain whether they are apt for such job profiles, whether they possess the practical skill for the same or not. CVs/Resumes can be misleading at times. To cater to such problems technology is displacing recruitment process. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the use of technology for the same.

Gamification of the recruitment process is one such use of technology. Following are a few advantages that ‘Gamification of Recruitment Process’ has to offer:

  • Filter out genuine applications: It is to be noted that, a considerable number of candidates apply to a number of places randomly without researching about the organization they are applying for. Most of them do not even have proper knowledge about the kind of work they are applying for and their interest in the same. They just send their CV and cover letter and depend on the contingency of getting selected. This increases the number of applications for the recruiters and is a burden for them. If games are used instead, only those who are really committed to getting the job and completing the game would stay and rest others would leave considering the time spent on completing the game and their interest for that job; less interested will step out; only relevant applications will remain.

  • Overcomes the shortcomings of CV /Resume based recruitment: A CV can be misleading. It fails to give a complete and real insight into the talent and skills of a candidate. It is fruitful only to the extent of knowledge about a candidate’s educational background, professional experiences etc. But the question which needs to be addressed here is that, whether the educational background of a person is a true test of his/her skills? The question can be answered in affirmation to a certain extent, but what about the skills like planning, speed, goal orientation, flexibility, learning ability, accuracy, monotony tolerance etc. Can such skills be assessed simply through CV, cover letters and assignments? The obvious answer would be a “No”. Using games instead, which are designed to assess a particular skill or skill set would definitely be the logical substitution.

  • Helps in building diversified team: Diversity in teams has a lot of benefits right from increased creativity and innovation, better problem solving and decision making to increased profits. Traditional recruitment suffers from a lack of ability to build diversified teams due to the following reasons:

  • Various biases by recruiters (conscious or unconscious);

  • Candidates having related educational background, from elite institutions and previous work experiences in the similar field are preferred, conveniently leaving out the ones who are making a career or who want to change their sector/industry. They may possess great skills and may have the ability to adapt.

  • Pre-employment tests like personality tests might leave out an introvert but even they might have some skills that could add value to the organization.

  • Interactive, fun and engaging: Gaming is more interactive and fun. It showcases company culture. If a company is a fun place to work, more quality candidates would like to work there.

  • Easy evaluation of candidates: Gamification reduces the need for experienced HR Professionals in certain stages of the recruitment process. One such example is the reviewing of applications which require skilled professionals for better result. However, by using a game one can do so without much difficulty, experience and with good quality. For example, sales, ethical hacking, stock trading jobs could use games/virtual platforms specifically designed for those purposes.

  • Less time consuming: Time to hire gets reduced when games are used instead of CV/Resume based applications. Even the assignments that are required to be submitted as part of the process takes several days to get reviewed. Back and forth emails make the process tedious. Games can give automatic test results and screen immediately rather than shortlisting then screening, which is time-consuming.

PERILS ATTACHED TO GAMIFICATION STRATEGY

Everything has its pros and cons; technology is no exception. Even the gamification strategy, which is a mode to overcome the pitfalls posed by the traditional recruitment process, suffers from certain limitations.

  • Assumptions of technology are unproven;

  • There is no surety about the quality and the gains of gamification;

  • When AI is used for gamification purposes, biases may arise as AI works on the basis of the data fed to it and such data might suffer from the bias of the programmer;

  • Some use facial analysis as one of the test components while failing to consider that cool metrics has no or low relation to performance.

  • Following are some of the points to be noted before implementing a gamification strategy:

  • Make a reasoned/judicious decision as to the type and extent of gamification and always try to answer the question, does it actually solve the problem faced by us? All these decisions need to be made keeping in mind a long-term view.

  • Not everyone enjoys competition, some might even go to extents that are not ethical or moral just to claim the rewards on completion of the game.

  • Don’t go too deep too early; maintain a balance.

  • Make sure you convince the candidates that the game used is the best or at the least a better way of selection; that the game is efficient and accurate in assessing the skill it aims to assess.

PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

Colonel Casey Wardensky (then Chief Economist of the U.S Army) in 1999 with his team introduced "America's Army": the first military developed video game targeted at young teenagers. The goal of the game was to collect "honour points and those tenacious enough to work their way through the mandatory medical training were let free with digital grenade launchers, Humvees and heavy machine guns. The game was launched for free as a way of fastening the captivated future candidates.[7] The game is now coming up with its 50th version.

Back in 2004, a billboard that read “{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits}.com" . was placed by Google on Highway101 of Silicon Valley to entice and recruit brilliant math-minded people. The answer was 7427466391.com which would lead them to a web page with another problem and solving that would lead to a page on Google Labs. The page said that Google was searching for the best engineers and being able to reach that page would mean that the visitor was the one.[8]

Some other international examples include the British Civil Servant Exam aspirants answering MCQ based on video scenarios as a part of the selection process; McKinsey’s complex ecological computer games.

Even India is not behind in this race, Make My Trip designed a captivating training platform with the help of “Mind Tickle" (a leading gamification player). The new hires were required play the game on that platform to familiarize themselves with the culture/values of the organization in an effective manner.[9]

The Indian School of Business, Hyderabad is another such example. To reach out to thousands of its Alumni, it designed a hot air balloon race and a trivia to help participants interact with others and learn about the institutional updates.[10]. Various game components like rewards, leader-boards etc. were used.

Some other Indian examples include HCL (gamification to predict whether a person will join after the interview or not); Marriot’s game “My Marriot Hotel” which simulates the real experience of running a hotel. It was designed to test and hire freshers.

BOTTOM LINE

A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is defined as “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network”.[11] While the hype is simply a slang used instead of the word “hyperbole” which means an exaggeration. The Cambridge Dictionary defines hype as “a situation in which something is advertised and discussed in newspapers, on television, etc. a lot in order to attract everyone's interest.”

As per NASSCOM’s report on “Applied Games in India” published on November 2016, the global applied games market was expected to reach USD 5.5 billion by 2020, growing at a rate of CAGR 16 %. While the Indian applied gaming market was estimated to reach 66-69 million in 2020 and was expected to grow at CAGR 14-16%. As per the report, India could be the next hub for gamification and applied games.

As per the 2019 Recruitment Trend Study, by MRI Network, 62% said that the use of external recruiters has not changed despite the introduction of new recruitment technology. 63% said that the length of the hiring process has not changed over the past years. Coming to the candidates, 74% of them said that they are satisfied with the traditional recruitment process.

It can be inferred from the data presented above that gamification has given upsurge to new markets and it is expected to grow in future. But when it comes to the recruitment process, the majority (recruiters as well as candidates) are still reluctant to change their traditional recruitment process and are satisfied with the same. Considering Gamification Strategy’s advantages over the traditional process and the fact that many big organizations like ISB, Make My Trip, even the American Army is using the same, it would not be wrong to say that it is something more than just a “hype”. For the purpose of recruitment, although, it cannot be considered as a disruption in HR as of now, it evidently has the potential of becoming one. Amidst the COVID-19 situation, “Gamification” can probably even become the new normal.


References

[1] Cameron Brian, 6 Gamification Strategy Tips for your Business, (Jan 22, 2020), https://everyonesocial.com/blog/gamification-strategy-tips/ [2] What are Game Mechanics?, https://www.bunchball.com/gamification/game-mechanics. (last visited June 7, 2020) [3] https://www.slideshare.net/pedrooolito/linkedin-global-recruiting-trends-report-2017 [4] 2016 Recruiter & Employer Sentiment Survey MRI Network [5] Robert Half, Are you Taking too Long to Hire? , https://www.roberthalf.com/research-and-insights/workplace-research/are-you-taking-too-long-to-hire (last visited June 7, 2020) [6] 2019 Recruitment Trends Study [7] Daniel Howden, Time to Reboot the Gamification of Recruitment, https://resources.workable.com/stories-and-insights/gamification-recruitment, (last visited June 6, 2020) [8] Stefanie Olsen, Google Recruits Eggheads with Mystery Billboard, (Aug. 12, 2004, 5:16 PM), https://www.cnet.com/news/google-recruits-eggheads-with-mystery-billboard/ [9] Understanding Gamification – How Leading Brands Are Using Gamification for Employee Engagement and Hiring, (Jan 20, 2014), https://www.socialsamosa.com/2014/01/gamification-indian-organizations-examples/ [10] Id. [11] The Encyclopaedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.

 

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