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July 11, 2018 6:40 AM

Gamification in Recruitment – Is It Worth the Effort?

Gamification is and has been a buzzword for almost twenty years now. And while the concept has been used to some success in the recruitment industry, it is only in recent years that we’ve seen it become more prevalent. So today we’re taking a look at the potential for success this approach holds and ask the question ‘is it worth the effort?’


 Where it all began

Back in 1999, the US military came up with a genius idea to allow them to locate the most talented prospects for recruitment; a video game. America’s Army became an overnight success and created a buzz around the world as companies and recruiters followed the military’s lead and looked to gamification in their search for the best talent. For almost two decades America’s Army went from strength to strength while gamification in recruitment enjoyed mixed success.



Hot on the heels of the success of America’s Army, a new buzzword hit the world of recruitment. The word ‘recruitainment’ was a truly awful term, and for a time it was the ‘in’ thing that all the cool recruitment folk were talking about. But while this approach was popular for major corporations with money to invest, for small to medium-sized companies the excitement fizzled out quite quickly.

However, in recent years as technology advanced at a staggering rate and accessibility to such tech is now at an all-time high, we’ve seen the return of gamification in recruitment and a more modern approach to recruitment process. Thankfully though, the word ‘recruitainment’ is nowhere to be seen.


So why has it returned?

The simple answer to that is because it’s successful. There are no two ways about it; gamification offers some incredible advantages to the recruitment industry.

The advantages of gamification:

  • It engages your candidates – Engaged candidates are far more likely to make it the whole way through your recruitment funnel, and there’s no better engagement tool than gamification which by its very nature requires the candidate to get involved and stay involved.
  • It’s more accurate than testing – Playing games allows candidates to feel more relaxed and to answer questions and solve problems in a more natural way giving you more accurate results than traditional testing.
  • It can double as a job audition – A little like America’s Army helps the military see how recruits may perform in real-world scenarios, your gamification process can also incorporate some of the work practices for the role you want to fill. It may not be as good as a job audition, but it’s a convenient alternative.
  • It accelerates time to hire – We love accelerating time to hire, and if handled correctly, gamification has the potential to help you do just that. If used early in the process it can assist your screening efforts and reduce the number of phone calls you need to make or interviews you need to hold.

 The fears:

But of course, there are some aspects of gamification that have recruiters a little worried. For example, what about older candidates who may feel a little anxious about games or what about people with little or no interest in games of any nature? There’s a belief that certain candidates will perform badly when gamification processes are used even though they may be perfectly suited to a position.

This is a valid point, and it is why any gamification process needs to be carefully thought out. For some roles, it may be necessary to create processes that are so subtle your candidate doesn’t actually realize they are playing a game. While for other roles an intensive gaming experience may be exactly the type of barometer you need to screen candidates.

If you have reservations about whether or not gamification will have a negative impact on your recruitment efforts then test it out on your current employees. If Bill in accounts and Audrey in marketing can handle the gamified application process for their respective departments then the chances are that so too can the right candidates.


The success stories

There have been many success stories when it comes to gamification and recruitment, but perhaps the most famous is Google’s Code Jam. The international contest was initially started as a means to locate the best programming talent on the planet, and it has been a massive success with thousands of entrants each year.

Another success story is that of the Marriott Hotel Group and their My Marriot Hotel game which players can access through Facebook. This game involves running a hotel and gives Marriott group recruiters a wonderful insight into the abilities of potential candidates. Like America’s Army, this game was made available to everyone who wanted to play and not just applicants for roles. A remarkable effort to locate passive candidates and one that has been quite successful.

There are countless others that have also used gamification to keep their current staff engaged. Deloitte, for example, gamified their in-house training and now enjoy a much higher rate of success for each course. So as you can see, it’s not just a method for finding the best talent but also a way to keep that talent engaged and on board.


So is it worth it?

This depends on several factors.

As we mentioned earlier, there are some roles where gamification might not be the best option or where extremely simple gamification processes are required. You need to consider very carefully whether or not your potential candidates would be suited to this type of approach before testing it out.

Another aspect to consider is one of budget. While there are many affordable gamification platforms on the market, it is another expense that needs to come out of your recruitment budget. And this expense can be considerably more if you choose to have a custom-built game such as My Marriott Hotel. However, the increase in the quality of candidates and the reduction in time to hire should offset this added expense.

Overall, we would say that it is worth testing some form of gamification in your next recruitment drive so you can compare your results with previous campaigns. And with plenty of inexpensive options on the market, it’s a test that won’t cost too much or take too much effort.


Does your company already use a gamified recruitment process or are you still on the fence regarding its usefulness? We’re of a mind that in can help but we also know that it takes more than a recruitment game to locate the best candidates for your pipeline. If you want to know more about how vsource can help you build a pipeline brimming with talent, then request a demo today, and one of our sourcing consultants will walk you through the process.

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