Why Traditional Methods of Hiring are Being Replaced?

Games at Work Apr 21, 2019

In 2016, Unilever completely overhauled its hiring process with some astonishing results. After implementing a new methodology for a year (June 2016 - July 2017), Unilever, North America, published its study results -

  • It’s socioeconomic representation was more diverse.
  • The number of applications doubled and the number of universities represented went up to 2600 from 840 the year before.
  • The average time for a candidate to be hired went from four months to four weeks and the recruiters’ time spent reviewing applications decreased by 75%.
  • The rate of offers to candidates who made it to the final round increased to 80% from 63% and the acceptance rate of these offers increased to 82%.

What was this new hiring methodology that made such a huge difference?

Here is what the Game Changer was -

The company had decided to use games based on neuroscience to understand its job applicants better!

Instead of traditional method of hiring based on resumes and interviews, it started using Artificial Intelligence to screen its entry level applications. An applicant is required to play 20 minutes of games based on ‘psychometric tests’ after she has submitted her LinkedIn profile.

Unilever, being one of the oldest and largest FMCG companies, processes around 1.8 million applications every year. This change in methodology meant a huge change in mindsets and processes.

Then, why did Unilever overhaul the traditional method of hiring? Is the need to add ‘game based assessments’ to hiring methodology a ‘necessity’?

Here are the 5 reasons why games score over traditional methods of hiring -

1. Resume vs Games

A Harvard Business Review article (Spotting the Great but Imperfect Resume) succinctly sums up the problem of spotting talent based on resumes:

“Recruiters and senior executives are pouring tremendous energy into finding the right resumes. But we’re losing the ability to find the right people.”
A side view of a person typing out their resume on their laptop while being seated at their desk
Image Source: Shutterstock

With millennials, this problem is more aggravated. As a generation, they do not believe in giving up on experiences for the sake of a ‘perfect resume’. A college drop out with great coding skills, an entrepreneur who sold a business and wants to rejoin the corporate world may not have the perfect resume but might have the perfect ‘skills’ for technical or leadership roles. So how do you really ‘assess’ these ‘acquired skills’ which cannot be showcased in a resume?

Game based assessments provide an answer!

Because these games are gamification of ‘on the job abilities’. They are a better predictor of talent than a resume might ever be!

2. Interview vs Games

Olivia Bland, a 22-year-old, who attended an interview early this year with a UK technology firm in Oldham, Greater Manchester, tweeted about her bizarre experience.

She claimed the interview started in an “utterly bizarre” fashion in which the Chief Executive Officer, who conducted the interview, picked on her music tastes before revealing he was scrolling through her Spotify account while they were engaging in conversation. She then described how the interviewer reduced her to the point of tears by telling her how everything about her was wrong. After this, she was offered the job!

The tweet lead to public outrage on social media with outpouring of similar ‘biased bizarre’ experiences by thousands. The interviewer (the CEO of the company) responded with an apology in which he attributed his behaviour to being “sleep deprived and anxiety-driven”.

A photograph of a candidate being interviewed by four people sitting at a desk, the photograph has the candidate's back towards us, the four interviewers are listening intently
Image Source: Shutterstock

Though this might be an extreme example but no interview can be completely fair. Biases, inconsistencies, interview fatigue, etc. are a very integral problem of the interview process which can be minimised but not eliminated.

Not so for Games! A well designed, validated and standardised game can eliminate human biases towards gender, race, socioeconomic class, etc. to bring in more diversity and a better skillset to the workplace.

3. Questionnaire vs Games

If a company has too many applications for a position, the most common screening methodology used is a ‘written test’. These written tests are multiple choice based questionnaires. These include -

  • Numerical tests for finance positions
  • Verbal reasoning based MCQs for sales roles
  • Logical reasoning (diagram based) for operations
A photograph of a person filling up a form that has checkboxes.
Image Source: Shutterstock

This might be a great way of testing ‘aptitude’ but is it a good way of testing a person’s real life problem solving ability or social skills? Can critical thinking or leadership skills be assessed based on a ‘bucketed answer list’?

On the other hand, Games create scenarios where not only aptitude and logical thinking but also critical thinking, lateral thinking and divergent thinking can be evaluated. These scenarios are also adaptive in real time i.e., if you are performing well in critical thinking, the game level keeps on increasing and vice versa. Thus games are a great way of testing for abilities required for a job role.

4. Pre-employment 360 Degree Feedback vs Games

Imagine this question pops up at you, as a part of your 360 degree feedback process.

What is the likelihood of your ex-employer giving a positive recommendation to you?

  • Most likely
  • Likely
  • Unlikely

How do you really answer this question if you are not sure about your ex- manager’s opinion of you.

If you say ‘most likely’ but the actual feedback is not positive, your new recruiter will not view it in a positive light. If you say ‘unlikely’, isn’t it a ‘negative’ already?

Games remove this ambiguity. Games can test a person’s social skills, need for autonomy and ability to deal with authority without the ‘player’ even realising that her social skills are being assessed!

5. Traditional Methods Rely on ‘Ideal Self’ Whereas Games Rely on ‘True Self’

Traditional methods demand that we put our ‘ideal self’ forward- glossing over that career gap, proclaiming to be a team player while one wants autonomy- all to get a job. But once on the job, can we really maintain that ‘ideal self’ day on day? Probably not- leading to dissatisfaction, performance issues and even attrition.

Games on the other hand demand that we put our ‘true self’ forward. For example, am I ok with taking risks to gain more points or do I strategically lose a point now to gain two points later? How I play the game gives an insight into how I think. Thus games are more insightful than traditional methods of hiring.

No wonder, more corporates are subscribing to something Plato said 2500 years ago:

“You Can Discover More About a Person in an Hour of Play than in a Year of Conversation!”

PerspectAI is a powerful game-based assessment tool for data-driven talent decisions. Candidates engage in serious games that are designed to challenge them and measure their true potential. It not only provides a deeper understanding of candidates’ abilities, but also helps organizations find the “right candidate”.

To know more on how you can bring games to your talent management processes, click here.

Games at Work is a 6 article series written by Dr. Meghna Varma, Principal Research Consultant, at PerspectAI. The series takes a deep dive at how Games can transform our workplaces, if deployed for hiring, understanding human potential, training, assessments and problem solving.


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