Let the games begin- five things you need to know about gamification in recruitment
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What do you imagine when you think of computer games? An angry teenager hurling their controller through a television screen? Or do you see it as the future of recruitment globally?

Despite its negative press, video and computer gaming, or gamification, is well on its way to becoming a primary tool in the recruitment process across large and small corporations throughout the world. Gametrack estimates that 18.8 million people, or 40% of the population aged six to 64 in the UK, were gaming in 2016, averaging 8.8 hours per week1. With such a large gaming community, it is no surprise that gamification has started to seep into recruitment processes in order to attract more applications and to test candidates’ skills and intelligence in novel ways. But, why is it any better than our non-gamified recruitment trends?

  1. It personalises the recruitment process, making it enjoyable and removing anxiety for students

With early careers and recruitment-related anxiety on the rise in students, according to our recent Trendence research, gamification could be the means by which to mitigate student worries and allow them to display their skills with minimal emotional stress.

Aptly coined as ‘Recruitainment’, gamification allows students to enjoy the recruitment process through quizzes, virtual industry challenges, company-related gamified quests and behavioural tests. This familiarises the students with the company and allows them to learn about the company and their prospective role while having fun.

  1. Allows employers to see how students fit into their company and role before hiring them

By providing applicants with a simulated work environment, employers allow candidates to engage in the role they applied for before they have been given or accepted an offer. This means that they can learn more about whether they like or want to pursue the role without having to make any contractual, financial or logistical commitments beforehand.

Matt Jeffery, SAP vice president, global head of sourcing and employment brand, believes gamification is widely misunderstood: ‘People rushed in and thought it is about adding a game to the recruitment process, which isn’t quite right’2. It’s not just adding a game; it is adding an experience of the company and how a student fits into it early in the recruitment process.

  1. It removes the opportunity to pre-plan answers in depth

Students can prepare for interviews; however, gamification is used by employers to test how students think on their feet and reveal how they react to spontaneous and unprepared situations. This gives employers a more accurate view of the students’ true ability, rather than how well they have prepared for the interview.

  1. The process of elimination is much faster and less subjective

As competition for early careers places rises, employers are seeking to whittle their numbers down and target the top candidates as efficiently as possible, without any unconscious bias. Gamification allows them to do this.

Gamification can be a form of ‘blind recruitment’, which eradicates any context of an individual and allows employers to specifically focus on merit and performance in the game alone, before advancing to the next stage.

Companies can test specific skills such as time management, creativity, innovative thinking, adaptability, motivation, productivity, and logic (to name a few) all in one short process before interviews are even considered. Thus, time is saved and there is no bias before a face-to-face interview.

  1. It establishes a company’s brand as an interesting, innovative leader in its field, especially among students

Gamification is a trendy, modern and revolutionary concept that excites the younger generation and attracts potential student candidates. Therefore, it can help establish a company as a standout brand leader in its field against other companies who aren’t as keen to adjust to a changing society.

Gamification is predicted to continue its upward growth and presence in business, as shown by the graph below. The global gamification market was valued at USD 5.5 billion in 2018, and it is estimated to see a CAGR of 30.31% from 2019 to 20243. Gamification may give employers a more accurate representation of how a student will perform in a job role; however, it makes it near-impossible for careers services to prepare students for this aspect of the recruitment process. Each game is different and will have been designed specifically for that employer or have been adapted to assess particular traits important to them.

The best advice you can offer students is to:

  1. Take it seriously. Your students don’t have to be a pro-gamer, but they should approach it as they would any other part of the recruitment process.
  2. Play somewhere quiet. Students’ lives are full of distractions, so reminding them to play it somewhere quiet is important. These games generally take around 25–30 minutes to complete and can be complex in design.
  3. Read the instructions. It can be easy for students to jump into a game without fully understanding what they have been asked to do. The student may only have one chance to play the games, so advise them to double-check the instructions before proceeding.
  4. Be themselves. Remind your students that employers are looking to see how candidates handle situations. Second-guessing themselves and trying to demonstrate what they think the employer wants to see may have a negative impact on their performance.  

For more information for students, see ‘The graduate job hunter's guide to gamification’ available on the TARGETjobs website.


1 Game Track, 2016- https://www.isfe.eu/publication/gametrack-digest-q4-2016/

2 Matt Jeffrey, SAP vice president- https://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2014/11/using-gamification-recruitment-strategy

3 https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/gamification-market