Game On

Game-based assessments add interaction and engagement to virtual hiring practices.

By Larry Nash

All facets of business have been disrupted in the past year, including the way organizations source, attract, assess, and hire future-focused talent. Companies pivoted to a virtual work environment, forcing recruiters to quickly shift hiring strategies to continue fostering connections with and securing top candidates. Now, as organizations continue to operate amid uncertainty and look to return to in-person interactions in the future, talent acquisition teams can modernize the hiring process by incorporating innovative technologies and tools like game-based assessments.

Game-based assessments are interactive games built to assess non-technical skills like cognitive abilities and personality constructs in quick and engaging ways. Collecting this information can help recruiters form a more complete assessment of a candidate.

At Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), game-based assessments aren’t the sole deciding factor to move a candidate forward, but they do offer numerous benefits: They can provide better insight into the distinctive skills a candidate can bring to the organization; reduce unconscious bias in the sourcing stage; enhance the candidate experience and interview process; and help teams make better, more data-informed hiring decisions.

Enhancing the Overall Interview Process

Just as recruiters and HR leaders are adjusting to the virtual hiring process, prospective candidates are having to adapt too. With interactions limited to virtual forms of communication, prospective candidates are being asked to showcase their knowledge and skills through tech-enabled tactics like prerecorded and live video interviews.

Game-based assessments can help by keeping candidates engaged throughout the hiring process. Candidates play a series of games that are aligned to the cognitive abilities and personality constructs of high performers. Each game has a time limit and a candidate will answer as many questions as they can in that timeframe. Not only does this approach make recruitment more interactive, but it is a fast way to advance in the hiring process while providing the talent acquisition team with useful insights on the applicant.

According to EY US, gamification can also accelerate the interview cycle and screening process. While a 15- to 20-minute assessment doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need for multiple interviews, it does help recruiters get to know the candidate faster and ask better questions. These assessments can test specific skill sets like innovative thinking, creativity, and time management—all of which wouldn’t be as easily analyzed through a resume or a traditional interview. Plus, condensing the time between interviews and a decision on whether to extend an offer benefits both the candidate and the organization.

Making Data-Informed Decisions

Just as many companies are relying on data to make operations more efficient, so too are HR leaders leveraging it during the hiring process. The use of gamification gives organizations an opportunity to assess a candidate’s non-technical skills and attributes, which are often difficult to determine in a behavior-based interview.

The games gauge how a candidate interacts with and processes information. The assessments provide additional insights on a candidate, including attributes like analytical thinking, problem solving, personality, and work style.

By analyzing the data that results from these assessments, leaders can better determine whether a candidate would be successful in the role. Ultimately, this can result in a better-informed hiring decision and can have a direct impact on business outcomes due to higher levels of employee engagement and lower employee turnover.

So far, early candidate feedback about their experience using the technology has been positive. Each candidate receives a report that summarizes the unique competencies and insights that were assessed. Recent candidates shared that they were impressed by how accurately the assessment was able to develop a profile of their working style, personality, and how they process information. It was more comprehensive than they expected, given how short the games were.

Reducing Unconscious Bias

Organizations like EY US have long embedded diversity and inclusion into their business processes, including hiring practices. As companies begin to ramp up hiring efforts, they face an increased demand to hire and develop a more diverse workforce. Yet, given the human element of the recruiting process, the potential for bias still exists in many interviewing and assessment processes today.

If hiring were simply based on a resume or an interview, recruiters could unknowingly allow preconceived yet unconscious biases toward accents, appearance, career experiences, gender, and age to play a part in the hiring decision. Adding anonymous, game-based assessments can provide valuable data that helps showcase the best person for the role without human bias. In fact, on average, companies that have used virtual interviewing processes like gamification to remove biases have seen a 16% increase in their diverse pipelines.

Putting Plans into Action

Organizations and potential candidates are demanding recruiters move faster and more boldly during the hiring process, but introducing and implementing new technologies takes time and people. At EY US, HR leaders offer training sessions with teams across all areas of hiring—from campus recruiters to hiring teams and the executive level. The trainings offer education on the benefits of these tools, how to use them in the recruiting process, and give participants the opportunity to experience these assessments firsthand. This is critical in ensuring the best experience for both the candidate and the recruiter.

Many companies have used the new virtual environment as an opportunity to analyze their operations and rethink who they are and how they work. The same can be true for the talent attraction and acquisition space. EY US has embraced technology in a multitude of ways and will continue to do so in the future. By implementing technology like game-based assessments, virtual interviewing, and automation into recruitment, the hiring process can be a better experience for both the candidate and for the organization. By leveraging the power of data while maintaining the human touch in the candidate journey, organizations can make better-informed decisions to save both time and revenue.


Larry Nash is the EY Americas director of talent attraction and acquisition at Ernst & Young LLP.

The views reflected in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.

Posted March 16, 2021 in Screening & Selectionin Talent Acquisition

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