Trying to Attract Top Talent? Make Recruitment A Game.

Friday, July 27, 2018

  By Carolyn Smurthwaite, contributor at The Underground Group

In short:

  • In recent years, companies increasingly use proprietary computer games to both attract and vet job candidates.
  • Famed recruitment games include ones from Shell Oil Company, Siemens and, perhaps most famously, the U.S. Army, who’s spent tens of millions on its recruitment game “America’s Army.”
  • Recruitment games can improve your hires, if you’re willing to do your homework to find a cost-effective option.

Get ready to “level up” your hiring strategy: “Gaming the system” now has a whole new meaning when it comes to finding and vetting job candidates. 

Over the last few years, virtual games have grown more popular as a way for businesses to improve recruitment strategies and select the correct candidates for open recs. These tools can be game-changers for your company’s hiring efforts.

What is a recruitment game? 

Some companies use their own proprietary computer games as a part of the recruitment or interview processes. The games can serve to get potential candidates interested in a job they’ve never considered before. Once candidates enter the application phase, games can allow them to see how they might fare in a given role while letting hiring managers test their on-the-job performance in a simulated version of the actual workplace.

Who’s used them?

The U.S. Army 
America’s Army” is a simulation used to both recruit and screen potential candidates. Potential recruits can engage in small-unit tactical maneuvers and training that echoes real-life Army scenarios in the game, whose homepage offers also info on the benefits of enlisting. The game is effectively an “immersive, interactive ad for the Army,” media expert Robertson Allen wrote in 2014. After candidates express interest, the Army reportedly uses the game to screen, select and train them. 

Shell Oil Company
Shell hosts “The Shell Explorer Game” on its company website. In the game, players explore a region -- like a city, field or swath of ocean -- and pinpoint areas with oil and natural gas by solving puzzles. Players control a virtual seismic survey truck and advise on how many barrels of oil are needed to complete various energy structures. The idea is that qualified candidates will play the game, succeed, and feel motivated to contact HR about hiring them, writes HR advisor Tom Haak. Thus, Shell’s candidates are pre-screened for them. 

Similarly, Siemens created its “Plantville” game so potential candidates could play the role of a plant manager in the company’s industrial vertical. In the game -- which is no longer running -- players controlled one of three virtual factories: a bottling plant, vitamin plant or train-building plant. Their goal was to maintain plant operations while improving productivity, efficiency and sustainability. They could boost their plant’s performance by learning about infrastructure solutions, and they solved brain teasers throughout the game. “Plantville” was designed to inspire high school or college students to become plant managers, Siemens’s marketing director told Bloomberg when the game launched. With it, Siemens grew its base of interested potential candidates.

Do recruitment games really improve hires?

Josh Millet is the founder of JobFlare, an app that helps jobseekers “get discovered” based on skills that often go unlisted on resumes. In a recent blog post for the Undercover Recruiter, he wrote that gamification changes the hiring process by leveling the playing field: Resumes don’t always capture all a candidate can offer, and some candidates aren’t great at interviewing. A game that evaluates abilities -- like the ability to calculate energy structures  -- allows their true skills to shine.

Plus, Many companies rely on candidates to find them. But if a recruiting computer game is fun and rewarding, it will attract a wide audience of candidates who might not have been interested in a role otherwise.

How do I build my game?

Most companies outsource the build of their recruiting games. Popular vendors include Knack, a “predictive hiring” company that provides games, then crunches data to predict a candidate's success in a given role. Knack compares data to patterns among current employees and ranks each candidate’s fit for both the role and the company overall. Knack will customize the game to your business: For sushi chain Wasabi Warrior, for example, players take on the role of a waiter.

Meanwhile, GamEffective provides games to help in the post-recruitment process. PayPal and Microsoft use GamEffective to onboard employees faster with video-based challenges, interactive quizzes and virtual competitions where players earn points for completing training tasks. The implementation routinely results in a 90 percent completion rate and reduction in onboarding time, according to GamEffective’s blog.

What does it cost?

Online estimates for recruiting games are hard to come by. However, the games likely aren’t cheap: Wired reports that the Army had spent nearly $33 million on “America’s Army” by 2009, not to mention the countless iterations that have come out since.

However, not every game must be so intricate: Take Shell’s “Shell Explorer Game” for example. If you’re interested in using recruitment games, then do your homework, and you’ll likely find a solution that fits into your future.

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