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The Gamification of Recruitment

Written by Phil Roebuck | August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gamification 2Unless you’ve been living on an Amish farm, then you’ve probably noticed that gamification (“gay-muh-fi-kay-shun”), or the application of game-mechanics to non-gaming fields, has crept into most every facet of our daily lives. From checking into Foursquare to usurp Mayorship of your local Starbucks, to winning an auction and submitting buyer feedback on eBay, gaming is everywhere, particularly in B2B and B2C.

From a marketing perspective, gamification isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, as businesses have been running sweepstakes in one form or another since the dawn of advertising. But these days we are also seeing businesses “gamify” various internal processes in order to improve productivity and motivation. And that trend is growing.

In fact, Gartner recently projected that by 2014, more than 70 percent of global businesses will have at least one gamified application in their system.

Talent WarGames, or Super Mario Recruiter 3

So the notion that gamification would eventually begin to alter the recruitment space should come as no surprise.  Since recruitment is inherently competitive – i.e. the desire to attract and place more qualified candidates than your competition, faster and for less money – it’s a primed industry for gamification. Furthermore, the act of searching for a job – “hunting” – is kind of a game in and of itself. It’s no joke, of course, but it’s definitely kind of a game.

Why else would LinkedIn inform you that you’re a “Top 5% Viewed Profile” other than to give you a feeling that you’ve won something in the professional networking game?

Mona Berberich, an HR consultant at Better Weekdays, says that gamification in recruitment works because “as we’re rewarded in the short-run, we increase our engagement and loyalty in the long run.”

Since the goal is to increase engagement, and recruiters love nothing more than to engage a talent pool, it’s no wonder that we’ve already seen several successful examples of gamification in the industry.

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently unveiled Multipoly, in which potential candidates take part in a 12 day long, virtual simulation of being a PwC employee. Each player is given various missions that include tasks like joining the online community, negotiating with a mock-client, and product training classes. When a mission is completed, the player receives points and is a step closer to being offered a job.

In another example of recruitment gamification, Palo-Alto based startup Quixey recently held an online coding competition wherein players had to solve an algorithm bug in under a minute. The winners received $100 and a job interview. The result has saved Quixey around $40,000 in recruiting costs, and four software engineers have been hired in three months! Not to mention what the free publicity on tech-oriented message boards, blogs, etc. did for Quixey’s brand awareness.

And in a veritable salute to this trend, even our nation’s recruitment pioneers, the U.S. Army, developed a game called America’s Army that simulates the experience of being an actual recruit. In addition to acting out various wartime scenarios, the game educates potential recruits (or candidates, so to speak) on various career paths within the Army. More than 9 million copies of the game have been downloaded!

Not all recruitment games have to engage the talent pool. As I mentioned, many businesses are using gamification for internal processes to engage and motivate their own employees.

For example, tech-firm Herd Wisdom has released an app for HR teams called Most Wanted that rewards employees for referrals to open jobs. From their website: “Instead of your HR department combing through Facebook for candidates, employees will recommend their friends and associates because they want to win fabulous prizes.”

It’s HR Goes to Vegas!

But seriously, I wonder how HR teams could potentially gamify other aspects of their recruitment culture to build long-term brand identity. Take candidate transparency, a hot-button issue here at Webrecruit. I imagine that without much effort a company could create a program that measured the quality of a recruiter’s interactions with candidates and then reward those recruiters making extraordinary effort.

Not all fun and games…

Of course, the gamification of our industry also raises some questions. For one thing, a popular recruitment game that causes a spike in a company’s applicant pool doesn’t necessarily mean a spike in qualified applicants. If there isn’t an effective way for the game to screen candidates for aptitude, as in Quixey’s coding contest, then a company will most likely be stuck with a warehouse full of mediocre applications to sift through.

There’s also no shortage of old-fashioned skepticism that gamification is just another technological process that could take hiring further away from human interaction. It’s Luddite thinking, but can a game really predict whether a candidate is a good “fit” for a company’s culture?

And from an internal perspective, there is an obvious risk in gamifying your recruiter’s performance, because then your team is only working to get numbers up as opposed to focusing on the actual quality of hire.

Ultimately, we must remember that it’s still a very young technology.

Brian Burke, Research Vice President at Gartner, says that “most attempts at gamification currently miss the mark, but successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans, turn work into fun, or make learning a joy. The potential is enormous.”

Winning the Game with Webrecruit!

Here at Webrecruit, we haven’t enacted any gamification in our culture as of yet, besides the occasional water-cooler round of Connect Four…

But given the innovation in recruitment tools – whether it be video interviewing or highly specialized and searchable social networks – the gamification of the industry will be something to track, indeed.

For the same reason social recruiting is undeniable, so then engaging your customers and employees through games will be indispensable, because it will be the only sure way to motivate a highly distracted populace.

And if you doubt me on that point, then you’ve never played Angry Birds.


Are there other examples of gamification that you can point to, either as a recruiter or as a job candidate?

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