Here’s How A Video Game Could Help You Hire The Perfect Employee
Hiring people can prove as tricky as trying to get hired, and even more so. A potential employer or recruiter has a lot of things to take into account. Identifying whether an employee has the right skills for the job, assessing whether a candidate who looks good on paper is also able to perform when confronted with the reality of the tasks, and ensuring that the chosen employee is the right fit for the team, and that he or she will work with are just a few of the considerations.
This task might seem daunting, and discovering ways to help with the decision making will sometimes take more creativity than you could imagine. Enter gaming. The latest trend in human resources and recruiting seems somewhat unconventional, but do not turn it down just yet.
Discovering Employee Skills Through Gaming
Different jobs require different skill sets. One job might be heavily focused on creativity and being able to work on your own initiative. Another on making sure that you work well with others and across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, and making sure that you feel comfortable with having to adapt your work to fit strict guidelines from a supervisor. Hiring a person who is a bad fit is costly, both in terms of time and resources. This is what Angela Antony, a Harvard University graduate, was researching when she came up with the idea that would evolve into Scoutible, a start-up based in San Francisco.
According to her research, 46% of new hires leave the job within 18 months, while according to research firm Gallup, employees who are bad fits for the job, and thus not happy and as productive as they could be can cost the American economy around $450-$550 billion per year. This is why, along with her business partner Mark Cuban, they came up with the idea for Scoutible to help ease the hiring process. The central idea of their start-up is testing people’s skills and talents through a game, and the results were impressive.
The game consists of a series of tasks that the applicant has to perform by navigating through the map as the game’s lead character and interacting with PC-controlled characters. Examples of missions undertaken include protecting the king of a fictional land from a plot against his life and making ends meet as a castaway on a deserted island. Each choice you make informs the game’s AI and algorithms, built by a team of psychologists and engineers at Scoutible, and is measured to create your profile. The platform and the metrics can be adjusted to focus more on abilities that are crucial for the job at hand.
What Can Games Really Tell Us About Who We Are?
Using games to measure skills is not that new an idea, if we really think about it. Many well-known games are traditionally associated with specific skills and abilities, and hiring professionals sometimes inquire about a candidate’s favorite game or ask them to solve mind puzzles disguised as games in an attempt to assess their potential. Everyone knows that chess, for example, is considered perhaps the best strategy game ever invented; a player has to constantly weigh options and think ahead, and the game is often used as a basis by consultants when trying to stimulate personal growth techniques in their clients.
Similarly, a preference for elaborate and popular card games like bridge reflects effective communication skills, as those required when you try to convey information about your hand to your partner during the bidding phase. Other types of games, such as blackjack, tap into the ability to make an accurate risk assessment as you need to quickly calculate odds and card values based on the information you have so far in order to decide whether you should hit or stand. Games like Minecraft, that allow you to build entire cities out of simple blocks, are usually a favorite of creative people who like to see the results of their actions, while popular online multiplayer games like League of Legends, where players are required to go on quests as part of a team, can reveal great teamwork and collaboration skills.
Why You Can’t Cheat In This Game
One of the most important elements of Scoutible’s game is that there are no right or wrong decisions, you cannot “win” or “lose”. Instead, the focus is on creating as accurate an image as possible, with different reactions reflecting a wide spectrum of skills, ranging from resilience and leadership potential to effective communication skills and creativity. This concept is a response to the inaccuracy reflected in self reporting surveys: a lot of people misrepresent themselves when asked to describe their skill sets. They do it either intentionally, to better fit the job description and land the job, or subconsciously, because they sincerely believe they have what it takes. But in a game, you react intuitively, and that is when you truly reveal yourself, overcoming even your very own biases about who you are. No “best” answer is obvious throughout the game, so you cannot really “beat” the algorithm.
They must be on to something at Scoutible, because their solution seems to work. According to Antony, they have around 20 clients so far, and they were able to predict ratings for customer service employees across a team of 150 within a margin of 1%. For another client, a sales department was evaluated and Scoutible predicted performance on the job 4.5 times more accurately than conventional methods like job interviews. They say that they will continue to adapt their product and enhance their AI software to be able to take more factors into account.
So who knows? Maybe tapping into someone’s potential by using a familiar platform like a game that allows them to intuitively apply their skills in a safe environment is not such a bad idea when it comes to choosing the right person for the job. In fact, it sounds a lot like the future in employee recruiting.