Gaming your way to the right talent

When it comes to hiring the right candidate for the job, recruitment software isn't the only piece of programming for the task; video games are now playing a role in the hiring process. Specially designed games are able to collect a wealth of data about a job seeker, enabling companies to narrow down their selection process based on people analytics.

A knack for assessing job candidates

Several megabytes of data are collected about a candidate through just 20 minutes of game play.

In even the simplest of video games, players make countless conscious and subconscious decisions about what tasks to complete, how to complete them and in which order. Games designed for people analytics can measure these factors as well as other data, such as how long a player hesitates over a button before pressing it or changing his or her mind. All this information can then be compiled and analysed to determine a player's potential and aptitude.

One of the companies behind these games is Knack, a Silicon Valley startup founded by Guy Halfteck. Companies looking to use people analytics in hiring can direct candidates to Knack's suite of games, including Balloon Brigade, Dungeon Scrawl and Wasabi Waiter.

While candidates play the games, Knack collects and analyses the data, presenting it to companies in what it calls a Knackalytics report. A significant amount of data, more that what an employer would learn by looking at an aptitude test, is collected about a candidate through just 20 minutes of game play, Halfteck said in a December 2013 issue of The Atlantic.

Putting gamified people analytics to the test

One of Knack's most notable clients is Royal Dutch Shell, which ranks within the top 20 largest public companies worldwide according to Forbes. Shell's Game Changer unit is a small team charged with identifying the most promising business ideas from internal and external submissions. While the team has a strong track record, the process is time consuming – only about 10 per cent of ideas make it through the two-year vetting process.

The Game Changer unit partnered with Knack for a test of the system; previous idea-submitters played through Dungeon Scrawl, and Knack was asked to determine which of the submitters were most likely to have generated an idea that panned out. The results proved to be powerful, as Knack's list of people matched the Game Changers' track record.

As people analytics gains traction in the hiring process, job seekers may find a quick video game as common as an interview.

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