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IT services company FDM is using game-based assessments as part of its graduate recruitment to make the process more enjoyable for candidates.
The firm has introduced Arctic Shores’ Yellow Hook Reef game as part of the graduate testing process in its UK assessment centres.
By doing so, FDM hopes to increase candidate diversity and that graduates will have a more enjoyable experience when interacting with the brand.
Jeff Lovejoy, UK&I recruitment manager at FDM, said the game-like elements of the assessment were designed to make graduate recruitment more “engaging” after executives had found themselves wondering “what they had done” to students after intense assessment days.
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“Graduates get to the assessment centre excited and they leave looking stressed out,” said Lovejoy.
FDM chose to gamify some of the processes after looking into what technology it could use to make it “a little more fun”, he added.
The Arctic Shores Yellow Hook Reef assessment game focuses on assessing a candidate’s verbal reasoning. FDM chose this when it realised many candidates would fall at this hurdle because they may not be used to how to communicate in a business environment.
“The biggest piece of feedback we got from the FDM academy was the communications skills coming into the business,” said Lovejoy.
Many technology firms looking for technical candidates are finding that potential employees lack soft skills, and for FDM, finding candidates who were good at communicating in a business environment was its “biggest struggle” during the candidate recruitment process, he said.
The firm uses gamified verbal reasoning tests alongside IT aptitude tests, maths assessments and set notation theory to choose the best candidates to move on to the next stage.
During the process, FDM looks for candidates with eight key strengths: drive, resilience, growth, social adaptability, collaboration, strategic awareness, flexibility and a logical mindset.
With 55,000 graduates going through FDM’s applications process and 4,000 passing through its assessment centres in the past year, it is important for the firm to identify the best candidates.
Why gamify recruitment?
Robert Newry, managing director and co-founder at Arctic Shores, said the firm’s game-based assessments were built around the concept of using gaming technology as a means of collecting and interpreting psychometric data.
“We use game technology because it is more engaging to capture people’s real preferences and behaviours,” he said.
When looking into using games for processes such as job applications, Arctic Shores found many candidates were “frustrated” with existing processes, and some were put off from applying for roles altogether.
Assessing how people are playing a game can reveal a lot out about their personality and how they approach problems, he said.
Through its games, Arctic Shores collects 3,000 data points in a 25-minute session, which can be used to assess how a candidate tackles tasks and what kind of role would be a good fit for them.
Personal traits, such as how quickly a candidate finishes an assessment, whether they give up when a task is too difficult, how often they take risks, their cognitive ability, interpersonal style and thinking style can be picked up through gamified tests and developed into a “fit score” for a particular role.
Gamification or game-based testing?
Robert Newry, managing director and co-founder of Arctic Shores, explains the different ways that firms can include games in their assessment processes, and the definition of each:
Gamification – Using game-like attributes in a business context. For example, awarding points for completing certain tasks and using those points for rewards or a leaderboard.
Gamifying – Adding game-like challenges to a standard process. “You’re not talking about points and leaderboards here,” said Newry. For example, cosmetics firm Bodyshop gamified its e-learning process for staff to encourage more people to complete its e-learning modules.
Game-based – Assessments or products that use graphics and a storyline, similar to what would be found in a video game.
Scores can be compared to those of the thousands of other people who have taken these game-based tests to make the data more accurate.
Newry explained: “By using game technology in an assessment, you get real behaviours – you are going to make real choices and real decisions in a task for an assessment. A game now allows you to measure real behaviour. These are all things important to the workplace that we were not able to assess previously.”
Arctic Shores must develop its games without any skills-based elements, or gamers would be able to find a way to “cheat” the assessment by discovering a strategy to improve performance.
“The number one thing to understand about gamification in recruitment is the context of it,” said Newry. “You are now introducing something that is high stakes – depending on how you do determines how you progress.
“It has to be fair, it has to be scientific, and it has to be objective.”
Attracting diverse candidates
Many women choose not to apply for certain technology roles because of the language used in job adverts or because they are put off by the application process. Also, women are under-represented in the gaming industry despite accounting for more than half of the games-playing market.
As gaming becomes more embedded in people’s lives, they are more comfortable interacting with gaming technology, and using gaming in a recruitment assessment process can make it more accessible for minority groups.
“The reason that gamification is interesting in recruitment is because it’s no longer about gender,” said Newry. “We are actually all gamers at heart – we’ve just forgotten it.”
Newry said that not only do companies want to appeal to more diverse candidates, but there is also data to suggest that people from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds underperform in traditional assessments.
“We want now, as employers, to appeal to everybody in every part of the country and from every university,” he said.
Using game-based assessments can help to improve diversity in organisations because less emphasis is placed on the interview process and the person making hiring decisions has an objective dataset they can use to make decisions.
People’s unconscious biases often lead to fewer women and minority groups being hired into the technology industry because those making recruitment decisions tend to hire people who look like them – and the IT industry is mostly dominated by middle-aged white men.
Newry said: “An interview is full of unconscious bias. The point of using data is that it knows nothing – it is entirely blind. Before somebody walks into a room, the recruiter has another data point that tells them the person is really good for that role before they apply their own personal filter.”
Many technology firms complain that graduates are leaving university without the skills needed to fill roles, and in some say that degrees and particular qualifications are becoming less relevant.
But Newry said that if this is the case, employers still need a way to assess whether a candidate would be good for a role, and what skills they have.
“It’s hard for employers to work out what’s important, but if that means you’re chucking out education, what are you replacing it with?” he said.
Assessments that collect data about people’s behaviour can give firms a better overview of candidates, so they know who is more likely to succeed in a role.