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Level Up Your Hiring: Gamification — Fad or Future?

© 2024 Neeljym Search Group® All Rights Reserved

Gamification is the use of game-like elements and principles in non-game contexts. It’s essentially taking the fun and engaging aspects of games and applying them to other areas, like education, marketing, fitness, and hiring, to make them more interesting and motivating. Gamified hiring promises a host of potential benefits for both employers and job seekers.

The whole concept isn’t exactly new. One could argue that the Boy Scouts started gamification in 1908 by rewarding merit badges for learning achievements and ranking up based on accomplishments to motivate and engage young members. In 1981, airlines like Eastern Airlines began using gamification elements in their frequent flyer programs to incentivize travel.

Despite early skepticism predicting its demise, the global gamification market has grown significantly in the last two decades. The gamification in hiring market is projected to be worth around $15.43 billion according to Mordor Intelligence, a market research firm that specializes in technology and healthcare industries. The market is expected to grow to $48.72 billion in 2029.

The rise of smartphones and mobile devices, the increasing popularity of game-based learning, and the growing need for more engaging and effective recruitment methods are driving this growth.

While the market is growing, there is some skepticism about the effectiveness of gamified hiring.

Benefits of Gamified Recruitment

Increased Engagement: Gamification can make the hiring process more fun and interactive for candidates, boosting their engagement and completion rates. This can attract a wider pool of applicants and help retain their interest throughout the process.

Better Assessment: Gamified assessments can offer a more dynamic and holistic way to evaluate candidates’ skills, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making. They can go beyond traditional resumes and interviews to reveal how candidates react under pressure, collaborate with others, and think creatively.

Reduced Bias: Well-designed games can minimize unconscious bias by focusing on objective data and performance metrics rather than subjective impressions. This can lead to a fairer and more inclusive hiring process.

Enhanced Employer Branding: Companies that use gamified hiring can project a more innovative and forward-thinking image, potentially attracting top talent seeking a modern and engaging experience.

Risks of Gamified Hiring

The Serious Business of Play: Remember, hiring decisions have real-world consequences. While gamification might seem lighthearted, the stakes for individuals seeking careers are significant. Ensure the process respects the seriousness of the endeavor and avoids trivializing life-changing decisions. Some candidates might find gamified hiring gimmicky and unprofessional, leading to a negative impression of the company culture.

Ethical Dilemma: Points above people? Gamification thrives on rewards and competition. But when applied to hiring, questions arise about the ethics of prioritizing points over human potential. This raises concerns about exploiting candidates’ desire for incentives and potentially dehumanizing the recruitment process.

The Impact of Gamification on Candidate Experience


Gamification in recruitment can have a profound impact on the candidate experience, both positive and negative.

Inject fun and engagement into the typically tedious application process.

Sense of Achievement: Gamified elements like points, badges, and leaderboards can foster a sense of achievement and competition, keeping candidates motivated and invested throughout the process. This can lead to improved candidate engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, a stronger employer brand.

Showcase Strengths: It allows candidates to showcase their strengths in a way that goes beyond the limitations of a resume, providing a platform to demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, and even teamwork.


Poor Design Fosters Frustration and Mistrust: If poorly designed, games can feel trivial or irrelevant, leaving candidates feeling frustrated and questioning the validity of the assessment.

Lack of Transparency: Unclear explanations of how game performance translates to job qualifications can breed mistrust and dissatisfaction among candidates.

Pressure: High-stakes gamified assessments can generate immense pressure for candidates, jeopardizing their performance and creating an anxious, inauthentic experience. This can lead to valuable talent dropping out, leaving you with only those comfortable performing under intense, game-like scrutiny.

Socioeconomic Bias: Access to technology and familiarity with games can differ across demographics, potentially excluding disadvantaged groups who are less likely to engage with the format. Older generations, for example, might not resonate with gamified elements, feeling uncomfortable or disadvantaged compared to younger applicants.

Can gamified hiring improve diversity and inclusion?

Whether gamified hiring truly improves diversity and inclusion is a complex question with both potential benefits and drawbacks.

Gamification can remove bias from the early stages of the traditional talent screening process by focusing on skills and abilities. It can also give candidates from underrepresented groups a fairer chance to showcase their talents. Engaging games can attract a wider talent pool, potentially reaching individuals who might shy away from traditional recruitment methods. Leaderboards and team challenges can encourage teamwork and break down barriers, fostering a more inclusive environment.

But, there are also some significant concerns. Gamified assessments may potentially disadvantage those with less technical experience or familiarity with gaming technology. They may discourage certain demographics, reducing the talent pool to more tech-savvy game-playing demographics, and potentially risking age discrimination, for example.

Moreover, focusing solely on skills assessed through games might overlook valuable qualities not captured in the gamified format.

Ultimately, gamified hiring’s impact on diversity and inclusion depends on its careful implementation. Games must be accessible, unbiased, and aligned with the organization’s values. To be truly effective, it requires thorough bias testing, accessibility considerations, and integration with the complete recruitment strategy of a company. Companies must consider how gamified hiring fits into their broader recruitment process.

While it holds promise, the question of whether it fosters inclusivity remains open, urging further research and responsible application.

Best Practices for Developing Engaging Recruitment Games

Align Game Mechanics with Job Requirements: Ensure skills assessed through the game directly relate to the actual job demands.
Offer Alternative Assessment Methods: Provide non-game options for candidates who might be disadvantaged by the format.
Clearly Communicate Game Purpose and Scoring: Be transparent about how performance in the game translates to the hiring process.
Pilot Test and Iterate: Gather feedback from both candidates and HR professionals to refine the gamified element.
Prioritize Ethical Considerations: Uphold data privacy, ensure fair access, and avoid manipulative practices.


While gamified hiring holds promise for engaging candidates and enhancing talent acquisition, navigating potential risks is crucial. To do so effectively, companies should:

Prioritize Seamless Integration: Ensure gamified elements smoothly fit into the overall recruitment process, avoiding disruption or confusion for candidates.
Foster Inclusivity and Fairness: Design games that cater to diverse candidate backgrounds and abilities, offering equal opportunities to showcase skills. Gamification should empower, not exclude.
Complement, not Replace: View games as valuable tools to supplement traditional assessment methods, not a complete replacement. Maintain a balanced approach that leverages both for optimal results.
Align with Job Requirements: Tailor game content to accurately reflect the skills and behaviors needed for the specific role. Avoid generic assessments that offer limited insights. Steer clear of games designed for entertainment purposes.
Provide Clear Feedback: Offer constructive and personalized feedback after each game stage, helping candidates understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

By implementing these guidelines, companies can unlock the true potential of gamified hiring, creating a positive experience for candidates while attracting and retaining top talent.

Examples of Gamified Hiring Platforms

Here are some exciting examples of gamified recruitment platforms, along with companies that leverage them and relevant sources for further exploration:

Platform: HireVue Game-based Assessments

Companies: Unilever, Nestlé, Dell, Deloitte
Features: Video interviewing with game-like elements, AI-powered analysis, simulations for specific roles (e.g., customer service)
Benefits: Improved candidate experience, data-driven insights, reduced bias, better cultural fit assessment

Platform: Emjoy

Companies: Bosch, Siemens, KPMG, Bayer, L’Oréal
Features: Gamified exercises for soft skills and emotional intelligence assessment, personalized feedback, team challenges
Benefits: Deeper understanding of soft skills, improved talent selection, boosted team collaboration

Platform: Pymetrics

Companies: Unilever, Nestlé, Airbnb, Uber
Features: Data-driven games for cognitive and behavioral assessment, predictive insights into job performance, customized talent pipelines
Benefits: Reduced hiring costs, higher retention rates, improved workforce diversity

Platform: Criteria Games

Companies: Vodafone, Deutsche Bahn, Siemens, Nestlé, Unilever
Features: Game-based assessments for cognitive abilities and problem-solving, adaptive algorithms for personalized difficulty, real-time insights for recruiters
Benefits: Efficient candidate screening, reduced time-to-hire, identification of high-potential candidates

Platform: VRdirect

Companies: Bosch, Siemens, DHL, Deutsche Bahn, Marriott International
Features: Immersive VR simulations for realistic job previews, skill assessment in virtual environments, data-driven analysis of performance
Benefits: Enhanced candidate engagement, improved assessment accuracy, reduced risks of bad hires, stronger employer branding

Remember, these are just a few examples, and the gamified recruitment landscape is constantly evolving. Explore available platforms, consider your specific needs, and choose the one that best suits your recruitment process and candidate experience goals.


© 2024 Neeljym Search Group® All Rights Reserved