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4 Facts to Know About Games-Based Assessments in the Hiring Process

May 8, 2018

How do candidates feel about a gamified application process? Does gamification affect the validity of employee assessments? As we continue through the world of automation, AI, VR, you name it...Games-Based Assessments (GBAs) were also a big topic at SIOP 2018. GBAs and gamification are popular areas of research and practice for the field of I/O Psychology, however there are still many questions to be answered about GBAs and, in particular, how they might be used in the hiring process.

game-based assessmentFirst, it is important to understand the differences between the terms. GBAs are not the same as gamification. Gamification is the process of applying the mechanics of game-play to non-game based situations to encourage a specific behavior or outcome. Often, simulations can also fall under the umbrella of tests that have been gamified. GBAs are assessments that are designed to feel more like a game, but various knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) are measured during game play. It is important to know the difference between the two because many companies are actively using gamification in selection, while fewer are using GBAs in selection.

With that in mind, here are 4 facts about gamification and games-based assessments in the hiring process:

1. Method does not change the construct being measured.

Some may believe that measuring certain characteristics or constructs with games will give you a more accurate prediction. While there is still research to be done in this area, it should be understood that certain aspects of measurement will not dramatically change based on the measurement method. For example, if one is claiming to completely eliminate group differences in cognitive ability assessments by using GBAs or gamification, it is likely due to a lack of reliability or the tools are actually measuring a different construct.

2. There is validity!

Gamification tools have been used with proven validation results. For example, we see significant correlations between competencies measured with simulations in assessments and performance on the job. Here's how to successfully add a production simulation to your hiring process.

3. Fairness is a key discussion point.

An important discussion point during several sessions at SIOP was around test fairness with simulations. The key here is face validity. Face validity is the degree to which a procedure, especially a psychological test or assessment, appears effective in terms of its stated aims. That is, the test you take doesn’t make you say to yourself, “what on earth does this have to do with the job?” Unfortunately, with GBAs and gamification, some might get carried away with creating a game that they forget to make the game relevant to the target position to which the applicant is applying.

Read more: Are you Hiring a Nurse or a Pirate? Face Validity in Employee Assessments.

4. Fun should not be the goal.

Although we want the applicants to have a great experience, fun is not be the number one goal. A new job and career is an important thing – when applicants go through the hiring process, they want to be taken seriously, treated fairly, and not feel like a ten-year-old kid trying to beat the next level in Candy Crush. Of all applicant reactions that we collect, not many give feedback saying they want the application process to be more fun. People understand that getting a new job is a serious process. Candidate reactions may actually go down significantly if your main focus is to have a cutting edge game that is really fun. People may not take it, and your company, seriously.

Though GBAs and gamification can add another great predictive element to the selection process, they are not a one stop shop to cure all your turnover problems. Like any other selection tool, a strong multi-method approach which includes this method, along with other validated methods in the process, will have the best results.

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Trevor McGlochlin Trevor McGlochlin is a Research Consultant at PSI. He leads the Financial and Automotive verticals within R&D. He earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology. His areas of expertise include selection, employee turnover, organizational development, applied research, and statistical analyses. His analysis work is centered around validation, adverse impact, turnover analyses, assessment scoring, and other data analysis.