11 Reasons Why Games are Better Than Traditional Assessments in Recruitment

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

”Are you going to tell me that making applicants play a series of games is a better method to assess my candidates than personality questionnaires? No way.”

And yet, today, this person is a user of Equalture’s game-based assessments when assessing candidates and we frequently joke about the absurdity of the statement they once made.

In this blog, together we’ll outline why game-based assessments surpass traditional assessment methods in recruitment.

Game-based assessments: A short introduction

Before we dive into the reasons why games outperform traditional assessments in hiring, let’s first clarify the difference between the two.

 

  • Traditional assessments are tests used to evaluate applicants’ ability, ultimately using those results to predict their future job performance. Some examples are personality tests, cognitive ability tests (CAT), skill-specific tests, situational judgement tests (SJT), and more. 
  • A game-based assessment has deliberately built-in game elements that capture hundreds of data points on a player’s behaviour. These data points are leveraged to indicate a person’s behavioural characteristics or cognitive abilities.

 

Gamification is a big trend in recruitment – in particular, applied to assessments. It is often introduced during the hiring process to provide candidates a more pleasant and immersive experience. Gamification applied to a hiring setting brings more benefits to the table and resolves a number of fundamental issues that traditional testing formats suffer from. 

Here are 11 reasons why games outperform traditional assessments.

11 reasons why games outperform traditional assessments

#1 Reliable & scientifically validated

You are probably aware of the two most popular traditional assessments out there – Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and DiSC personality assessment, right? 

Well, I certainly hope you aren’t using either of them for candidate screening because the following will shock you:

  • According to Indiana University Bloomington, as many as 50% of people arrive at a different result the second time they take a test, even if it’s just five weeks later..
  • Personality assessments have low validity when it comes to predicting future job performance.
  • You might think that candidates with certain types of MBTI could be good colleagues or have complementary skills with you and advance them to the next step of the hiring process. However, you should be aware that this kind of compatibility matching does not have a scientific backup or even a strong theoretical foundation. 

 

In fact, both companies have a disclaimer on their website stating that the scores obtained from the test are not recommended for pre-employment screening (DiSC Profile; MBTIOnline).

How a game-based format prevents this? 

Instead, game-based assessments are built upon decades of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, developed according to the COTAN Review System and extensively validated, with a focus on Reliability and Construct Validity.

To sum up:

  1. Games: High validity, built upon decades of modern behavioural and cognitive neuroscience and validated as novel scientific instruments.
  2. Traditional Assessments: Low validity, lack of a scientific backup or even a strong theoretical foundation.

#2 Candidate Experience

Given that candidates are already aware that they will be evaluated, it is understandable that they may also feel anxious. It is therefore unnecessary to also make the assessment process tedious and dull in addition to causing stress.

Once you create an efficient, data-backed selection process you will be able to make fast hiring decisions objectively without losing decision quality. Additionally, you will create a candidate experience that is efficient, and fun and gathers all the relevant information. After all, the best candidates on the market take only 10 days in their job selection period. 

Games allow you to create a candidate experience that is unforgettable.

game-based assessments averag cx rating 2022

To sum up:

  1. Games: Are fun to play and therefore make candidates forget that they are assessed;
  2. Traditional Assessments: Prone to being boring and therefore make candidates more aware of the fact that they are assessed.

#3 Reporting

Traditional assessments are prone to broad and generalizable ways of presenting results. For example, some personality-test publishers make very broad statements about each type of personality, causing us to think the report is scientifically precise (Guastello et al., 1989; Snyder, 2000). When in fact, the statement can be suitable for everyone. 

In the hiring process, you need to be extra cautious when making decisions using this kind of reporting as it is too general for you to make a valid and fair judgment of a candidate.

How a game-based format prevents this?

Rather than relying on self-report measures or broad personality traits, game-based assessments can assess specific skills and abilities. This allows for a more nuanced understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, rather than relying on broad and potentially misleading statements.

Overall, game-based assessments offer a more detailed and accurate way to assess candidates in the hiring process, helping to ensure fair and valid judgments. On top of that, providing you with easy to interpret candidate reports that make your job more efficient.

Reporting game-based assessments

To sum up:

  1. Games: Easy to interpret candidate science-backed reports that make your job more efficient.
  2. Traditional Assessments: Broad and generalizable reporting.

#4 Measurements and data

Traditional assessments in hiring often focus solely on the end result or outcome, rather than the steps or processes taken to achieve that result. Of course, outcomes are important, but how about the steps taken to come to that point? Shouldn’t the road to success be just as important as the success itself? 

Focus on solely the outcomes, however, means that the assessment may not take into account the various strategies and approaches that a candidate uses to solve a problem or complete a task. Instead, it is primarily concerned with whether the candidate was able to successfully achieve the desired outcome. This can be problematic, as it may not accurately reflect a candidate’s skills or abilities, and may not provide a complete picture of their potential as an employee.

How a game-based format prevents this?

In contrast, game-based assessments in hiring often place emphasis on evaluating the processes and strategies used to reach a particular outcome rather than just the outcome itself. This is because the way in which an individual approaches and solves problems can provide valuable insights into their skills, abilities, and potential fit for a role. 

By focusing on the steps taken to achieve a result, game-based assessments can provide a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s capabilities and potential for success in a particular role.

 

To sum up:

  1. Games: Measure a candidate’s outcome and all data concerning skills and behaviour to achieve this outcome.
  2. Traditional Assessments: Measure purely outcome.

#5 Candidate behaviour

When it comes to traditional assessments, they are focused primarily on capturing conscious behaviour. This means that candidate is aware of the tasks they are being asked to perform and can deliberately apply their skills and knowledge to complete them. Thus, leading to more inaccurate results (because of things such as social desirability and self-reporting bias, for example, but more on that later).

How a game-based format prevents this?

On the other hand, game-based assessments are designed to capture both conscious and unconscious behaviour. 

They get the candidate “in the zone by immersing them in a realistic scenario, game-based assessments can reveal how a candidate naturally responds to challenges and opportunities, both consciously and unconsciously. Thus, leading to a more accurate assessment of a candidate’s skills, abilities, and characteristics.

To sum up:

  1. Games: Reveal both conscious and unconscious behaviour of candidates; allowing you to get a more holistic view of a candidate’s potential and fit for the role.
  2. Traditional assessments: Reveal mainly conscious behaviour as the candidate is aware of the tasks they are being asked to perform and can deliberately apply their skills and knowledge to achieve a certain result.

#6 Trainability

When we google cognitive assessment, we can see an overwhelming list of training materials for cognitive assessment (such as logic tests, spatial reasoning tests, etc.) or a preview of question sets in personality tests. It leads to the potential threat that people who have the resources to access this kind of training materials are more favourable than those who do not.

What is worse is that we do not really know in advance whether our candidates have done these training sessions. As a result, what we get from the test score is how familiar the candidates are with the assessment itself, but not an accurate measurement of the strengths of their cognitive abilities.

How a game-based format prevents this?

Gamified assessments are better at concealing what exactly the games measure (Tountopoulou et al., 2021; Nikolaou et al., 2019; Armstrong et al., 2016). For example, while playing games during an application procedure, if the candidates are not fully aware of the purpose of the game, they will play striving to win, not to appear in a particular light. This leads to a more accurate evaluation of candidates’ abilities.

To sum up:

  1. Games: candidates cannot practice the games upfront and the hundreds of measurements are unknown when completing the game.
  2. Traditional Assessments: practising common cognitive tests (figure series, pattern recognition, etc.) leads to inaccurate results and measurements.

#7 Time

A longer assessment is more prone to being burdensome for candidates and is likely to negatively impact their experience. It often requires more time and effort on the part of the candidate, which could lead to feelings of frustration or resentment. 

Additionally, a longer assessment is also likely to be more tedious and less engaging, which could lead to a decline in motivation and a decrease in the overall quality of the assessment. 

How a game-based format prevents this?

In contrast, a shorter assessment, such as a game-based assessment, is actually not only more efficient, but also enjoyable for candidates, which could lead to a more positive experience.

To sum up:

  1. Games: Takes candidates 25 to 30 minutes to play;
  2. Traditional assessments: Takes candidates 45 to 90 minutes to complete.

#8 Social desirability

A traditional assessment might also provoke a phenomenon called “social desirability bias” (also known as “self-presentation”). It can occur as (un)intentional faking, whereby candidates (involuntarily) choose the most socially desirable answer instead of the options that represent them the most (Ganster et al., 1983). 

Landers and Sanchez (2022) have summarised the three dimensions of faking, which are motivation to fake, ability to fake, and opportunity to fake:

  • Motivation to fake: It refers to whether one chooses to engage in faking behaviour.

  • Ability to fake: It refers to whether one has the mental resources (such as knowledge, cognitive capacity) to fake.

  • Opportunity to fake: It refers to whether one has the possibility to fake.

 

How a game-based format prevents this?

  • Motivation to fake: Assessment designers can focus on creating a gameful design that enhances immersion, which in turn triggers the flow state and makes people ‘forget’ that they are going through an assessment.

  • Ability to fake: Increase the cognitive load in the game or create a novel game setting where participants have less knowledge about how to fake.

  • Opportunity to fake: Assessment designers can implement a low transparent game setting that forbids participants to identify what response pattern would be beneficial to them, therefore reducing the opportunity to fake.

 

To sum up:

  1. Games: No room for social desirability since candidates often don’t know which traits are measured per game, thus making it difficult to behave (play the games) in a socially desirable way.

  2. Traditional Assessments: More room for social desirability due to the way of questioning (which already reveals what is measured within the question).

#9 Self-Report Bias

Traditional assessments (personality tests) often use self-reports as the primary instrument to collect applicants’ responses. This means that the candidate is asked to rate themselves on certain characteristics, for example their level of accuracy or collaborativeness. 

However, the truth is: we might be more accurate when being asked to predict others’ behaviour compared to predicting our own (e.g., Epley & Dunning, 2000). 

People are not capable of accurately assessing themselves. Therefore, many traditional assessments that rely on self-reporting are actually not very predictive of what someone is like as a person (Dunning et al., 2004; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998).

How a game-based format prevents this?

Mariona Serra Palomares, People Business Partner at Heura Foods quote

Gamified assessments are using objective behavioural measurements (e.g., reaction time) to evaluate candidates. It reduces the use of human judgments as much as possible within the score-collecting process, leading to consistency in assigning scores to candidates truly based on their capability.

Engaging in games and using contexts that diagnose the ability of candidates in more specific situations lead to more solid inferences about future performance than assessments that depend on self-reporting (Fetzer et al., 2017; Fiore, 2016).

To sum up:

  1. Games: No room for self-report bias as a result of objective behavioural measurements.
  2. Traditional Assessments: Room for self-report bias due to measurements that are not objective.

#10 Culture Bias

The potential threat of the traditional tests is that they are being developed within one culture and often do not take cultural differences into account. It leads to interpretation bias that could result from any combination of construct, method or item bias (Church, 2001).

  • Construct bias: Occurs when the targeted construct only slightly overlaps across cultures.
  • Method bias: Includes sample bias (nonequivalence of cultural sampling), instrument bias (distinctive response styles) and administration bias (practical issues while distributing the test).
  • Item bias: Could result from the improper translation or the inclusion of items that are less relevant in certain cultures.

How a game-based format prevents this?

Compared to traditional tests, gamified assessments can adjust the game flow to provoke the same level of motivation for individuals from different cultures, which includes various cultural values (Guhl & Cordeiro, 2017). 

Apart from that, gamified assessments limit the usage of text. As words can be interpreted differently depending on a person’s cultural background, this also reduced the chances of Culture Bias impacting the assessment results.

To sum up:

  1. Games: No room for cultural bias.
  2. Traditional Assessments: Prone to cultural bias, leading to inaccurate or unfair assessment of individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

#11 Neuroinclusivity

Traditional tests can be disadvantageous for neurodivergent people due to the way the test is set up. For example:

  • Autism: Certain words in a personality questionnaire can be interpreted differently;
  • Dyscalculia: Traditional cognitive tests are built around numbers;
  • Dyslexia: Personality questionnaires are text-heavy.


How a game-based format prevents this?

Gamified assessments lower the barriers for neurodivergent people. In the design of the assessments, specific barriers for neurodivergent people can be taken into account. Some examples:

  • Focus on behaviour instead of text;
  • Limitation of numbers;
  • No time limits in relevant tests.
CX rating Neurodevelopmental diagnosis

To sum up:

  1. Games: ensure neuro-inclusivity through the inclusive design of assessments.
  2. Traditional Assessments: disadvantageous for neurodivergent people.

Time to unlock the power of game-based assessments

So, there you have it – 11 reasons why games beat traditional assessments in recruitment.

If you’re still having any doubts or reservations about gamified assessments, or simply if you haven’t had the chance to experience one before yourself, why not try it out?

There’s no pressure, we just want to share our enthusiasm for gamification with you!

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