15 April 2021

A scientific deep-dive into the impact of (gamified) assessments on future job performance predictions


It’s a common question: Why should I trust gamified assessments instead of experience & education (i.e. CV’s), motivational letters & references, when hiring a new team member? In this article, we will be providing you with a summary of years of research that has been done into the are of future job performance predictions. As well as tell you more about the impact gamified assessments have when it comes to job performance predictions.

The power of prediction to avoid making a wrong decision

Preventing wrong hiring decisions can be done by predicting candidate’s future performance. Predicting performance might seem like an abstract construct, or you might have the feeling that it’s very hard to do based on your current way of working. Luckily, this has been a subject of scientific research for a long time and we’d like to share the most commonly accepted theories and results with you.

Bad predictors of future performance

According to meta-analyses based on over 100 years of research, job experience and education are bad predictors of job performance:

  • The correlation between job experience and performance is .16.
  • The correlation between education and performance is .10. 

Especially in an early stage of the hiring process, you should consider other options that give you a better and more efficient overview of what to expect from a future employee. 

Good predictors

General Cognitive Ability (GCA) is the #1 most important trait determinant of job performance. It has the highest validity and also the lowest application costs. It is also the best predictor of job-related learning. GCA is also known as the g-factor, it is essentially the ability to learn. People that score higher on GCA acquire more knowledge in a shorter timespan. In short, a range of correlations have been found between GCA scores and performance, but the minimum correlation stands at .51, with an average of .65. When the job complexity increases the predictive validity of GCA can get up to an impressive .74. 

Other predictors that should be mentioned are interviews (either structured/unstructured) and peer ratings, but they are either very time consuming and costly (interviews) or might be difficult to acquire and add no extra predictive power when you’re using GCA (peer ratings). On top of that, they are less effective in predicting future performance compared to GCA. Structured interviews are however relevant in a later stage of the hiring process, but we’ll get back to that later in this article.  

Equalture’s role

Equalture’s neuroscientific games are a perfect example of GCA, and thus the best predictor of future job performance. We work closely with psychologists, an assessment agency and the University of Twente to make sure that we actually put our money where our mouth is. The results of our clients speak for themselves; they report an average 67% increase in the quality of their hires, while the time to hire on average decreases by 54%. To make sure that the neuroscientific games are actually a valid indicator of the traits they measure, we validate them against other scientifically proven types of assessments that measure the same traits. If both of these scores correlate, we know that that particular game is a scientifically proven way of measuring the corresponding trait. This is called construct validation. We only use games that have been validated. 

Why gamified assessments instead of traditional tests

Why gamified assessments instead of traditional tests

The reason why we chose gamification instead of traditional assessments is as follows: we did this because traditional assessments have a few downsides compared to a gamified approach. First of all, there’s social desirability. A classical personality questionnaire presents all possible items to an individual, which means the candidate can identify socially desirable results. Games also steer a person’s attention away from the feeling of being assessed, thus reducing anxiety, stress and other unconscious behaviours. 

Traditional assessments also have a tendency to induce cultural bias. There’s usually a lot of text involved in these old-school tests, and words can be interpreted differently based on your cultural background. Gamified assessments limit the use of text and thus prevent this type of bias from interfering with the test results. On top of that, social desirability differs between cultures. Examples are workplace behaviour and hierarchy; people will simply provide different social desirable answers in traditional assessments, something that is impossible in a gamified process.

Other measurements we use to prevent bias

We make use of a few ways of controlling for unwanted bias. First of all, we collect someone’s gender, age and nationality. We do this to continuously audit our algorithms for potential demographic biases. This process is called normative ranking. This means that someone who’s older will not be hindered by lower scores because they e.g. are not used to playing games. We do the same thing when comparing people that make use of different ways of input (i.e. mouse, keyboard, trackpad). On top of that, we make sure that people with colour blindness are able to play the games by adding visual cues. Another example is dyslexia; by limiting the amount of text and offering a practice round we make sure that the games are fully understood.

Combining games with other measurements

While the above is already proof that the gamified approach prevents bias from happening, we’ve also added two personality dimensions to our games. These two dimensions, conscientiousness and emotional stability, are part of the Five-Factor Model for Personality (also called the Big Five). Specifically, these two dimensions are known for being valid predictors of job performance. The combination of GCA and these two dimensions is known for being especially strong in countering bias and exclusion. 

Lastly, we are not advocating for getting rid of all types of measurements except for our gamified way of working. We will always tell you to use Equalture at the start of your funnel.

Equalture at the start of the hiring funnel

Our software enables you to make a much better prediction of someone’s future performance and their fit within your company and team compared to the more traditional ways (i.e. CV’s, references etc.). By doing so you will be able to quickly sort your candidates and decide who gets to move to the next round in an efficient and proven way. And that’s where we get back to the aforementioned topic of interviewing. As reading CV’s and interviewing every candidate is a very time-consuming and costly process it would be a waste of resources to do this for all applicants. We will help you with selecting the right candidates, after which you are able to go into more depth about everything you need to know with the people that actually are interesting to you.

And that is the way to go: the combination of GCA and a structured interview or an integrity test will increase the validity of the process and thus job performance prediction to a whopping .76.

Cheers, Jesper!



This article is written by Jesper van Gelder, Equalture’s Head of Customer Success. Jesper has a bachelor’s degree in Organisational Psychology and a master’s degree in Sports & Performance Psychology. As our Head of Customer Success, Jesper is responsible for making our science tangible for our customers, in order to help them hire the best-fits in an unbiased manner.

References

Hunter, J. E., & Hunter, R. F. (1984). Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance. Psychological Bulletin, 96(1), 72–98. 

Robertson, I. T., & Smith, M. (2001). Personnel selection. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74(4), 441-472. 

Salgado, J. F. (1997). The five-factor model of personality and job performance in the European Community. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(1), 30-43. 

Schmidt, F. L. (2002). The role of general cognitive ability and job performance: Why there cannot be a debate. Role of General Mental Ability in Industrial, Work, and Organizational Psychology, 187-210.

Schmidt, F. L. (2016). The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of Research Findings.

Schmidt, F. L., Shaffer, J. A., & Oh, I. (2008). Increased accuracy for range restriction corrections: Implications for the role of personality and general mental ability in job and training performance. Personnel Psychology, 61(4), 827-868.