Should You Be Using Gamification for Senior Roles & Senior Candidates?

Anete Vesere (1)

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

”Gamification might work for junior hires, but not for senior hires.” 

Game-based assessments help you to gather crucial insights, reduce unconscious bias, allows you to focus on high potentials amongst many other benefits, however, there is still a lot of scepticism around using game-based assessments when hiring for senior roles. 

That’s why in this blog, we’ll discuss the three most common objections and why they do not reflect reality at all.

An example: Learning ability & why it matters for senior roles

Research has shown that learning ability as a skill is crucial for specific management and leadership roles as these are the individuals forced to adapt to the constantly changing, complex business environment organizations face today. Thus, if the assessment of an individual’s learning ability in this case should play a vital role in determining whether someone has the potential or not to succeed.

Imagine you’re hiring a CCO for your company. You probably focus on previous experiences and take that as an indicator of success. Besides the fact that previous experience does NOT predict performance, why would you assume that your future CCO does not have to learn? 

They need to learn about your company. Your culture. Your strategies. Your processes. Your customers. Your forecasts. Your team. And much more. The need to be able to learn continuously.

My advice: Never underestimate the importance of cognition over work experience, especially when the stakes are high, which is usually the case when hiring for a senior role. Because let’s be honest, hiring the wrong CCO would be a very painful and costly mishire.

Three objections against using game-based assessments for senior roles & why they’re false

Objection 1: “I’m worried that job applicants will find it too playful and won’t take the process seriously.”

So, what about the candidate’s perspective? There is a common misconception that whatever is gamified, is there to entertain the player. So I can definitely imagine your worries with regard to senior candidates taking gamified assessments seriously. However…

Reality: Games lead to higher candidate engagement regardless of seniority ​

Applicant reactions towards gamified assessments can be categorised into two groups, motivational and attitudinal reactions.

  • Motivational reactions. This category covers autonomous motivation (in other words, candidate engagement), test motivation, test anxiety and more. Gamified assessments lead to increased candidate engagement, test motivation, satisfaction, and reduce test anxiety by allowing candidates to complete assessments in a more lively, less repetitive way (Landers et al., 2021; Guin et al., 2012; Collmus & Landers, 2019). 
  • Attitudinal reactions. This refers to the perceived fairness of candidates within the recruitment process. Examples of these are distributive justice (the accuracy of how the scores reflect actual performances), procedural justice (chance to perform), job-relatedness (the perceived relevance to the job nature), test propriety, and more. Researchers have proven that all of those aforementioned examples were perceived as more positive when participants were in the gamified assessments, compared to the traditional cognitive ability tests (Landers et al., 2021). 


Are you still feeling sceptical about how candidates might perceive game-based assessments? The average rating given by management & leadership roles that complete the Equalture game-based assessments is 4.44/5.

Objection 2: “For this role, it is more important that someone brings the knowledge of previous jobs.”

When looking to hire someone for a senior role, we tend to focus too much on their professional experience. And yes, it does matter to an extent, however, the fact that someone has x amount years of experience does not automatically imply that they are the best fit for the position or that they’ve been successful at their previous jobs.

Yet, many measures of experience are pretty basic: a number of jobs somebody has held, tenure at the previous employers, years of total work, whether somebody has worked in a similar role or not. hose metrics tell us whether a candidate possesses experience but not about the quality or significance of that experience, which would probably have more bearing on performance. One of the basic premises in our area of research is that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. But prehire experience isn’t a measure of behaviour. The person might have failed or stagnated in previous jobs. 

Research even shows that there is no direct correlation between work experience and future job performance (the correlation is only a disappointing 0.16). 

Today, when everyone is complaining about the skills shortage and the war for talent, you can’t afford to knock out candidates who would do really well but don’t have the experience that you have chosen to put in the job description. 

You want to expand the pool of people you’re considering.

Reality: Games provide crucial insights that are actually predictive of future job success which are even more important for senior roles

Are you worried about the predictive power and validity of gamified assessments? Let me reassure you – in fact, several studies have shown that the gamified version of assessments have the same predictive power and validity (Landers et al., 2021; Georgiou et al., 2019; Nikolaou et al., 2019; Levy et al., 2016). 

Game-based assessments measure cognitive abilities and behaviour. Cognitive abilities largely constitute what most people intuitively call intelligence.  For example, solving problems, reasoning analytically or adapting to changing circumstances. Whereas, behaviour defines how they will interact in the workplace. Having these insights helps to understand which responsibilities/tasks fit someone, how a person can be coached, and how they will behave in a team setting.

Cognitive ability has a correlation of 0.65-0.74 with job performance. This is 7x higher than education and 4.4x higher than work experience.

Read more about it here


Objection 3: “For senior positions, we usually don't get that many applicants so no need for an assessment in screening them.”

We all want more candidates, the more the better, right? However, not always we receive hundreds of applications, especially for senior roles. In this case, why would we bother investing financial resources in an assessment tool to screen those few candidates if we can just go through their resumes and conduct a few interviews.

The thing is…

Reality: Assessments matter even more if there are very few candidates

What if none of the candidates are good for the role? Then you’ve spent time and money on both reviewing their applications, as well as interviews. All of that for nothing. Plus, if you do end up choosing to hire one – chances are you’re going to settle for less – simply because not having a senior position filled can result in a loss of overall productivity. If this person turns out to be a mishire – you’re in big trouble.

Senior turnover is simply more costly than entry-level as it leads to depleted overall productivity and performance on both a team and company level. 

Thus, when hiring for senior roles – you should be making a decision that is thoroughly thought out and you are absolutely certain about. Rather than making a decision based on intuition or gut feeling. This is why it’s even more important to gather the right information about candidates already at the beginning of the hiring process and that’s exactly what game-based assessments can allow you to do as indicated in the previous section.

Some final thoughts…

To summarize, when it comes to using game-based assessments to assess for senior roles:

  1. Games lead to higher candidate engagement regardless of seniority
  2. Games provide crucial insights that are actually predictive of future job success which are even more important for senior roles
  3. Assessments matter even more if there are very few candidates


At the end of the day, regardless of whether it’s hiring somebody for a junior or senior role:

They need to learn about your company. Your culture. Your strategies. Your processes. Your customers. Your forecasts. Your team. And much more. The need to be able to learn continuously.

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