The lesson I learnt is that persuading someone to hire you is like playing a game: there arerules and you need to find out what they are.
Some employers are now taking this idea to extremes by designing games for job candidatesto play.
L’Oréal, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Deutsche Bank have signed up to a smartphone appcalled Debut that promises to let young people “fast-track the recruitment process and landroles in blue-chip companies simply by playing mobile games”.
欧莱雅(L’Oréal)、安永(Ernst & Young)、微软(Microsoft)和德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)都和一款叫做“Debut”的智能手机应用签署了合作合约。这款应用承诺让年轻人“只需通过玩手机游戏就能快速走完招聘流程，赢得蓝筹公司的职位”。
At first glance, it is hard to see why these employers thought this was a good idea. L’Oréal’sgame involves running around a maze, jumping over walls and collecting things. DeutscheBank’s requires you to roll a ball around the corporate logo without letting it fall off the edge.Do bankers need good balance? Do product designers need good reflexes?
Even if these games were testing for the right attributes, the obvious problem is that they canbe gamed. It does not take a genius to set up several user accounts with different emailaddresses, practise the games endlessly, then log on with their real name once they haveperfected them.
It would be like having the chance to answer that “biggest weakness” question over and overagain until you found a response that did not elicit a frown.
Thankfully, these companies are not foolish enough to have overlooked this. Notwithstandingthe app’s hype, these mobile games are really a marketing tool rather than an alternativeselection process. They are a way for employers to engage with potential job applicants whothey might not otherwise reach.
“It’s not as if we’re struggling for applications, but it’s about getting the right applicants,” saysDan Richards, EY’s head of UK recruitment. He does not want to keep fishing for recruits in thesmall and homogenous pool of university students who go along to recruitment fairs.
In that sense, these mobile games are indicative of an important shift taking place inrecruitment.
Big employers are beginning to realise they have to change the way they do things if they wantmore diverse workforces.
Deloitte, for example, has changed its application process so recruiters do not know where thecandidates went to school or university. It is running a video game trial of its own.
Many of the biggest law firms, meanwhile, have signed up to use a “contextual recruitmentproduct” that identifies people who might not meet standard academic requirements but haveoutperformed relative to their backgrounds.
For its part, EY has scrapped all academic qualifications from its entry criteria and replacedthem with a set of standardised online tests. Its research shows that a good score on thesetests is a better predictor of professional success than academic performance. In the firstfew months of the new system, one in 10 applicants who made it to the interview stage wouldhave been ineligible to apply previously.
“Name-blind” recruitment is also gaining ground to try to combat racial bias. Academic studiesin the US and UK have shown that identical job applications make more progress when theyhave “white-sounding” names on them. Experiments in France, Germany, Sweden and theNetherlands suggest that anonymous job applications do increase the probability thatapplicants from ethnic minorities are invited for interview.
The evidence is too patchy to tell whether their chances of a job offer recede again at theinterview stage.
Interviews, of course, are the final frontier in this battle to diversify recruitment. This is thestage where racial discrimination can creep back in. It is also where those candidates withpolish and practice can still outgun the rest.
Employers will have to tackle this challenge next. “Gamification” is easy to dismiss as apassing fad involving online play. Yet in its broadest sense, it is something well worth fightingfor: an attempt to make recruitment the sort of game where the playing field is level andeveryone knows the rules.