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Artificial Intelligence has seeped into many areas of our lives - whether it’s personalized recommendations from companies like Netflix or job suggestions on AngelList - it’s hard to miss that it’s shaping how information is processed and received.

When it comes to AI and Gamification in hiring, it is still in its infancy.  Businesses globally are exploring how they can utilize the power of AI and gamification to improve their hiring process and, in turn, increase productivity.

The 2018 Global Hiring Trends report of LinkedIn mentions that AI would be the next face of hiring processes across the world. Recruiters and hiring managers worldwide agreed that AI is a disrupter and is helping them in the following key areas:

  • Saving time (63% agreed)
  • Removing human bias (43%)
  • Delivering the best candidate matches (31%)
  • Helpful when sourcing candidates (58%)
  • Screening (56%)
  • Nurturing Candidates (55%)

Last year, 67% of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed by LinkedIn also agreed that AI saved them time. The quick adaptation of AI and Gamification in recruitment doesn’t come as a surprise.

An SHRM survey found that the average cost per hire can be over $4,000. AI is increasingly becoming an important part of the hiring process due to its ability to match the right candidate to the profile faster and more efficiently than ever before.

AI and Gamification can help predict probable behaviors beyond traditional markers so that recruiters have an easier time hiring while ensuring they get the best talent.

What is Gamification in Recruitment?

Gamification essentially means gamifying a person’s engagement to gain more exciting and natural insights into a prospect’s personality and abilities that a traditional interview might not be able to give.

In the context of recruitment, it means applying game mechanics like competition and achievement to understand a person’s reaction to such situations and their personalities in a more profound way. This also helps employers find a closer fit to the role they are hiring for.


The gamification market is massive and snowballing. According to market research platform ReportLinker, the global gamification market was valued at $6.8 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $40 billion by 2024.

A common misconception is that AI and Gamification in recruitment aim to make interactions “more fun.” But that’s just about scratching the surface. While there’s no doubt that gamification makes an otherwise tedious process more enjoyable, at its core, it’s simplifying a lot of functions for a company.

What makes AI and Gamification more intriguing is that there is no set algorithm or set game that all have to follow. Given AI’s ability of deep learning, it can create algorithms and processes based on the data you feed to the system and the kind of information you want from it.

AI and the Thought Spectrum

When it comes to using AI and gamification in recruitment, there’s a division of opinions.

Many believe that AI will help human decision-makers avoid their prejudices by ensuring a fair process backed by the right algorithms. It can also help companies cut down on costs by automating the initial screening process and zeroing in on the right candidates.

On the other hand, there are concerns that AI and gamification infringe on privacy rights.  Certain AI practices like facial recognition are unethical and cross the boundaries of what should be allowed in the name of finding the right fit.

Gamification and AI are used in healthcare, and the scavenging of candidate information can throw up data about health status and mental state. Such overzealousness can result in violating some privacy laws. This information is over and above what is routinely collected through social media profiles.

The focus is now shifting to developing more ethical AI. For example, Algorithmic bias has become a pressing concern for companies using AI and Gamification.

But a recent Harvard Business Review article co-written by Frida Polli (cognitive neuroscientist and founder of Pymetrics) provides an exciting insight. They highlight how failing algorithms or AI biases are creeping in because we fail to fix the bias in the performance ratings often used in data sets.

Many AI recruitment systems use real people as models for what ‘success’ for that company looks like in specific roles. This model employee becomes a reference point for these systems and is known as the “training data set.” These models often include managers or staff who have been defined as “high performers” in the company conducting the games.

Thus by comparing profiles of job applicants to the reference group, the system looks for people with personality traits celebrated in the training data set. This gives the company a probabilistic estimate of how closely a candidate’s attributes match the ideal employee.

If the data set is well audited, then this system should theoretically work but in reality, it is not possible to keep out all bias.

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AI and Gamification In Hiring

Google’s famous billboard mathematical riddle of 2004 is a stunning example of how useful gamification in recruiting can be. But since then, gamification in hiring has come a long way.

A cognitive scientist turned entrepreneur, Polli believes that resumes are outdated ways of judging a person’s qualifications.

“...It’s (AI and Gamification) much more future-facing and potential-oriented, rather than backward-facing and sort of only talking about your past experiences. It’s a much more holistic, hopeful view of someone than, Oh, this is what you’ve done, and this is all you can do”.

An exciting application of AI and gamification in hiring comes from Angela Antony, CEO and founder of Scoutible. It’s a next-generation AI for hiring, where immersive video games are used to identify perfect-fit candidates for jobs. She was also one of five high-powered women founders of tech startups who showcased their innovative solutions at Deloitte’s second annual Executive Women in Tech Connect event.

She believes that soft cognitive abilities, personality, and specific psychological attributes are the most predictive indicators of future performance on any job. Like employers, candidates often have no idea whether they’re a good fit for a role until it’s too late.

Gamification during a hiring process “tells them whether they have what it takes to be an outstanding performer, which is information they’ve never had before.”

Gamification in recruitment example: Google Case Study
One of our favourite examples of gamification in recruitment is Google Code Jam. A competition designed by one of the biggest companies in the world.

Competitors enter by completing a series of coding skills tests - working your way through multiple rounds of algorithmic coding puzzles for the title of Code Jam Champ and $15,000 USD. It's one of 3 competitions that Google holds for participants of all skill levels.

Those who succeed in the competition are typically offered jobs to work at one of the best companies in the world.

How can AI and Gamification help your hiring process?

1. Diversify Your Team

78% of companies indicated they are prioritizing diversity to improve culture, and 62% are doing so to boost financial performance. But when it comes to identifying talent, most corporates play it just by the ear. Hiring managers spend a few moments looking at a CV before deciding whom to scoop out.

AI and Gamification in hiring can help diversiy employee teams

They make quick judgments and call it “intuition” or overlook reliable data and hire based on cultural fit. This is made worse by an absence of rigorous measures.

2. Test How a Candidate will React in Real-Time

Interviews are the old, sure-shot way of identifying the right candidate for a job. Despite the glory, they can’t escape from one flaw: most of what a candidate says in an interview has been well thought about and rehearsed over time.

It is just about the nature of the interviews. A few unexpected questions might throw them off, but still don’t give much meaningful insight and could make a candidate nervous instead. Gamification can instantly gauge the natural reactions a candidate might have in situations they’re likely to face in their role. These could be leadership traits, practicality, design thinking, empathy, etc., based on the skillsets that the position requires.

3. Screen for Specific Skills

A seasoned hiring manager would know that candidates are not the best assessors of their skills. While some may overestimate their qualifications and aptitude in certain areas, some qualified candidates do not know how to communicate their skills in a 40-second answer to a question in an interview.

Gamification addresses problems like these by allowing candidates to demonstrate their skills in a non-stress environment.

AI and Gamification for effective recruitment

A good example is KPMG’s internship hiring practice using gamification. The UK business service provider screened new college graduates for an internship through a game task. Candidates were to race a virtual hot balloon worldwide, stopping along the way to “fill fuel” by finishing some challenges.

Whoever completed the journey in the shortest amount of time got the internship.

4. Improve Candidate Experience

A positive candidate experience is vital for better quality talent, seamless onboarding, and a strong employer brand. Gamifying your interview process can help a candidate know more about your company beyond what they have gathered about it already. This can help them identify if the job they’re applying for is the right fit for both.

AI and Gamification can improve candidate experience and your employer's brand

PwC was topping Google search recently for introducing gamification to engage job candidates more holistically. They have designed a game called “Multipoly”, where candidates are put on teams and given situations similar to what they might face on the job.

The firm reported that its candidate pool grew by 190%, and users reporting interest in learning more about working at PwC increased by 78%.

Ethical AI and Gamification Practices You Should Know

AI and gamification in hiring possess a vast potential that has been barely scratched. Here are a few practices that are considered as the hallmarks of ethical AI recruiting.

Educate your candidates about your process. Ask prospective employees to choose to provide their personal data to the company. Explain to them that the data will be analyzed, stored, and used by AI systems for making HR-related decisions. Be ready to explain questions that follow, exploring areas of what, who, how, and why.

2. Use AI Systems That Are Known for Fairness and Accuracy

A very interesting point is made in favor of using fair practices in AI and Gamification in recruitment by a recent article in HBS.

Even though the critics argue that AI is not much better in terms of bias than traditional hiring, they need to consider that these systems mirror our behavior. What we need to fix are the performance ratings of our systems so that they can analyze data without any biases reflected in there.

There is evidence that AI could overcome this by deploying more dynamic and personalized scoring algorithms that are sensitive and create a more accurate and fair analysis.

3. Follow the Same Data Collection and Usage Practices Used in Traditional Hiring

Certain AI Gamification practices were gathering data to select candidates, violating the privacy laws that protect specific communities from being denied opportunities. Hence, more stringent legal and ethical practices are being promoted to discourage such infringements.

Private information regarding a person’s mental, physical, ethnic, drug usage, etc, should not be used ever in such a hiring process.

For more information, you can head here.

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Illustration credit: Freepik.

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