Game On! The Gamification of Recruiting

Game On! The Gamification of Recruiting

O’Melveny jumped to the front of the Biglaw recruiting pack with the announcement of its plans to use a gamified career assessment and recruiting platform to evaluate potential law school candidates. Through the gamification of recruiting, the firm hopes to broaden its recruiting pipeline and gain access to more diverse candidates.

Gamification uses game theory, mechanics, and designs to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve specific goals. Gamified assessments take scientific psychometric tests and introduce elements of gaming such as progressing through levels, or earning points, or getting badges to create an engaging online test. Players don’t win or lose these games; the object is to study how they play the games and collect data. These gamified recruiting tests use behavioral neuroscience and predictive algorithms to provide employers with candidate insights to facilitate hiring the right talent for the right roles. Such cognitive assessment tools are common in corporate hiring but are not yet generally accepted by law firms.

Like O’Melveny, employers who use gamified recruiting platforms primarily target millennials who are highly technologically savvy and comfortable playing online games. In addition to attracting these candidates to the firm’s website and motivating them to complete the application process, gamification portrays the firm as being innovative and different from its competitors. Gamification personalizes and adds a fun element to the recruitment process and increases candidate engagement with the firm.

Gamification also is an effective vetting process for recruiters to garner a fuller profile of candidates. Job seekers can look good on paper but not possess the “soft skills” necessary for success in the organization. Gamification techniques test candidates’ fit by constructing assessments focused on specific traits that otherwise would be difficult to gauge, such as creative thinking, capacity to perform under pressure, time management, and ability to problem solve.

But employers must tread carefully when using games while making hiring decisions. The games’ challenges must highlight skills specifically needed for a particular job, with objectives and functions closely aligned with the duties of the position. The challenge is to identify the attributes required in the role and then efficiently and objectively measure whether—and to what degree—the candidate possesses them.

The process for developing a gamified recruiting assessment usually entails having the organization’s most successful current employees play assessment games. Their results are analyzed to identify specific desired traits and trends and build a “success profile” for the firm. A game is developed to identify and assess those traits and trends and then is checked to rule out any potential gender, racial, ethnic, or other biases in the underlying data. Finally, prospective candidates play the recruiting game and those results are analyzed for matches with the success profile’s desired traits and trends.

The benefits go both ways. A well-constructed gamified assessment offers candidates a chance to evaluate the company as well. “Players” can gain an understanding of the organization and its goals and values and can assess their own fit within the company—in a more engaging, easily accessible, and rewarding way.

Increased candidate diversity is another advantage of introducing gamification to the recruiting process. By using online game assessment tools, rather than discriminating between candidates based solely on their background as described on their resume, firms can select the best people based on what attributes they actually can bring to the table. Deloitte, for example, transformed its graduate selection by including gamified assessment with the following results:

  • 32% increase in applications.
  • Higher quality candidates applying and progressing through the process.
  • 58% increase in acceptance of offers.
  • A growth in the number of candidates from key target universities.
  • Better candidate experience with a short, mobile assessment.
  • Alignment with the core strategic aims of innovation and diversity.
  • Strong positive candidate feedback – 70% of responding candidates described the Deloitte graduate recruitment process and the gamified assessment as “market leading”.
  • Reduced time to hire due to process efficiencies.*

Other companies, such Unilever, Accenture, and LinkedIn also use gamification tools to make their hiring decisions as effective, accurate, and unbiased as possible.

O’Melveny is introducing its new gamified recruiting tool to the career services professionals at the law schools where it currently recruits, but also will allow candidates from any other law school who wishes to take the assessment to do so. Starting in January 2019, first-year law students can opt to play the series of 12 games, which take a total of about a half hour to complete, to boost their applications for a position with the firm. The object is to give the firm new, relevant information about associate candidates that can override existing biases and thereby identify candidates it otherwise might miss in its traditional recruiting process but who appear to have what it takes to succeed at the firm. If gamified recruiting is successful for new associate hiring, O’Melveny may expand it to lateral hires, as well.

Given Biglaw’s long tradition of judging candidates by their academic pedigrees (law school ranking and grades) over almost all other attributes, it will be interesting to see whether gamified recruiting will indeed diversify the ranks of Biglaw. It also will be interesting to see whether other law firms follow O’Melveny’s lead and add gamified assessment tools to their recruiting processes.

In any event, the game’s afoot.


Valerie Fontaine
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