Gaming in recruitment

How is gaming used in recruitment?

Gaming has already been used in different ways by recruiters for several years, but the methods and techniques continue to change as they adapt to the latest technologies. For example, Accenture have been at the forefront of using Virtual Reality in their graduate assessment days, ranging from entering an Egyptian tomb and cracking a hieroglyphic code, to running a conference call with a client.

Also known as ‘gamification’, games-based assessment tends to be used at an early stage in the recruitment process and can be applied by recruiters in a range of ways:

1. To showcase their organisation and allow you to experience their working environment, e.g. through a typical day or on a specific project. This approach is often used to attract new applicants and can result in more informed applications.

Example: A management/strategy game called Moonshield, used by Thales to showcase their technologies. The player was projected into the near future and had to use Thales technologies to defend the Earth from a deadly meteor shower that could destroy all civilization.

2. To collect information about you, such as your attitude to risk or your ability to solve real-life problems, e.g. through a job simulation scenario. By assessing a range of characteristics and comparing them with specific role profiles, the employer can gain a clearer picture of whether and where you will fit within their organisation.

Example: Data management company Knack developed a video game called Wasabi Waiter that would act as a screening platform for key skills and characteristics. Players were sushi servers who had to track the moods of their customers, deliver them appropriate food and clear plates, etc. All the time, they were being analysed and scored on behaviours such as conscientiousness and emotion recognition.

3. To test a specific skill or ability in a competitive environment.

Example: In 2011, GCHQ ran a campaign in which they presented an encrypted message on a website called (the challenge is now closed, but you can still find an explanation of the stages). Anyone who successfully deciphered the hidden message was directed to a webpage describing career opportunities with GCHQ.

4. To replace or sit alongside more standard psychometric testing.

Example: PwC currently uses ‘Career unlocked’ a series of games-based psychometric assessments. They look at your numerical and abstract reasoning abilities and natural behavioural preferences, such as how you overcome challenges, how you work towards goals and how you make decisions.

Who designs the games?

Some tests are bespoke to the recruiting organisation, designed in-house or by external experts. Alternatively, an organisation might utilise a more generic game supplied by a specialist company, but with the analysis tailored to their needs.

Example: Arctic Shores is a company that was established to ‘bring greater objectivity and fairness to the recruitment and career development process’ by combining neuroscience, AI and game technology. They offer a range of psychometric game-based assessments, such as Skyrise City, and work with each recruiter to build a model of high performance for their specific job openings.  Candidates are then compared against these profiles and ranked.

You can get a flavour of the approach to psychometric testing taken by Skyrise City by watching this Arctic Shores promotional video.

Which employers use them?

A useful TARGETJobs blogpost on gamification explains that games-based assessment is currently used across a range of sectors, including IT, law, transport and logistics, consumer goods, and finance.

Employers who are known to be using them include PwC, Deloitte, Accenture, Citi, e-on, RBS, Vodafone, Unilever and Network Rail.

How do I access them?

Games are often designed to be played on your phone or tablet via a mobile app. They are usually also accessible on a PC or laptop but sometimes run slower. This is worth checking as it can affect your scores if the game measures your reaction time.

When the recruiter sends you the details about that stage of their assessment – they will provide a username and password, or player key. If you are unsure about anything, they should be able to answer any questions, or the game designers (e.g. Arctic Shores, Pymetrics, Revelian etc.) often have useful candidate support and FAQ sections on their websites. 

How can I improve my performance?

The first thing to clarify is that you don’t need to be a gamer to perform well in these assessments. The gameplay is carefully designed to be simple and straightforward for everyone. Games will often use actions such as clicking, circling or ‘drag and drop’.

There are several things you can do to enhance your performance:


  • LSE Careers has a subscription to Graduates First, which provides several examples of gamified practice assessments. Use them to familiarise yourself with the format and process.

  • On the Test Partnership website, you can preview their MindmetriQ gamified assessment series.

  • Some providers give you access to a practice game before you do the actual assessment.

  • Many of these tests involve psychometric assessment, so practising aptitude tests can also be helpful.

  • Take it seriously – even though the gaming approach might be enjoyable for you, don’t forget this is still a formal part of the assessment process. Make sure you take the assessment in a suitable location where you can give it your full concentration without interruption.

  • Read instructions carefully – assimilating complex information could be part of the assessment and the employer is more interested in your instinctive, first-time reactions so you probably won’t get a chance to repeat anything.

  • Don’t be complacent – if you come across a game more than once, try to approach each time as a new experience. Different employers might use the same game, but the assessment will be tailored to each employer’s specific requirements. Researching the employer should give you some idea of their needs and priorities and this may help you to view each experience differently.

  • Don’t assume a high score is best – scoring is often introduced to make the game more enjoyable, but the behaviours that give you more points might not be the ones the employer is looking for. Your research on the employer should help you here.

  • Technical check – if you’re playing on your phone or tablet, check that your operating system can run the game properly. Don’t forget to enable your ‘do not disturb’ (or similar) function to ensure that you don’t get interrupted by calls, notifications etc., while playing. Also, make sure your device is fully charged and that you have access to a fast and stable internet connection.

  • Don’t leave it until the last minute – these games can be demanding and may take up to an hour to complete.

  • Be at your best – make sure you are well rested and alert before you start.

Finally, don’t try to second guess what the recruiter is looking for – be honest, be yourself and enjoy the experience!