Gamified assessments – A graduate perspective

This November is all about taking action, and while applying for a job is one of the biggest actions you can take, it’s just as important to research the role, company and application process before applying. Getting into a graduate scheme with the biggest graduate recruiters is a multi-stage process, and gamified assessments are becoming increasingly popular. This is the second of my two blogs about early-stage applications. If you haven’t seen my previous one about situational judgement tests (SJTs) you can check that out here!

Gamified assessments are a relatively new kid on the block in terms of recruitment but are gaining popularity because they are difficult to prepare for, so you’re getting a ‘truer’ impression of the candidate. I’ve only done one so far through an app on my phone and it took about half an hour all together. It consisted of around 12 individual games each designed to test a specific skill or attribute, although it wasn’t always clear what they were trying to test. Each was around a minute and a half long and most were enjoyable enough (although one had arrows that flashed by so quickly it gave me a headache). After completing the assessment I received a personalised profile of what the games supposedly said about my strengths, weaknesses and attributes. I went in knowing very little about what to expect, and I didn’t find there was really a way to prepare for them. With that in mind I just decided to give it a go, and these are my thoughts.

1. They’re less scary than situational judgement tests

Understandably I was pretty nervous before starting this assessment; any assessment is going to be scary and I had no idea what to expect, but I found that after the initial worry I relaxed into the games and treated them as just that: games. Rather than dwelling on how I was answering I just read the instructions and pressed go, there wasn’t the opportunity to overthink what I was doing or second-guess myself which I actually really liked. Aside from the one aforementioned game which gave me a headache I found them all enjoyable and varied enough that the assessment didn’t feel like a chore. However, this created its own problems…

2. It isn’t actually a game

These are ultimately still assessments, they’re just posing as games, and because they still felt like games, I stopped behaving as I would in a real-world setting. ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s just a game’ is good advice when your mum is about to flip the table during the annual family game of Monopoly, but not such good advice when that game is being used to assess who you are. The stakes in a game are fabricated so you can detach from it, but this is a test. As a highly risk-averse person when I looked at the profile and it said I am ‘willing to take risks under high-risk conditions’ I was initially confused, but upon reflection I actually didn’t behave as I would in a real life setting. Bear this in mind when taking the assessment.

3. The instructions aren’t always great

Before each game I decided that I would read the instructions twice, as I have a tendency to skim-read and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While this was pretty effective for the most part, I found that often the instructions weren’t very clear so I would be a quarter of the way through the game before I understood what I was supposed to be doing. Then about half way through the assessment I noticed that you can stop each game and go back to the instructions if you need to. Make use of this function and remember to take your time with the instructions.

So what are my main takeaways? I can certainly see why gamified assessments are catching on – from a candidate perspective they’re more enjoyable than the traditional SJT and I feel like they probably tell you more about the candidate than an SJT does, especially a candidate with no previous work experience in that specific area. However because they are difficult to prepare for by their very nature and practice software hasn’t been created yet I can understand why gamified assessments really worry people. I would say that it’s important to remember that failing a gamified assessment doesn’t make you a bad candidate or bad person and its vital that you keep trying. Other than that if you have to do a gamified assessment you should buckle up and try to enjoy the ride.

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